In this age of short attention spans, it may seem counter-intuitive to champion long-form content for PR and marketing. But in recent years, data has shown its efficacy. Longer content like books, white papers, podcasts, eBooks, and video can take more time and effort than shorter bites, demanding greater depth and creativity, but it can prove very effective.
Content like business books can serve as a strong visibility platform and a route to new opportunities like conference speaking gigs and contributor positions. Robert Glazer of Acceleration Partners penned one of the first in-depth books about performance marketing, which led to a national television appearance, podcast guest ops, and keynotes at marketing conferences. And being a best-selling author can’t hurt when pitching bylines or features to the media. Whereas it was once important for a book to be printed and distributed by a traditional publisher, today self-publishing is a perfectly acceptable route. But note that a high-quality book isn’t (overtly) self-promotional; instead it will offer real expertise and subject-matter authority, and visibility that can last for years.
Content like blogs and opinion pieces allow a CEO to show depth and personality, which helps build a distinct personal brand. Authoring a weekly blog allows a leader to write in her own voice – which becomes part of the voice of the brand. WordPress founder and current Automattic chief Matthew Mullenweg pens a popular and long-running blog (his blogging predates WordPress by 15+ years) where he covers topics from business (The Importance of Meeting in Person) to fun/personal (What’s in my Bag 2017 Edition). CEOs can let their personalities show. Mullenweg comes off as a highly intelligent but also an emotional and relatable guy. Since we’re on the cusp of 2019, CEOs should also consider the well-documented ascendance of video and go a step further with a video blog. Speaking of showing personality, CEO John Legere of T-Mobile has a weekly YouTube series called “Slow Cooker Sunday” that is, yes, a cooking show. It has helped Legere define his personal brand as smart, accessible, and a little goofy. Consistent production of longer PR content allows control of one’s public image instead of leaving it to sound bites, a LinkedIn summary, or “official” channels like annual reports.
In addition to crafting one’s personal brand, long-form content enhances the credibility of the executive and the company. Long-form written material allows an executive more scope to display expertise that an occasional news quote or social post cannot. If a full-length business book seems daunting, a leader can author a regularly published educational blog or video blog on his topic of expertise. Two blog posts each week becomes a permanent SEO-friendly knowledge base. It takes time for writing and filming — and a strong, informed point of view. Video publishing platform Wipster’s CEO Rollo Wenlock launched a daring use of video when he began “The Daily WIP” video blog series in 2017 with the intention of making 100 video in 100 days. Wenlock succeeded in making 97 video posts (3-10 minutes) over the next few months, on which he offered various insights into video marketing and publishing. The CEO exudes a smart but down-to-earth persona. Consistency and quality are key when building a reputation as an industry expert or authority.
The brand-building and authority that longer content confers can can be key elements that differentiate a company from others. Longer content works harder than other forms to help a corporate leader convey a distinct point of view in the service of both personal and company brand-building. Trailblazing Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard outlined his notable business philosophy in his first non-fiction book Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, the first of a trilogy detailing Patagonia’s one-of-a-kind ethos. It was a strong first step toward separating the company from competitors and winning the loyalty and attachment of customers. But the most practical advantage of long form content is improved search rankings.
SEO has to be optimized in almost every aspect of PR content production today, from social posts to case studies. Multiple studies including one by Moz found that Google favors longer blog posts in search rankings, with the top 10 searches coming in all above 2000 words. But this doesn’t mean you should start keyword-stuffing without regard to quality or purpose. Long-form posts of all kinds need to be of significant depth and offer real value to readers; only quality earns the organic traffic and social shares that is the holy grail of content. Don’t forget, video boosts SEO as well. Additionally, good longer content keeps readers on the website longer and strengthens website domain authority.
In the B2B realm, when the basic parameters of offerings are equal such as price, specifications, and product quality, the more subjective measures of value can become deciding factors. Long-form PR content can help decision makers on the buyers journey when emotional factors come into play. A buyer searching for cyber-security software who has narrowed down the choices to two or three vendors may be inspired (or have his anxiety mollified) by the CEO’s book, a demo video series, case studies, or white papers – or by their cumulative effect on the company’s reputation. While not the primary factors in B2B decision making, such content can be a factor in elevating a company into the highest consideration set.