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Albert Anker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“You Snooze, You Lose.”

In a previous post I referred to an Infographic I’d created that had not delivered the intended results.

The “intended results” were something I had quantified and set an objective for when the infographic was being produced:

Create an Infographic about Tax on Wine to acquire coverage on 39 Root Domains within two months.

This was a modest objective.

(Here’s the infographic, by the way.)

The 39 Root Domains was made up of 20% of the “UK Wine Blogs” and 70% of the Infographic galleries I had tagged and ready in Buzzstream before I’d conceived the content idea.

It’s fairly easy to be featured on Infographic galleries with some creativity in writing descriptions, a little bit of patience, some perseverance and perhaps some ready-made alternative offers to “please pay a submission fee”. I’d been in contact with a number of Wine Blogs previously – some were aware of the brand, and almost all were aware of the subject of the Infographic.

I thought it would be easy – and it probably would have been, if the timing had been better.

“Newsjacking”, Where Timing Is Everything

The idea behind “Newsjacking” is that you create content around a current news story or event designed to attract coverage and awareness for your brand or products by piggybacking onto the story. When done correctly, a piece of content can go enjoy the benefits of “going viral”. Simple ideas can do well from this – Newsjacking doesn’t have to be controversial (occasionally its the news itself that is controversial).

By riding the momentum of a news story, content can travel far and wide and even eclipse the event itself. Timing can be crucial in this (although there are other factors involved in successful Newsjacking). Release the content too soon and you might be drowned-out by the noise of the story that already exists. Publish too late, and…read on.

Initial Concept Stage

The concept for the content was inspired by the UK Budget. Unfortunately the inspiration came on the evening of the Budget itself, rather than a few weeks before. I was new to the industry and though I’d been doing some research (and trying to “go native”) I wasn’t acutely aware of the topic I would cover.

Watching Newsnight at 11pm is an okay time to come up with ideas, but not the best time to open up Photoshop, so I emailed myself a quick note, knowing it’d be the first thing I saw the following morning.

Content Production

I did my research and wrote the content in under an hour, produced a basic sketch and wrote a brief.

Aside from being a little behind with timing, I’d not made any mistakes.

Then I passsed the Infographic idea to a designer who had a thousand other things to do. I thought I’d given enough detail in my brief that he’d nail it first time. That didn’t happen, which was my fault, so we lost a few days to other work and still only had the bare bones of the piece.

I was increasingly aware of the ticking clock so completed the work myself.

This could all have been created very simply using something like infogr.am, but with the brand aesthetic being quite distinctive it was better to make use of that to make it more compelling.

Fortunately the artist we were using for the brand had produced a number of drawings that would easily fit into the theme of the graphic. I was able to use the main character to introduce the data and tell the story.

Actually putting the thing together was easy – because I knew what I wanted and had most of the materials ready.

Publishing & Outreach

I started my outreach as soon as the page was published. I already had a good list of contacts teed-up in Buzzstream. Some were sites I’d already gained coverage on, others had shared the brand on Twitter, and some had replied to previous contact but not been receptive to our ideas – so a mix of hot, warm and a few cooler leads.

I started with outreach to some of the bigger sites, hoping for a few wins with influencers that would lead to sharing in more volume. Then I moved on to smaller sites. Most of those I contacted in my initial run were Wine Bloggers, or “Foodies”.

Whilst handling replies I started to consider other link opportunities – including the sources of the data. If you’re working in a vertical that hasn’t experienced interesting data visualisation, but has interesting statistics, why not include your data sources in your outreach? My pitch was along the lines of “There’s an opportunity on your website for an area to showcase interesting uses of the statistics you provide”.

Results…or lack of

What happened next? Time seemed to run out. The news event that led to the Infographic went off the front pages (offline) and off the minds of my outreach prospects.

I got a handful of links from my outreach and some easy links from infographic directories. Because I had promising feedback from influencers about using the infographic the “next time they write about the subject”, I thought it best to spend my time on other work.

The subject of the content was somewhat “evergreen”. There was no reason I couldn’t get a steady stream of coverage from sites who write about the subject during other times of the year – and if not, then there was always the next UK Budget. I was working on a whole load of other things with the client, and because this was quickly conceived and executed it wasn’t seen as being so necessary a use of time in meeting our longer-term goals.

Learning from Failed Content Marketing: What would I do differently next time?

There are three areas that I’ve identified as lacking.

Planning Content Ideas: This idea is something that should have been in my head from day one. Going through a calendar of events that affect the Wine industry, the Budget is clear to see. So this idea should have been part of the mix of other seasonal/event-based content ideas I had. Of course, I did come up with the idea, albeit too late – if you’re looking for a steady stream of ideas then take a look at Lyndon Antcliff’s Newsjacking Alerts

Production Ownership: This is a more contentious issue – whilst I wasn’t really “responsible” for graphic work, I usually hate to pass things to others if I know I can do as-good a job when its not necessary. It was necessary here – the designer was a resource I had to rely on, and if the piece had met our requirements at first draft then this wouldn’t be an issue – again, my fault for either not taking ownership or delivering a poor briefing.

Pre-launch Outreach: Whilst some of the prospective content partners could be considered “warm”, I didn’t pre-warn them about the Infographic. Because there was a few days difference between concept and publication, I wanted to maximise my chances of them publishing the work by waiting until it was published – in a kind of “wow, look at this ->” way. Good feedback wasn’t the goal, re-publishing was. Giving plenty of time and bringing content partners onboard before the content is ready would have helped massively.

“Evergreen Newsjacking”, or LinkBait You Can Re-use

The thing is, it’s extremely likely that the next UK Budget will result in the issue about tax and duty on wine remaining, even if there are slight changes to the percentage or amount. It’s not going to take much to change the infographic. With the contacts who said “if I write about tax again I’ll be sure to include your work” I know I have some warm leads to keep in touch with and send a new version of the content to. Now that the content exists, and published on a non-date stamped URL, I’m not only all-set, I can come up with ways to add more value to the concept.

A few quick ideas include:

  • A Calculator: People can enter the price of their wine and find out how much is tax/duty. This is a good feature to keep on the site to encourage traffic from linking sites who just post the infographic.
  • Calculator Widget: As above, but making the widget embeddable for others to post on their sites.
  • Linking to a Mobile Application: It’s a very simple calculation, so might make for a nice little Mobile App. This would be the page that promotes the app in the best way, hopefully gaining lots of coverage along the way.

There’s a lot of other content formats you can use to further the reach, or lifetime, of a concept, which may be especially useful if you have another opportunity to jack some news…