Have Big News Media Brands Lost Their Influence?

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With people consuming information like never before, this should be a golden age for the large national news media brands.

Yet, given the easy spread of fake news, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the results of a new research experiment confirm that news consumers are not so discerning about who created the information they trust.

The experiment — which was conducted by the Media Insight Project — an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research — shows that trust in content is driven more by who shares an article than by what outlet created it. The brand of the original news media organization that created the content was a secondary consideration for participants in determining how much they valued the information.

Clearly, there is a lot of work to do to address the problem of media literacy and to sensitize people to why it is important.

CREDIBILITY + AMPLIFICATION = IMPACT

This dynamic has significant implications for professionals who want to engage in content marketing. Having ideas, publishing regularly, and offering thoughtful, value added content is not enough. To make an impact, content producers must be amplified by other people.

Traditionally, professionals might have seen a boost from getting a mention in an article in a publication like Wall Street Journal. That can still help, but now, even more important is to have your content passed along by someone with a large social media following.

So what can professionals do to help their content publishing gain momentum? If you’ve already got a solid pipeline of ideas and a good flow of content to fuel your marketing effort, be sure to add some basics of influencer outreach into your plan.

Influencer campaign techniques have grown in sophistication over recent years and now often involve paid relationships. However, here are some starter steps to consider:

— Know who people in your target audience consider to be influencers on the topics similar to your expertise

— Follow and interact with the top influencers yourself by liking, sharing and thoughtfully commenting on their posts

— Network your way to an introduction with a few of the influencers. (This approach obviously works better with other professionals of your stature than with celebrity influencers.)

— Send your content directly to some of the influencers you connect with to ask for their feedback and for them to share with their networks

— Actually ask people in your network to share your content. If they find it valuable and they like you, they won’t mind

Without amplification, you’ll be talking to yourself. So, it is worth it to make an effort to engage influencers in your sphere once you’ve got you a solid, sustainable foundation of content creation set.

6 Ways to Overcome the Forgetting Curve

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“What did she tell me about that issue when we met this morning? We covered so much. I just can’t remember.”

“My financial advisor sent me something about that recently, but I don’t recall exactly what the article said.”

We’ve all had these kinds of experiences. Information is just on the edge of your memory and nearly impossible to recall, even though you’ve heard or seen it just earlier in the day. Or, you know you’ve read about a subject, but you just can’t remember the details precisely or where the article appeared.

You aren’t alone. Humans forget approximately 50 percent of new information they encounter within an hour and an average of 70 percent within 24 hours, cognitive science expert Art Kohn notes. After a week, he says, that average goes up to 90 percent.

Here’s a great infographic about the Forgetting Curve and factors that impact our ability to remember.  http://elearninginfographics.com/memory-retention-and-the-forgetting-curve-infographic/

Here’s a great infographic about the Forgetting Curve and factors that impact our ability to remember. http://elearninginfographics.com/memory-retention-and-the-forgetting-curve-infographic/

This pattern is common to us all. It is known as the forgetting curve and was first presented by Hermann Ebbinghaus in his 1885 book on memory.

Ever since, teachers, leaders, orators, politicians and business people have been looking for ways to overcome this basic human characteristic and be more memorable. But, our human brains naturally channel out much of the vast river of information that flows in every minute. This function helps us focus on one or two important items and make room for others, according to Kohn.

For leaders, professional service advisors, marketers and communicators, this can be very frustrating. I have seen countless surveys of groups in which the results show the audience has very limited recall of information that project teams and managers feel they have been relentlessly communicating.

Training and education professionals have similar experiences with the content they deliver in school and as part of corporate curriculums. As a result, they’ve developed a range of techniques for helping students improve retention of the information they teach. We as business leaders, professionals, communicators and marketers can learn from their work and translate it to be memorable with our audiences.

Here are six tips for helping your audience overcome the Forgetting Curve:

  1. Have a focus: Before you create any kind of content, you should be able to express your main point in one or two sentences. If you don’t have that level of clarity, then your audiences won’t either. This includes making sure the complexity of your main theme is appropriate for your audience. Ebbinghaus’ research showed that the difficulty of the content for a person has an impact on memory.

  2. Space it out: Delivering information in bite-sized pieces over a period of time is a technique used widely by professional educators drawing on the concept of spaced repetition. The approach is the opposite of the “cramming” technique many of us may have used in college which doesn’t support long-term memory recall. For communicators and marketers, this means planning a series to convey a complex message over time rather than putting it all into one blog post, article, executive letter, video or presentation.

  3. Make a connection: If you have done your homework and know your audience, you can help them reduce the speed of forgetting by connecting your information to something they already know. Draw a parallel between your main point and something that is commonplace for them.

  4. Say it first, say it last: Ebbinghaus also discovered that information positioned at the beginning and the end of a communication is better remembered. Whether it is a blog post, a presentation or any kind of information delivery, be sure to follow the classic structure of book ending your piece with your most important point.

  5. Revisit the information frequently: A common technique recommended to university students is to review notes and readings after a class session at frequent intervals. Through this practice, the brain is able to recall the information more quickly each time. In business we can encourage our clients, employees, colleagues and partners to revisit our points by delivering our core themes repeatedly — even when we as creators tire of sending out the same information.

  6. Deliver it multiple waysThe base shape of the forgetting curve is the same for everyone. Individuals make a difference in their memory abilities by adopting techniques that work for them. So, using a variety of methods to deliver information is critical. We see this in schools with different approaches used for visual, auditory, and hands on learners. In business, we must take a similar approach by delivering our content in a variety of formats from blogs to videos to infographics to slide presentations.

When considering your next content creation effort, help your audiences overcome the Forgetting Curve by using these six tips — and become more memorable as a result.

Measuring the Impact of Trust

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Trust and reputation have real economic value, and now thanks to big data tools we may be able to measure it.

Reputation management has long been considered a soft topic under the purview of public relations teams. In recent years, senior business executives seem to have grown increasingly aware of the tangible impact crises of trust can have on their businesses. However, it is still often a leap of faith for many to make a full commitment of money and staff resources to address issues fully or invest in reputation strengthening in advance.

With more accessible data flows and analytics platforms, we may finally be able to quantify the bottom line impact of trust. Tanya Seejay, CEO of Orenda Software Solutions, spoke to this topic during the IBM InterConnect conference, as she discussed how her team uses data analytics to measure the effect of crises of trust.

She offers a good reminder that we are living in the era of a Trust Economy where buying decisions are influenced by reputation. At the same time we’re also experiencing a Trust Crisis, which shows up in a number of studies including the 2017 edition of Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

Interestingly much of the data Orenda’s platform uses to analyze reputational impact is drawn from social media sources, according to Seajay. Their approach highlights the value that can come from having a strong, positive presence with your audiences via a social content program. In the communications world, we often talk about building up a reservoir of goodwill and trust as an asset especially in case of unexpected reputational issues.

There’s no time like the present to start on that work. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you consider using a content publishing program to build a solid foundation of trust with your audiences:

1.) Be aware of your context: The Trust Barometer is a great resource for understanding general opinions. Professionals and organizations need to go one step further and understand the micro context of their industry and community. Listening via social media monitoring tools and actively reviewing news coverage — including the comments posted by readers in response to articles — is important as you shape the content you plan to share.

2.) Decide on your content strategy: Successful organizations and professionals know the topics for which they want to be recognized and use their insights to build credibility and connection with audiences. They also make a decision early on about whether they will engage in commentary on controversial, political and policy topics or not.

3.) Be sure you are adding value: It takes a lot of work to create and publish content. If you are doing it right, the information, tips, guides and insights you are delivering to your audiences will strengthen your bond with them. Tracking key metrics for how your content is performing as well as reviewing the qualitative comments from your audiences will clearly let you know if you’re on the right track to using content publishing to build a following as a trusted source.

As the tools to measure trust rapidly evolve, there’s never been a better time to get started on a content strategy that bolsters your reputation with the audiences you want to reach.