Content Marketing: Build Your Brand, Become a Thought Leader

What Is Content Marketing?

Let’s start at the beginning. What is content marketing?  The phrase has achieved buzzword status. Yet, despite its popularity, confusion abounds.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

What isn’t content marketing? That, too, is of equal importance. For example, ad campaigns, native advertising, and automated algorithms are not content marketing.

Develop a Content Strategy

An effective content marketing program begins by developing a content marketing strategy, which yields an opportunity to control your message, share your point of view and expand brand awareness.

It’s important to consider these vital questions: What are the possible pathways to raise visibility, generate leads and improve your website traffic? Where can your content assets intersect with potential customers? Your website? Certain media outlets or blogs? Social media channels? Physical locations? Do your research. Answering these questions will tell you where to place your content.

After all, content marketing is evolving as consumer habits change.

While the first inclination may be to rush out and generate a mix of content aligned to your business objectives to reach prospective new customers — if this content doesn’t command their attention and recollection of your brand and what it represents, the program will miss its mark. Worse, if content fails to deliver in an appropriate and meaningful way, it can even alienate existing and potential customers.

Gauge consumer perceptions and expectations by asking: What mix of mediums will best resonate with my target audiences?  For example, consider the written word, the spoken word, different types of imagery, such as photography, graphic art, infographics, and/or video.

Create Content

With a strategy in place, the next step is to begin creating content. Here are some top tips to make your content program successful:

  • Be purposeful. Does your content convey the benefits of your product or service? Does it answer the important questions or address key issues in your industry? Content that presents your product/service as a solution is one way to help your brand become etched in the minds of your target audiences.
  • Be thoughtful. Ensure brand messages are easily understood by intended audiences. Know the market landscape, everything from the competitive set to user personas. Content meant to prompt a desired action only works if it’s crafted with the language, style, customs, etc., relevant to your audiences.
  • Be consistent. Develop an editorial calendar and publishing schedule. This will help you with achieving consistency and alignment with your business objectives, which may evolve or shift.

Content Distribution

Successful content marketing not only requires the creation of content that tells your story, it also requires effective content distribution tactics. Some marketers may prefer to disseminate directly to target audiences and become self-publishers. However, a more strategic approach is to leverage both owned and earned media (editorial) channels.

Scope out and plan the circle of influence before you embark on a dissemination strategy, for example, a contributed article in a publication widely read by your target audience can be amplified through other distribution channels, e.g., social media, email marketing, website, sales collateral, and more. In addition, repurposing proven content for sales purposes is a savvy approach and opportunity for marketers to tap and allocate advertising and sales budgets for content marketing programs vs. only tapping traditional marketing or PR budgets.

Measure Success

Measurement is a requirement for any successful content marketing strategy. Achieving business goals with your content requires an analysis of the data. A straightforward approach is to measure the following areas: consumption, lead generation, sales and sharing. There are a host of analytics tools that can help content marketers evaluate the ROI of their campaigns.


Content marketing provides ongoing opportunities to tell your organization’s story, effectively engage potential and existing customers, extend the goodwill of your brand and spread key company messages.  For information on how Graham & Associates can help with your organization’s content marketing program—please visit:  

The Value of Online News: Why online coverage is a key component to any successful media relations program

As a society, we’re becoming more digital. We now have smart apps that can monitor our health 24/7, and sensor devices that can detect everything from remote forest fires to available parking spaces in urban jungles. It’s also increasingly how we receive our news. According to Pew Research's State of the News Media 2014: “The vast majority of Americans now get news in some digital format. In 2013, 82% of Americans said they got news on a desktop or laptop and 54% said they got news on a mobile device.”

Still, the placement of news stories in online media seems generally underappreciated by companies evaluating public relations programs and the relative merits of media “hits.” For a number of reasons, including the statistics cited above, companies should embrace Web-based opportunities, rather than discount them. Indeed, here are several arguments in support of online news placements as part of a comprehensive media relations strategy that complements and accentuates those already targeting traditional print and broadcast media:

You’ll find a connected audience:
Readers of online news often read publications that directly suit their professional and personal interests. And they actively find articles and stories through search engines, RSS feeds, and news aggregation platforms while seeking out specific topics. This means news coverage in online publications will likely bring your company an engaged and knowledgeable audience.

Social media can spread your message like wildfire:
Unlike other news formats, online stories aren’t static. Your company’s message can exponentially reach more readers and remain relevant longer if it resonates with readers who share it through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social networks. Also, many popular blogs writing on similar topics may cite and link to your story, providing further traction.  

Online news enables an immediate call to action:
Another important benefit of online news coverage is the immediacy and convenience it allows for readers to learn more about your company and its products and services. While enhancing your company’s reputation and giving it credibility, online news coverage can also bring direct marketing benefits, as most stories include hyperlinks to company sites or products. In such cases, new customers, clients, or partners may be only a click away.

Coverage with a lasting impact: The news cycle of online publications continues well after a story is first published. Previously published articles may be referenced and linked to for the life span of the news site. What’s more, many online trade publications include archived pages with search features that enable readers to find the historical record for that publication’s coverage of individual companies.  

Graham and Associates understands the value of online news coverage. We work hard to get strategic placements for our clients. To learn about how our media relations programs earn valuable coverage both online and off, see

PR Awards: A Discipline of Best Practices & Original Thinking® Rewarded

To secure national and international communications and public relations awards for the work we do for our clients, Graham & Associates, Inc., applies a discipline of best practices and Original Thinking® in research, planning, creativity and execution to achieve measurable results. Experts and industry peers who know what it takes to generate results-oriented PR programs judge our work, and we credit our success to consistently exceeding the norms in our industry in these key areas.

First, we define business goals and objectives to ensure we develop a program that meets our client’s needs. Then, Graham conducts initial industry research scans to identify the issues and trends affecting a brand, and we review the competitive landscape. We listen to online chatter to learn what’s being said publicly. Next, we develop creative messages using Graham’s trademarked Original Thinking® approach to create strategies and a plan with campaign initiatives and outreach ideas that engage key audiences to achieve maximum results. Finally, we measure those results to see how they move the needle for the organization. 

Of course, PR awards are much more than a pat on the back for our agency teams; they are also recognition for the amazing work our clients do. Innovative products and services, coupled with our drive and discipline for raising awareness for them, add up to our roster of top industry awards such as: the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Silver Anvil for Marketing Consumer Services and Overall Public Relations Program, the PRSA Bronze Anvil for Media Relations Business-to-Business, the Communicator Award of Distinction for Program-to-Market Products/Services, the International Business Award for Communications Campaign of the Year in North America, the International Public Relations Association’s Golden World Award for Special Creativity, the MarCom Awards’ Gold for Publicity Campaign, and the Platinum Hermes Creative Awards for Online Placement, to name a few.

As a testament to our continued drive to excel, Graham & Associates just received its 63rd award for excellence in public relations and communications. This milestone comes at the completion of our 10th consecutive year of successfully securing industry recognition.

Please visit the Graham & Associates website to learn more about our award-winning work at  

Product Focus – Why Your Company Needs a Consistent Message

Message consistency is vital for successful marketing communications campaigns, but reaching agreement on messages can sometimes be challenging, especially in organizations where top executives each have their own vision. Building consensus is important.

When dealing both internally and with the public, it’s critical for executives to understand the repercussions of message inconsistency and how a breakdown often leads to a decline in an organization’s status, brand reputation and ultimately its sales. 

Identifying primary and supporting messages up-front is the cornerstone of a successful public relations campaign. Consistency and repetition of messages across all communications vehicles drives success, whether used in internal meetings with employees, marketing brochures, presentations or during an interview with The New York Times. Graham & Associates, Inc., facilitates full- or half-day sessions with management teams using a proven discovery process that uncovers issues and determines the messages that should (and should not) be communicated to your audiences. 

These intensive sessions are fun and interactive and a great team building exercise. We help top management reach agreement on positioning and messages. The outcome is a core set of messages, highlighting your company’s unique differentiators that you can use across all media, customer, employee and partner interactions. 

For more information about our messaging workshops, please visit:  

Raising Your Organization’s Visibility Through Thought-Leadership: How to Engage and Lead the Conversation


Companies, membership organizations and nonprofits all have important things to say, but breaking through the noise to deliver your message successfully can be overwhelming. Here are a few steps we take at Graham & Associates to help our clients prepare, engage and lead the conversation.


1) Lay the groundwork – Solid messaging lays a foundation for your organization’s marketing and communications strategy. Delivering clear and consistent messages that resonate with your target audiences is the basis for increasing your company’s visibility. Awareness and credibility can be short-lived if spokespeople fail to deliver consistent messages across conversations.


2) Build a thought leadership program – The best way to establish credibility is by showcasing your senior talent and their expertise. Identify a targeted thought-leadership platform for executives, and tap their knowledge to address business/market issues prior to joining any conversation. How does their expertise address the unmet needs of the market? Listen to uncover where your thought leaders can engage and lead the conversation. Raise their profiles as experts in their respective areas.


3) Prepare to talk the talk – Once you’ve identified thought-leadership topics, executives need to prepare for media exposure. Media training can refine how to deliver a point of view. Practice answers to tough questions. Anticipate questions that media and other pundits will ask as an important preparatory step before joining the public discourse. Have your ducks in a row, and make sure you can back up your position.


4) Tap conversations – Monitor the media and keywords to identify real-time conversations. At Graham, we follow trending topics and offer strategic counsel on delivering insightful responses and advise on the right time to engage to raise visibility for your company and thought leaders. Keeping our finger on the pulse in real time and identifying strategic opportunities to lead conversations are two of the things we do best.


5) Maintain the momentum – Leading the conversation can happen quickly. Sustaining it takes time, dedication and persistence. Working with a PR firm to ensure you continue to address the issues that matter to your target audiences will keep you actively involved in the conversation and build leadership.


For more information about Graham’s thought-leadership programs for raising and maintaining visibility for your company, please visit us at  

Technology Adoption for an Aging Population

It’s no secret that baby boomers are coming of age and that older adults 65+ now comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population. What’s surprising is that older adults are more plugged into technology adoption than you might expect. Everyone thinks of millennials as adopters of the latest social media, but the fastest growing group of social media users is really parents of baby boomers. Older adults are looking for easy, fun ways to: stay in touch with friends and family on Facebook; share common interests on Pinterest; or remain active by joining a Nintendo Wii bowling team. According to a study by Inc. Magazine, the Internet users ages 65 and older who said they use a social networking site grew 100 percent, compared to just 13 percent by those ages 18-29.
While this is good news for marketers and social networks, it also presents interesting opportunities for the health care industry to improve the health of older adults. With 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) spent on health care, technology can help manage patient care and disease as well as provide the catalyst for older adults to remain independent.
Health care service providers, from hospitals and clinics to retirement communities, can benefit from older adults’ high-tech adoption by using technology in new and innovative ways to address their biggest issues, such as maintaining health, security, independence, engagement and a general sense of well-being, whether they are aging in place or in retirement communities.
Beyond the fun stuff, technology is being used to help monitor patient health remotely via dial-up and mobile phone, and it can actually save lives. For example, technologies that remind individuals to take their medicine at a prescribed time, monitor blood pressure remotely or even keep the mind sharp through brain fitness programs are all available today and will continue to grow as this population demographic grows.
“The marketplace for technology to assist aging adults is expected to grow sharply from $2 billion today to more than $20 billion by 2020,” according to an updated 2011 report by Laurie M. Orlov, founder of market research firm Aging in Place Technology Watch.
This presents a great opportunity for the technology industry, research institutions, health care, aging services and homecare provider organizations to create new technologies or innovative uses of existing technologies to address the specific needs of a growing senior population. It also means these organizations must rethink marketing campaigns and communications tactics, tapping new channels to reach an audience that is now spending more time, and dollars, online.
As the old adage goes, “necessity is the mother of invention,” so stay tuned for exciting new developments in this area.  

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