What Cision’s 2017 State of the Media Report Tells Us About the Future of PR

With the media landscape constantly evolving, it’s essential that all PR practitioners are aware of current trends and shifts in order to remain at the forefront of their industry. In practicing digital public relations, it is particularly important to be aware of how journalists’ preferences are changing to better engage their growing online audience. Cision, a media communications database, recently released the results of their annual State of the Media Report, which surveyed more than 1,550 media professionals about their preferred practices, biggest challenges and trends to be mindful of. Here are some of the key takeaways from this report.

Know the journalist’s beat before you pitch

According to survey results, 51 percent of journalists reported pursuing a story because of a displayed knowledge of their work, a 16 percent increase from last year.State of the Media ReportBut how can public relations practitioners accommodate these preferences in a practical way?

  1. Create specialized pitches for industry-specific publications and research each outlet to find one reporter that is most likely to pursue your pitch. This way you’re targeting niche publications in a strategic and efficient way.
  2. Create a master list of reporters you have already established relationships with for each industry. This will not only make your life easier when trying to find specialized reporters, but they will appreciate you respecting their beat.
  3. Take one reporter from a few top publications out of your media list and do the necessary research to really personalize those pitches. Maybe reference an article they recently published or trend they often write about. By doing so, you’re showing a vested interest in them and establishing yourself as a quality resource. Even if you may not land an opportunity that time, it will build the foundation for a lasting relationship. Who knows, they might reach out to you again for a similar story in the future.
  4. Take advantage of resources like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters post story ideas and request reputable sources for them. By using this database, you have the opportunity to find specialized story topics that will leverage your expert sources while increasing your chances of successfully landing an opportunity.

Get creative with multimedia

With the news shifting to become shorter and more interactive, journalists are searching for elements to use in their stories that will both entice and engage readers. Nearly 70.5 percent of survey respondents reported almost or always incorporating multimedia into their stories, and they ranked the type of multimedia that they value the most as follows:

  1. Photos
  2. Social Media Posts
  3. Videos including YouTube
  4. Infographics
  5. User Generated Content – Videos Photos
  6. Web Polls
  7. Live Stream / Blogging Embeds
  8. Data Interactives
  9. Animated .gifs

Photos, social media posts and videos come as no surprise as the most integrated multimedia elements in stories, but this presents a major opportunity for infographics. Infographics are useful to not only support a pitch with facts that are presented in a captivating way, but they can be used as a lead for a story as well. But what if certain reporters don’t accept infographics? It never hurts to ask what form of multimedia they prefer to receive and make note of that so you don’t keep pitching them with content they’ll never use. Respecting and valuing their preferences will pay off because knowing what they commonly utilize for their stories will make them a great resource for future opportunities.

Provide valuable and differentiated resources

Journalists are constantly being pitched with press releases and new story ideas, and while survey results show that this is their most valued resource, it’s essential that PR professionals find a way to break through the noise and stand out with their pitching ideas. One way to do this is to tie the lead to something trending in the news or to an upcoming event, which we refer to as news and time pegs. This not only shows that you did your research, but that you are stepping in as a valuable resource by providing a fresh perspective to a bigger story. Expert interviews and story sources were ranked as the second most valuable resource to journalists, so make sure to constantly check resources like HARO for these specialized opportunities. Finally, always be sure that you are presenting ready-to-publish content that helps establish yourself as a credible source. This means going through your pitch and checking for accuracy, grammar and AP style, and being sure that each hyperlink works.

 

Ariana HeadshotAriana is a soon-to-be graduate of San Diego State University and current member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). As a journalism major with an emphasis in public relations, she brings both traditional training and fresh ideas to Circa as their digital public relations and content marketing intern. Her creativity and passion for storytelling contribute to Circa’s digital public relations presence.

 

How to Build Backlinks to Infographics

In the online SEO world, there are a plethora of ways to build links and drive visitors to your resources. As many professionals already know, the two main ways to drive traffic to a site is through paid and organic search. Paid search involves using a marketing budget to boost online campaigns such as Facebook advertising and Google AdWord, whereas organic traffic is traffic that comes to your website as a result of unpaid search and is often achievable when appearing on the first page of Googles search results. As most of us already know, the number of links pointed to a particular domain has a direct correlation with search engine ranking results. So overtime, as resources and infographics gain more links, they will slowly rise to the top of the search engine results page for target keywords and drive the organic traffic you’re looking for.

 

Why are Infographics Used?

Many higher education institutions create infographics around breaking news stories or trending studies. They are then able to take a complex subject and turn it into an easy to understand visualization. When infographics are used as a link building strategy, especially in higher education, they can be leveraged to build links since they are educational, informative resources from high authority universities. As I mentioned in my last Higher Education Marketing Journal post, the reason infographics are preferred over other resources is because humans respond better to visual content and statistic show they are more likely to be shared.

Fast Fact: 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

 

Where do I Find Link Building Opportunities?

Now that you understand the underlying reasons as to why infographic resources are used, one of the first questions that may come to mind is “Where do I find a prospective audience who will link to this resource?”

Before you can start finding potential candidates for your infographic resource, you need to breakdown the infographic into topic specific sections. This will enable you to get a full understanding of what the infographic will discuss, and you’ll be able to identify specific niches and buzzwords which can be used to segment prospective bloggers.

After you’ve completed an in-depth analysis of the visual resource, you can start applying the three following tactics to begin your link building process.

  1. Backlink Analyses on Similar Graphics
  2. Capitalize on News Trends
  3. Identify Niche Experts

1) Backlink Analysis on Similar Graphics

Before you can build links, your first step should always be to find relevant contacts in your niche. The best way to do this is by running a backlink analysis to help you discover the sites that are linking to a specific domain.

In order to run backlink analysis, the first step is to find a list of infographics with similar titles or topics to the infographic you’re trying to link build to. For instance, the following infographic describes the leadership hierarchy in hospitals and healthcare.


leadership in hospitals
Using this as an example, you should run a Google search using the keyword phrase “healthcare leadership infographic” and then start browsing the top search results and images for similar infographic that have similar topics.

healthcare leadership

When you have found an infographic that is similar to yours, the next step is to take the specific infographic URL and put it into a backlink analysis tool such as Moz or Ahrefs. Once you place the URL in the backlink analyzer tool, you will be able find the sites that have linked to other health infographics.

backlinks
You now have a collection of sites that link to infographics within your niche. Next, you need to select the contacts and sites you want to get a link from. If a site has an extremely high domain authority (over 85), the publication will probably not post your infographic because it will not match their editorial guidelines. However, if the resource explains a trending subject in their industry it could still be worth attempting to gain a link from some highly authoritative sites. After you narrow down the most relevant link building candidates, you need to add them to your outreach list and send an email asking if they would be interested in your resource.

 

2) Capitalize on News Trends

The second link building tactic relies on finding publications that are discussing breaking news or trending stories within your specific niche. Since the news is always timely and constantly changing, you’ll be able find a number of news pegs that relate to your infographic. The main objective of this strategy is to tie in your infographic as an additional resource to what is happening in the news. This is a way to give reporters and bloggers a way to back up their initial stories. As an example, let’s say that you have an infographic that discusses the impact of climate change. You simply search for climate change in Google News and filter through the search results to find publications that are speaking about the latest developments on this subject. Check out this screenshot to get a better understanding of what you will be looking at.

climate change search

As you can see, climate change is being discussed on a consistent basis. These are only the first three results and they could all be added to your outreach list. Now let’s take this a step further. In order to improve the chances of gaining a link, you would want to click-through each article and find the exact author who wrote on the subject. Once the author is identified, you’ll be able to angle a pitch that speaks directly to the writer’s interest, giving you higher chance of landing a link. Always remember that the news will change, but with enough creativity you can get your resources tie in with the trending stories.

 

3) Identify Niche Experts

With over 2 million blog post being written each day, there are limitless link building opportunities available. Think about that for a second. This means over 1,389 articles are being published each minute. Now all you have to do is find the right people to reach out to, and luckily enough, the Internet has made it possible to contact numerous experts in fields ranging from artificial intelligence, labor outlook, health trends, and everything in between. The best way to find these experts is by searching keywords through social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. For this example, let’s use the climate change topic again. A great tool to use to assist you with finding these experts is the Twitter Advanced Search Feature. Once you reach advanced search page, always add your collection of keywords in the first line of the search bar and change the date parameters to only focus on the past year.

twitter advanced search
Once you run this search, you’ll be able to filter through the top post, accounts, photos, videos and more, but in order to narrow down to the field experts you’ll want to segment by accounts. Here are the results that were produced from the above search.

climate change twitter
Each of these accounts are either niche publications or experts focused on developments happening in climate change and global warming. Now that you have a collection of climate change individuals at the tip of your finger, the next step is to scrape the entire Twitter search results and add them to your outreach list.

After using these three link building strategies, you will have compiled a list of highly targeted individuals that have built links to infographics before. To finish this process, the final step is to divide up the publications and experts into niche subsegments so you are able to create a personalized outreach pitch that will intrigue each expert.

I hope you are able to build awareness around your infographic resources, gain an abundance of backlinks, rise up in Google rankings and drive organic traffic! Now it is up to you to create your outreaches and email your list of prospective link builders. Happy link building!

 

andersonidea

Austin Anderson is a forward-thinking, motivated marketing specialist. Before Circa, Austin ran an e-commerce business and managed online marketing for startups in San Diego. Austin strives to be a future influencer in the world of digital marketing. Connect with Austin on LinkedIn and Twitter @andersonidea.

Fred’s Favorite University Infographics – Health Edition

As a digital marketer working with dozens of universities across the United States, I help design, research, and distribute infographics across numerous industry niches. With goals of branding, increasing traffic, and SEO link building, infographics must be carefully crafted and well polished in order to be successful.

Earlier this year I selected my four favorite business-themed infographics created by U.S. universities. In that post I highlighted graphics from the University of Vermont, Abilene Christian University, University of Scranton, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Today I am sharing my favorite university-created infographics with a health focus. With the ever-increasing research and conversation surrounding such areas as electronic health records, bioinformatics, and healthcare reform, the health industry has a wealth of opportunity for successful infographics.

Here are a few qualities I like to find in a well-crafted infographic:
  • Engaging and unique topic
  • Researched and organized data points
  • Storytelling throughout the graphic
  • Clean design and data visualizations

While four infographics made this list, many did not. Two aspects of unsuccessful infographics are poor design elements and hyper promotional content. In the world of university program specific infographics, being overly promotional is a turnoff to many potential publishers and sharers. Nobody likes hearing a person or brand bragging and the same goes with infographics.

Secondly, poor color choices and sloppy design can make even the best of topics hard to chew. Sometimes the data points and content of an infographic can be dry, and it is up to a creative designer to make this information consumable. To help liven up dry content, a designer can use icons, charts and graphs. Strategic use of colors, bolding, and subheadings can also help. It is the designer’s job to guide the reader’s eyes through the flow of the graphic.

Without further ado, here are Fred’s Favorite University Infographics: Health Edition.

Adelphi University Master of Healthcare Informatics Online

Telemedicine and Health Informatics Career Opportunities

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.13.36 AM

Enter the full infographic here: http://onlinemshidegree.adelphi.edu/resources/infographics/telemedicine-and-health-informatics/

When a university creates content surrounding careers, it is easy to fall in the overly promotional trap. This Adelphi University program does a fine job of objectively listing facts and statistics surrounding these health tech careers. Here are a few of the positives of this graphic:

  • The title image of this graphic is fantastic with a simple, high-tech design. The title image creatively adds to the overall message of the technical career growth in health care.
  • The story of this graphic has a powerful flow. Beginning with technology growth and moving into job opportunities, the graphic finishes up with an interesting segment on health care disparity in U.S. rural areas.
  • Strong data points back up all claims in the graphic and help tell the vital story of career opportunities in this developing industry.

New Jersey Institute of Technology Online Master of Computer Science

Bioinformatics: How Computer Science in Changing Biology

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.14.43 AM
Enter the full infographic here:

http://graduatedegrees.online.njit.edu/mscs-resources/mscs-infographics/bioinformatics-how-computer-science-is-changing-biology/

It might seem strange seeing a computer science program’s infographic in this list. The convergence of computer science and health makes the content of this graphic powerful and highly relevant in the current health care industry. Here are some favorable aspects to this NJIT infographic:

  • The topic and research behind this graphic is revolutionary and very newsworthy. This aspect is very important in the distribution stage.
  • Imagery usage throughout helps make complex points easier to understand. The images accompanying the genome information help the reader visualize the complex information.

University of Florida Distance Learning Doctor of Pharmacy

Acetaminophen: Still the Safest Way to Alleviate Pain?

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.15.36 AM

Enter the full infographic here:

http://pharmd.distancelearning.ufl.edu/news-and-articles/infographics/acetaminophen-still-the-safest-way-to-alleviate-pain/

The design of this graphic is unique in the sense of the wider dimensions than is generally seen. This dimension alteration allows for different visualization of data, including a short and powerful title. This graphic made the list for a few reasons:

  • The newsworthy and edgy topic of this graphic makes it very shareable. Any piece of content that challenges the pharmaceutical industry with hard data is bound to be of interest to individuals online.
  • This graphic has a clean design that complements the wider dimensions. The content is at times in three columns and design elements help guide the reader’s eyes through data sets and statistics.

Norwich University Master of Science in Nursing Online

Leadership and Hierarchy in Hospitals

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.16.33 AM

Enter the full infographic here:

http://nursing.norwich.edu/leadership-and-hierarchy-in-hospitals/

Norwich University constructed this thought provoking infographic that challenges the hierarchy of hospitals in a variety of ways. The graphic paints a not so pretty picture of U.S. hospital CEO demographics, which are dominated by males sometimes with little-to-no health care sector experience. This eye opening infographic made the list for the following reasons:

  • The first section of the graphic is beautifully designed. At times, designers are faced with visualizing large blocks of text. The geared approach and icons help make this section consumable to the viewer.
  • As with other great infographics, the content is full of impressive data points. Percentages, charts and graphics are important pieces to infographics, and this clean research sets the designer up for success.

That wraps it up for this edition of Fred’s Favorite University Infographics. Keep an eye out for next time when I dive into the field of criminal justice and locate my favorite four graphics created by universities and their marketing teams. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @FredHigherEd

Fred’s Favorite University Infographics: Business Edition

There’s no denying the power of well designed and carefully distributed infographics in higher education Internet marketing. These visuals are mighty tools for link building, driving traffic, and building a university’s brand. To take a step back as to how to define an infographic, I asked Google.com.

infographic
In the simplest terms, the definition above describes an infographic. When considering an infographic in terms of marketing, think infoposter. They are much more than simply charts and diagrams. I would add to the quote above, “A good infographic makes a thousand words feel like a hundred words.”

While it is easy to point out flaws in an infographic, it is harder to establish what exactly makes a good infographic. Here is an excellent creation guide: How to Make an Infographic Work. Also, here are a few qualities I look for in a well-designed infographic:

  • Newsworthy and interesting topic
  • Engaging and well designed title
  • Researched and organized data points
  • Storytelling throughout the graphic
  • Clean design and data set visualizations

Enough rambling, let’s jump right into my five favorite business infographics created by a few universities and their marketing teams. The following graphics fall under the business niche. Enjoy!

University of Vermont’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA
A Look at Sustainable Global Business

UVMig
This well designed infographic from UVM made my list of favorites for a number of reasons:

  • The companies listed and facts given are on point. The research behind the six company’s sustainable efforts is informative and impactful.
  • The design and data organization makes the information flow smoothly with clear visualization of data sets.
  • The color scheme complements the content with beautiful green color palette.

Enter the full graphic here:

http://www.uvm.edu/business/?Page=semba/infographic.html&SM=gradmenu.html

Abilene Christian University Master’s in Conflict Resolution
9 Rules for Managing Conflict at Work

ACUig
We’ve all seen floods of list-style infographics. In my eyes, there are a few factors as to why this one makes the cut:

  • Clear organization of data points. The nine rules are very consumable and have specific data points for support.
  • Hierarchy of information allows the viewer to read deeper into each point as they choose.
  • Strong design and image choices that allow the reader to consume the main points effortlessly.

Enter the full graphic here:

http://conflictres.acu.edu/managing-conflict-at-work-infographic/

University of Scranton MBA
Targeting Your MBA Specialization

UScranIG
While scratching the surface of self-promotion, this well crafted infographic made the list because of these key points:

  • Clean data visualization that eases the viewer into the more detailed content later in the graphic. Note the snippet seen above.
  • Informative, research-backed content. This graphic’s strength lies in its description of exact careers and salaries backed by reputable sources.
  • Very relevant to an audience of prospective students. Students want to know this information, often doing the research themselves, and this is a highly consumable presentation of the facts.

Enter the full graphic here:

http://elearning.scranton.edu/resource/business-leadership/targeted-specializations

New Jersey Institute of Technology MBA
Too Big to Fail: The Five Largest Financial Institutions

NJITig

While a little text heavy in some spots, this graphic made the list for the following reasons:

  • Newsworthy, edgy, and engaging content. An unbiased graphic of the power and effect of the U.S. banking system is a powerful tool.
  • Clean design of differing sections and consumable data visualizations throughout the graphic.
  • Research backed data points from reputable sources across the Internet add to the power of the graphic.

Enter the full infographic here:
http://mba.online.njit.edu/resources/infographics/too-big-to-fail/

That wraps it up for this edition of Fred’s Favorite Higher Ed Infographics. Stay tuned next time as I dive into infographics from nursing and health programs and we see which ones make the cut. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @FredHigherEd

The team I work with at Circa Interactive researches and creates infographics for colleges and universities across the country. Would you like to create a compelling infographic but lack the internal resources to do so? Give us a shout, we’d be happy to help.

Higher Ed Content Marketing: 10 Types of Content

Content marketing is a strong component to any Internet marketing campaign, and is especially important in the competitive field of higher education. We have discussed a few types of content on the Higher Ed Marketing Journal so far, and in this post I wish to broaden the scope of higher education Internet marketing possibilities with ten types of content.

Blogging and Bylines

Starting basic, blogging and bylines are excellent ways to create quality content to inform others and increase the strength of a website’s backlink profile. Individuals or universities may wish to create a blog on their website and publish useful articles for potential students or research updates from their university. This blog could accept high quality byline articles or have a team of in-house writers that keep the blog updated and the content fresh. This type of content marketing can drive traffic to the website, increase the size of the website, and make it more visible in the search engine results—all positive results for an online program.

Bylines are different in that instead of posting content on your own blog, you contribute to other blogs and websites. As an individual is published on sites, their reputation as a thought leader in the industry will develop, leading to possible publications on large scale news sites. The published individual can now respond to comments surround their article as well as share their publication across social media platforms.  This will generate traffic, build strong PR for the university, and build reliable back links back to the university domain..

Interviews

As a higher education Internet marketer, you have an array of cards in your back pocket, one of these being the amount of fresh research and professionals that are involved with the university. Not only are there professors, who are experts in their field, there is also the staff and faculty of the university, including the marketing managers that represent the university. An interview with one of these individuals is a great form of content marketing.

The interview may deal with new research on a specific facet of the program, a new program that is moving online, or a certain award received by a professor or student. Any area the interview covers, it will be seen as quality, fresh, and newsworthy content that will be shared on a variety of websites across the Internet. Interviews are content that will build traffic and awareness to the programs, as well as strengthen the PR of the university.

Infographics

Infographics are a tremendously important form of content marketing. Clayton covered the use of infographics in higher education marketing in detail in his post Higher Education Marketer’s Guide to Infographics. This is another example where a marketer can use the resources she/he has at their disposal—university programs and research. A fresh, newsworthy infographic that is well designed and backed by university research can do wonders in the realm of Internet marketing. Normally, infographics are coupled with a few paragraphs of text, which can be a great introduction for viewers to the content of the graphic. Also, generally with infographic publications, webmasters allow a single backlink to the university, which will build the strength of the website.

Sharable Images

Images are a form of content marketing that are not widely used in higher education marketing, but can be affective if done so correctly. Images are very sharable across the Internet through social media and sites like Pintrest. These may be pictures of the university campus or research developments and can be edited to include text on the image itself. With the addition of text on the image, a ‘meme’ is formed, which is currently a very popular and largely shared type of content.

Case Studies

Case studies are an interesting form of content marketing in the idea that students who graduated from a specific program and have found rewarding careers may wish to help market the program. This form of content can be placed on a university program website or blog for potential students to come across. Case studies are unique and have a high level of believability. Students may also wish to blog or write an article about their experiences with the university and their careers since graduation. Case studies are a good way to help nudge students down the sales funnel, as well as a great form of PR for the university.

Video Marketing

Video is another form of highly sharable content marketing. YouTube alone has as many as 3 billion videos viewed per day and is continuing to grow exponentially. Universities may wish to create videos describing degree programs, offering an insight into the areas covered. Again, the availability of university research and well-respected individuals to interview makes video marketing a consideration for higher education marketers. Shared videos can help in the creation of relationships with thought leaders and potential students online, which are beneficial factors to any degree program.

Intriguing Webinars

Webinars serve as another considerable form of content marketing for higher education. Webinars may be used as informative sessions for potential students or again as a way to demonstrate new findings in the university research. Through webinars, instructors or administrators can show Power Point presentations or other forms of multimedia to viewers in real time. This form of audio and visual content is a strong way to present information to current or potential students.

Optimized News Releases

Higher education marketers utilize news releases to announce new online programs as well as developments to other programs in the university. This form of content marketing is usually shared on a number of news sites across the web and is a way to create awareness of newer programs and develop links to the program website. Press releases can be optimized according to the keywords of the programs and if used correctly, will increase the strength of the webpage in the eyes of search engines.

Social Content

Social content is as simple as a tweet or Facebook status. While this may not come to mind initially when thinking of content marketing, the content that is written on social media sites can be very influential. Using social media for content marketing goes as far as optimizing a Facebook About Me section as well as a Twitter profile. Your choice keywords should be sprinkled throughout a LinkedIn profile, YouTube video descriptions, and even a Google+ profile. Also, forming tweets and Facebook statuses in a search engine optimized way is a great idea for marketers, and utilizing hashtags to increase the visibility of your social content is always a great idea.

Informative White Papers

White papers are guides or reports that are offered to visitors of a website to help explain a concept or solve an issue. These may be applied to a higher education content marketing campaign in a few ways. A university could offer a white paper demonstrate the ROI of receiving a degree or explain why their university is more beneficial than their competitors. White papers can also give potential students rich information about the degree programs they are interested in, again helping to nudge them in the right direction down the sales funnel.

These ten types of content for higher education marketers can be used to enhance any marketing campaign and generate traffic to a website. While many facets of content marketing are covered here, there are still a number more that can be utilized. As the Internet and social media continue to develop, new forms of content marketing will emerge, and it is the job of Internet marketers to keep a sharp eye on these new developments in order to stay one step ahead of the game. 

Higher Education Marketer’s Guide to Infographics

Infographics.  We’ve all heard of them.  Some hate them, some love them.  No matter what side you’re on, you can’t deny that they still work – really well actually.

This especially holds true for colleges and universities, who have the reputation, research, and resources to produce highly sharable and very interesting infographics.  Additionally, webmasters and bloggers may not be interested in infographics from unknown brands but will jump at the opportunity to feature an infographic from a .edu.

My question is, why aren’t more marketing teams making use of them?

In today’s world of higher education, especially for online graduate programs, you must be doing something to set yourself apart.  The market is far too competitive and growing by the day, making the organic search landscape as volatile as ever.  Search engine rankings are still vital for programs to drive and generate high-quality traffic, and the days of relying on basic on-page SEO are gone.  As you’re probably figuring out, your link building strategy must be natural and very well-rounded, and that’s where infographics come in.

The problem is, as most of you know, there are a lot of bad infographics out there.  Marketers think they can quickly throw one together and magically start generating links and social shares.  In reality the topic, content, and design can make or break an infographic.  Additionally, you must have a clear distribution strategy that effectively targets the relevant websites you need but at the same time reaches as large of an audience as possible.

Below I’ll show you why you need to make infographics part of your organic marketing strategy and walk you through, start to finish, how to effectively create and distribute them with the goal of influencing your organic presence.

Why you should be using infographics

When it comes to SEO and rankings, back link diversity is huge in today’s world.  Social signals are also important and definitely play a factor in Google’s eyes.  Fact is, you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to where your links are coming from and when utilized effectively, infographics are the perfect solution.  They provide the perfect mix of relevant natural looking links from niche specific sites and major publications, along with a slough of Tweets, Likes, Shares, Pins, and Comments.

Through the use of infographics, you’ll not only be positively influencing your organic presence, but also driving traffic and brand recognition at the same time.  Win – Win – Win.  What are you waiting for?

Infographic Creation, Start to Finish

Topic Research and Creation

The key to a quality, sharable infographic starts with the topic.  For me, this is the most important part of the process and will determine how effective your infographic will ultimately be.  When researching topics, you must always keep in mind the end goal – share ability.  What will your target audience be interested in learning more about?  You must also keep in mind a broader audience, because ideally you’d like the infographic to appeal to as many as people as possible.  Are there any newsworthy or larger conversations around the program you’re creating the infographic for?

Tools:

1) Alltop.com – Alltop is an aggregator of the top blogs/website that are regularly updated for just about every topic under the sun.  Scan through each category and the blog topics under each.  Which ones stand out?  Are there any topics that are talked about more than others? This is the first place I go to get a gauge on the industry and what’s being talked about.  Not to mention it’s also a great way to find and document potential blogs to target during the distribution process, so keep an eye out.

2) Google news – Throw your infographic topic ideas into Google and see what current news topics render.  This is great for identifying larger trends in the industry and spotting some ideas you many not have thought of.  I personally like to click-through and read some of the articles and usually uncover some new ideas for topics as a result.

3) Google search – search for major publications, journals, or other reputable sources.  This is a great way to get a pulse on the perspective industry and the major topics they’re talking about.

4) Google trends – Google trends is great for gaining an understanding of what people are searching for and is very helpful once you’ve narrowed your list of ideas down to a handful of potential subjects.  Throw them into trends to see if any are relevant now or increasing in relevance.  If you can produce an infographic that corresponds with what’s in the news or what’s popular, you’re life during the distribution phase will be much easier!

5) Schedule time to chat with a professor in the program – This is especially true if you’re at a research university.  These faculty can be a great resource for understanding the industry as a whole, what interests them, and any emerging topics that would be interesting.  Some may even be working on something that could contribute directly to your infographic, who knows.

Tips for Infographic Topic Creation:

1) If possible, try to take advantage of topics that are popular now (if you can turn the graphic around in a timely manner)
2) Ensure the topic is relevant to your target audience
3) Ensure the topic will appeal to as broad of an audience as possible
4) Always keep distribution in mind – ask yourself “will webmasters in the niche be interested in this topic?”

Infographic Research

The research phase of the infographic creation process isn’t rocket science.  The main takeaway here: ensure you’re utilizing highly reputable resources for your research.  If possible, try to centralize your research around .edu, .gov, or highly reputable .coms.  Ditch the wikis, blogs, and other questionable sources.  Better yet, if you can tap into any internal research from one or more of the program’s professors and utilize that data you could really hit a home run.  That way you know you’re working with trustworthy data and during the distribution process you utilize that fact as leverage for the bloggers and webmasters.

Tips for Infographic Research:

1) No wikis, blogs, or other opinion based sources
2) Look within for research conducted by program professors or faculty
3) Don’t self-promote!  No one wants to share that…
4) Ensure your research flows well and tells a clear story

Bonus Tip: When starting your research, first map out the entire graphic by title, then fill in the holes.  In looking at the infographic from a macro perspective, you can get a better gauge of the story you’re telling and ensure it effectively illustrates the topic.

Example:

Title: STEM Education’s Largest Hurdles
Section 1: STEM Overview
Section 2: STEM Progress
Section 3: What’s preventing the STEM Initiative’s Success?
Section 4: The Future of STEM

Infographic Distribution

You’ve created a relevant and interesting title, conducted all of your research, and now you’re ready to show it off to the World.  This is where a lot of marketers tend to get a little lost.  It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start, but the sooner you can nail down a process the better.  I always recommend solidifying your process, then always working to tweak and refine the process.  As with everything else, some channels come and go so you must always keep your eyes and ears open for new ways to get your infographic out to the masses.

To help get you started with your process, here’s a brief overview of mine:

1) Submit infographic to infographic promotion websites

Some of my favorites:

http://visual.ly/

http://infographicjournal.com/

http://www.newsilike.in/submit-infographic/

A great list of additional sites: http://www.paddymoogan.com/2012/01/14/list-of-infographic-sites-for-link-building/

2) Submit infographic to myblogguest.com

  • This will advertise your infographic to hundreds of bloggers, and you get to pick who publishes it (before accepting, take a look at the bloggers site first to get an idea of the strength, legitimacy, and trustworthiness of their website)

3) Seed infographic on social platforms

  • Reddit
  • Stumbleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Slideshare

4) Buy an ad on Stumbleupon or create a display campaign around the infographic

  • I wouldn’t do this for all infographics, just the ones that are highly relevant and interesting.  You can burn through your budget with this so please beware!

5) Have any connections or relationships in the news publication industry?

  • Pitch your infographic to writers at the major online publications
  • Writers tend to love great infographics – think about it, you’ve already done all of the research for them!

6) Research and create a list of highly relevant 40 to 50 blogs and websites that you can manually reach out to

  • When searching for these sources, I would recommend first starting out by searching for infographics around the topic or industry that websites have published in the past.  If they’ve published one before, there’s a good chance they’ll do it again.

Google search: “infographic topic” / “topic” blogs / allinsite:”topic” / allinblog:”topic” / allintitle:”topic”  – get creative!

Followerwonk: Great tool from Moz that can be utilized to find top influencers in a specific industry.  Seek them out and shoot them an email through their blog or website

A few tips:

  • Keep it personal – don’t mass email
  • Keep it brief – get to the point
  • Provide the embed code and attach the original infographic to the email
  • If you can’t reach them through email, try Twitter or Facebook but don’t overdo it!
  • Request the anchor text and URL you wish to use – I would recommend purely branded anchor text or a combo of branded and target keyword
  • Be sure to follow-up!

The Circa Interactive Top 5

Issue# 1

Circa Interactive’s bi-weekly list of the top five articles and blog posts from around the web geared specifically for higher eduction marketers.

1) Higher Education Searches Rise on Google, Reveal Marketing Opportunity [Study] 

Jessica Lee discusses Google’s recent release of their quarterly higher education search analysis and provides insight into demand trends, ppc, and local implications of the higher education search market.

[via searchenginewatch.com]

2) Some of the best higher education copywriting for admissions 

A closer look the messaging and writing styles of university admissions departments, East vs West style…

[via uofadmissionsmarketing.com]

3) The Top 10 Ways to Generate Traffic and Leads for an Online Degree Program 

Robert Lee provides an overview of the top 10 channels an online degree program can utilize, weighing ease of implementation, cost, and effectiveness.

[via higheredmarketingjournal.com]

4) A few excellent higher education information request forms 

Lead forms can make or break a program’s conversion rate, and takes a look at those who are doing it well.

[via uofadmissionsmarketing.com]

5) Campus – Do We Under Market Our Most Important Asset?

Kyle James examines how you can use your most obvious asset to gain a competitive advantage.

[via http://doteduguru.com]

[Infographic] Online Learning – The Clear Future of Higher Education?

Online education is on the rise.  Will is continue to grow and overtake traditional forms of education?  You decide…

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