Content Strategy Tips and Tricks
Mo Sherifdeen (00:05):
Okay. I think we can get started today. Hello and good afternoon, everyone. And thank you so much for joining us during your lunch hour. I hope you have a delicious lunch in front of you. If not, we will do our very best to give you some, um, tasty tidbits about content strategy and content best practices. My name is Mo sheriff Dean, and I am the part of the marketing team at travel Oregon. I’ll be your host today and also be responsible for making some bad food puns throughout this presentation. So before, while folks are joining still joining, ah, let’s do a little bit of housekeeping. Shall we? First we are recording the session for those of you who are unable to join us and also using co we’re also using closed captioning because we want to support equity and inclusion goals. If you find it distracting, you could turn it off using the CC button on your, uh, on the bottom of your zoom window.
Mo Sherifdeen (00:56):
You might also be called close, um, closed, closed captioning. So look for that. Um, we will be sharing the presentation deck and recording to all those who joined and registered, and we’ll also be posting it live on the travel or the industry site and the YouTube page. Finally, as you, as you may know, this session is part of a larger, small business marketing webinars series produced by travel Oregon recordings of previous training in the series can be fun on our YouTube page and industry site. And don’t forget, send us your questions via Zoom’s Q and a feature throughout the presentation. You can access that tool in your zoom toolbar. We should be at the bottom of your screen, and we’ll try and answer all your questions in the last 15 minutes of the hour.
Mo Sherifdeen (01:41):
All right, so let’s get started. Um, so here are the folks who are part of this presentation today. Jen Anderson, who is our editor at media America, a custom publishing partner. I’ll formally introduce you to Jen in a few minutes. When she speaks Saatchi York serves as our editor for everything we publish across travel Oregon’s channels, Saatchi will be doing what all good editors do today, which is to manage the flow of this presentation and help a Q and a at the end. She’s also known to post helpful links into the chat as we talk. So be on the lookout for that. Oh, and one fun fact about the team here, even though the three of us grew up on an Island, we all had fun on our way to Oregon, but we just enjoy this unique landscape and telling it stories. Today’s session builds on the past sessions we’ve had as a panelist in the sessions about SEO, social and web pointed out content is the most fundamental building block, probably a web social and search strategy.
Mo Sherifdeen (02:39):
So today we’ll focus on three things. We’ll define content and frameworks. You can use to plan we’ll examine storytelling, best practices for travel, and we’ll finally end with how to best pitch your travel story to travel Oregon. And for really, for that matter travel media in general, really. So let’s get started. What has content? The answer varies depending on who you ask, for example, a journalist for OPB or KGW will say that content for them is a web article or a story on the news to a creative person, like a filmmaker or a writer. They will tell you that content is a story to a web developer. Content means assets, pictures, and words on a website.
Mo Sherifdeen (03:27):
When we asked you what content means to you. We also got a lot of great answers, you know, information customers seek blogging, mostly social sorta. I like that. Any form of communications and typing information itineraries, uh, blog articles, social posts. The reality here is all of the above. His right cotton strategy has been seriously study for the past 11 years and has become a discipline in its own. Right? And the Seminole book on the subject was written by Christina Halverson back in 2009. And she really defines content strategy as a discipline that guides the creation delivery and governance of useful usable content
Mo Sherifdeen (04:10):
From a business content creation perspective. We think that any piece of communications, you put out words, photos, posts, videos, to educate, empower, and inspire your audience. It’s content. Your content should be in service to your brand values, your business goals and your customer needs. When you think about content through this filter, what’s clear is that it’s going to naturally start giving you ideas about the topics subtopics and even cultural moments you want to chime in on that’s appropriate for your branding goals. So now that we have a definition of what it is, how do we go about putting this into practice in our own work
Mo Sherifdeen (04:50):
Strategy really has four elements to it represented by this quiet. Now there are entire blogs and conferences dedicated to content strategy. So given our time here, I’m just going to give you a high level overview of some of these things you want to think about. So the top half of this quad deals with the substance of content itself and why it lives. What is your editorial mission? What topics will you be covering? Who’s your audience? What are their needs? Where does content live print online? What does it look on mobile if it’s online and the bottom half of this quad is all about organization and process. How is content organized, formatted and stored in the database who needs to be involved in sourcing ideas and creating the content? How often do you update content very important here, but word of caution on this websites have a tendency to get to be a dumping ground and can quickly get floated. You’ll definitely want to audit your content every time you redesign your website. And at least once every 18 months ourselves, you know, even, even if they’re like mini audits or so, and obviously the size and scale of your business will dictate how formal you want to get with this type of organization and documentation. And my approach would be totally different if I was a food cart owner, or if I was working, doing this with travel Oregon.
Mo Sherifdeen (06:13):
So even though the study of content has been, is fairly new, doing content to advance business goals has been happening for a very long time. And a lot of it is connected to travel. One of the OGs of content marketing was probably none other than John Deere tractor, which launched the FORO in 1895. The fora was started as a way to give farmers a resource on farming and biased information to best practices, sort of like the farmers Almanac of today as expected. The guide also featured ways in which John Deere equipment could help farmers do their job more efficiently. Makes sense. Another example is a Michelin guide, which is created by Michelin tires to encourage more road travel and hence boost tire sales. They decided to create a comprehensive guide book focused on romancing car travel by focusing on the places folks go and amazing things to see and do and taste. This is what became the Michelin star guide. That’s still being used today for restaurants.
Mo Sherifdeen (07:15):
And we see this romance of travel driving the business side of content creation. With these other examples, the acclaimed Arizona highways magazine was launched by the Arizona department of transportation to increase road trips in order to show off the incredible roads they built across Arizona’s unique landscape. And of course drive more funding through gas tax. Um, and in 1939, the travel department of Oregon’s own state highway commission published the drive Oregon highways to showcase our great state you’ll recognize as modern day evolution of this guide in the scenic byways guide that we publish still in partnership with Odette, finally, author from a built-in entire content publishing business, simply because his army buddies trusted him to give them the best advice on places to go and things to do in Europe on their days off.
Mo Sherifdeen (08:07):
But today’s marketing landscape is complicated, right? It is no longer enough to create a magazine or a website. We have all made decisions to talk to our audience across all these platforms, search social marketing automation. What have you, there’s a lot of channels out there. Um, more channels feed the hunger for more content. And that in turn just means we have to constantly keep feeding the content beast. So how do we think about and plan our content framework for these disparate platforms? One framework that I like to use that works really well for the travel industry in particular is a three H content framework. If you think back to a psych one Oh one class from college, this is essentially a model than Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And think of it as a content, or we could call it a content sandwich and I’ll get to that in a little bit. At the bottom of the pyramid, we have pull content content that helps answer customer questions. This is your foundation at higher up, we have push content. This is the hub, which is content designed to keep your brand top of mind. This is the meat of your content. And at the top, we have the hero content, large tent pole moments to raise brand awareness. So let’s dive a little bit deeper into each of these layers of content.
Mo Sherifdeen (09:27):
So help content is timeless pull content that helps answer questions or acts as a resource help content is your foundation. It builds on your reputation and authority. It answers many customer questions as possible. And, you know, think about all the customer calls. You get those keywords driving, organic search. Once you’ve tackled that, then you can move on to subtopics and related topics. If content was a sandwich, this would be the bread. And you know what a sandwich servant’s soggy bread is just not good, right? If you don’t have a lot of resources to begin with focus here. So let’s look at a few examples that I like, um, Tillamook cheese on the top left here. Um, my left shows us how to love and use cheese. Even more through recipes with home, cooking up during the pandemic. Recipes are a timeless way to add value to your product, especially if you’re a small farm or producer, uh, below that we have trouble Southern Oregon.
Mo Sherifdeen (10:26):
Another good example is, is how they provide deep content on all the things to see and do at crater Lake, from where to stay trails, things to do, being an authoritative source on the key attraction in your region is a timeless strategy and a key strategy for deemos moving to the right. We have the tulip festival flower reports that are updated regularly with what’s happening on the two of field and what to expect on any given week. This is also a pretty common strategy for farms and farm stays. And you pics because let’s face it. Nobody wants to show up at the farm and have a pretty bad, uh, tulip, uh, to live Instagram, to show off, right? We all want those blurry shots for Instagram. Um, below that we have Les Schwab Schwab’s tire chain video is more in the educational realm. You know, having to put chains on your car, it can be nerve wracking and especially in an ice storm, it’s even worse.
Mo Sherifdeen (11:23):
The best video takes all the guesswork out of how to use those chains. And let me tell you that as someone who grew up in an, in a warmer climate, I watched this video at least once before every winter driving season. Finally, our last example year is REI camping guide. It’s an infographic that tells you all the essentials and safety gear you need on your camping trip. Think about it, think about all the things that you have to do when you pack your family up for a camping trip and having this handy guide is just invaluable. So the common theme with all these content examples is that they are helpful. They’re in service to folks and completely in line with their business and brand values. Finally, if you’re a DMO and are looking for ideas about what this base layer of content should be, I highly recommend the recent study from miles partnership that looked and identified content that’s key for both web and visitor guide audiences based on a study of 60 plus BMOs, uh, both websites and visitor guides, uh, and included everything from recommendations on outdoor recreation, restaurants, hotels, and of course COVID-19 restrictions.
Mo Sherifdeen (12:32):
All right, let’s move on. Um, let’s look at hub content. This would be the meat of your content sandwich regularly scheduled push content, designed to engage your most loyal audiences. Think of it as a regular programming that your audiences will be expecting. So a few examples that I like, um, at the top, we have travel Portland’s food card finder. It really builds on Portland’s reputation as a food card Haven. I love this tool because it gives visitors a reason to keep coming back to the site for ideas on new food carts, to try based on cuisine type and location and even mood. And they are doubling down in this tactic by also launching a pour them patio finder so relevant for the times you are in. And it’s something I just use yesterday. So it’s a tool for both visitors and also locals, and it keeps that engagement on your site.
Mo Sherifdeen (13:23):
Uh, the next example I have is on the bottom left is the Royal treatment fish fly fishing. It’s a fly fishing shop in Westland that does a really great job of, uh, doing a weekly email fishing report on where the fish are biting and also promote skills classes. I like this because it constantly feeds fishing fans with information, but it’s also building skills through their classes and guiding services. And, uh, next we have the Oregon coast, uh, demos do this really well. Uh, just sharing an example that I like is sharing sealing seasonally, relevant, engaging content, giving folks a reason to visit. Again, it’s a great way to keep your audiences engaged. Finally, an example from another industry is BabyCenter parents you’ll remember this one, uh, BabyCenter provides regular updates on tracking a baby’s growth from week one, all the way up to birth and beyond.
Mo Sherifdeen (14:15):
These are those emails and articles that tell you your baby’s now the size of a grapefruit and what organs are developing. And, um, the, the reason this is relevant is because BabyCenter for a long time was owned by Johnson and Johnson. And guess what they want to sell you a bunch of baby products. So to summarize folks, come to your hub content for the sustained nourishment and calories, it provides doing this. We’ll take a regular investment in a content budget, but if you have it, this is a great way to keep your brand top of mind to past and future customers. All right, where at the top, the pyramid, this is the hero content. This is the self-actualization part of your content pyramid. These are those wow moments. It’s that feeling you get when you taste that perfect sandwich, these are the large, these are large-scale tent-pole moments or campaign activations designed to raise brand awareness and put your work on the map. These moments don’t come by too often, but if you have these moments, think about how you can fire up all of your marketing firepower to support these efforts and take advantage of the attention. It brings a few examples here, uh, travel Oregon’s O S E uh, campaign only slightly exaggerated REI opt outside. And of course the Lego movie, uh, uh, is kind of three big examples of those kind of big hero moments.
Mo Sherifdeen (15:39):
So now that we have the types of content figured out, how do we measure content? Measurement really depends on your goal and the stage you’re in. And often it can be difficult. Ultimately it will be nice to tie a piece of content to sales, as in how many chains did Les Schwab sell based on that tire chain video, or how much camping gear did REI really sell based on the infographic, but that one-to-one correlation may be difficult. So you may have to look at ancillary metrics to correlate content to your larger goals. For starters, it could be everything from reduced calls to your office, reduced bounce times to increase time on site. Another layer is engagement metrics, especially on hub content, repeat visits, shares, and comments clicks from an email or social or time spent with the content. Sometimes actually having the only comprehensive resource on a subject in and of itself is a win. This may be the case with travel Portland because it’s food card finder and patio finder are so unique. This means both inbound links from partners, and also earn media coverage from media accounts as, as a win and a way to measure the effectiveness of that piece of content. And finally, in case you think content doesn’t matter. Our most recent user study of travel, oregon.com and its content shows that that our content increases our visitors length of stay between 1.9 days for locals and 2.2 days for out-of-state visitors.
Mo Sherifdeen (17:10):
So now that we have the mechanics of content strategy out of the way, let’s focus on the heart of it all, which is the storytelling part. So what makes a good story? I am really excited to introduce my cohort in this presentation. Jen Anderson, to tell you a little bit about storytelling, best practices. Jen is an editor at sea as a senior editor at media America travel Oregon’s content partner, and she has written and edited stories and helped coordinate assignments for the past five years. She’s also a longtime newspaper journalist. Who’s covered everything from politics and food and drink to local news and sustainability for the Portland Tribune, Jen, a native of Honolulu. She moved to to Oregon in 1999, and hasn’t left since she lives with her husband and two teenage sons in the Portland area and travels across Oregon around for work and pleasure. She and her family enjoy standup, paddleboarding, biking, camping, backpacking, skiing, visiting brewpubs and wineries shopping and small towns and dining out as much as possible. It sounds like the perfect Oregon job. Right? All right, Jen, take it away,
Mo Sherifdeen (18:32):
Jen. I think you’re muted.
Jen Anderson (18:36):
Let’s start over there if somebody is muted, right. So that might help a little bit. I thought it was me. Thank you, Mo. Um, I wanted to thank you all for spending your lunch hour with us. Um, although we probably wish we could all be outside right now. Um, I’ve had the privilege of working with many of you over the years, and if we haven’t met yet, then please drop me a line and I’d love to get to know you. Uh, so I’m going to dive right into my portion, which is all about helping you elevate your profile for visitors on travel Oregon’s platforms or any other form of media that you seek. Uh, so the question is what makes a travel story for you? It’s something that might inspire visitors to come and see you during their Oregon travels or even planning a trip around what your business has to offer, whether it’s food, beverage, outdoor dining lodging, a unique experience, or, uh, simply an amazing destination. Uh, we’re going to talk about all the ingredients for a great travel story, obviously for, uh, pretty pictures, make us all inspired to visit, uh, someplace next. Am I still muted?
Jen Anderson (19:56):
Sorry. I think people can hear me now. Uh, the first ingredient is inspiration. Um, so think about what inspires you to travel. It could be nostalgia. It could be the people you might need. It could be a chance for my mobile hands-on experiences and a way to bond with your family or a way to celebrate the season. So these are all things that inspire us and that make for an amazing travel story. Uh, the second main ingredient is information because it’s not just enough to be inspired. Uh, so if you think about what inspires you to, Oh, sorry. We’re on the information part here. Think about what kind of information, uh, you appreciate as a traveler. We strive to provide information that’s road tested. That’s easy to read, that’s uncomplicated and that’s accessible and welcoming for all. Um, when it comes to types of travel stories, there are a lot of them out there and these aren’t set in stone.
Jen Anderson (21:00):
Um, the seven stories, types of stories we’re going to share with you are just, um, some that we typically produce, um, on travel Oregon’s different platforms. The first type of travel story is the itinerary, uh, is great for most destinations. And we have a lot of itineraries out there. Uh, this piece we produced for Aqua is a template that offers that places to eat places, to stay and things to do that happens to fall under a wellness theme, uh, that are open and accessible during the fall. Uh, so the more specific the type of itinerary, the better, um, and one thing to note is that we strive to promote more crowded destinations in the slower seasons and less crowded destinations. And during peak season,
Jen Anderson (21:51):
Another type of story we produce a lot is a feature story, which is just a longer story that might include multiple interviews from different sources and goes deeper into the topic. So this one is about Wildcraft studio in Portland, which provides classes to the public that are taught by native instructors. Oftentimes features will be written in a first person, um, voice, uh, by a writer who is an authority on the subject. And we produce a batch of travel Oregon, uh, features each season. Another example is the Roundup. Everyone loves cheese and Southern Oregon has a ton of places to find it. So this is just one of many Roundup stories we produce. Um, it works well for lots of different categories, whether it’s bigger reason, Oregon clam chowder spots on the coast, uh, wineries with outdoor patios in the rogue Valley or places to paddle around Portland, pretty much any category can be turned into a Roundup story.
Jen Anderson (22:52):
Um, they’re fun to read and they get a lot of clicks. So you can think about what kind of Roundup your business or destination might fit into. Uh, another example is a news story. So it was nice to have a timely hook for a story like the Centennial anniversary of the seaside phenomenon, which we wrote about for the seaside visitor Bureau, uh, news hooks can be about the start of a program, the opening of a trail of business expansion, a big anniversary, or an award, um, other timely events. So think about what’s newsy about your business or destination that might be of broad interest.
Jen Anderson (23:33):
Another example is a trend story, but we don’t want to be trendy, but we do write about trends like RV camping during the pandemic or wellness trips or forest bathing. If you’ve heard of that, um, this was part of a series written by an avid RV or during the start of the pandemic. We have one of, for each region of Oregon, Oregon. And so even after the pandemic, the content will remain relevant because people love to write in RVs the service stories. Um, these are like MOAs referencing in the health category. They explain how to they provide tips and tricks or answer FAQ’s. They oftentimes relay industry messaging. So this was, um, uh, serving the needs of boost awareness of fishing guides on the coast and includes interviews with a few of them and talks about the benefits of hiring a guide Final example of a travel story is the profile. So we often write profiles about notable people, businesses, or institutions. They can be long or short. This was a short one and a five questions format for the road Valley wine country newsletter, which we helped produce is generally a spotlight that focus out focuses on many facets of the subject. So in this case, it was their beautiful tasting room, their biodynamic farm, their winter tasting menu and visitor opportunities.
Jen Anderson (25:03):
So those were the seven types of travel stories we typically produce. And when you do score some well-earned coverage, we want to encourage you to think about trying different approaches to making your editorial content more accessible and social friendly. So here are a few examples of things. Travel Oregon has tried with social tiles and infographics to engage your, uh, the social audience and drive readers deeper into the content on the website. You can see there’s a beautiful illustration of winter birds in Oregon to match a story about winter birding. There’s an interactive map of places to spot fall foliage. And there’s our tips on how to beat the crowds at Oregon ski areas. Um, when it comes to social, um, Instagram stories, engagement, polls, and fill in the blank type slides are more fun ways to bring your content goals to life. So as you sit back and let all this sink in and know that everyone has a story to tell, but what is the news that others will think is interesting. So it’s kind of like telling stories about our kids. Is there news that people, other people actually want to hear about them? It might be something that, uh, is super remarkable. That’s what we want to hear. That’s what, um, might make a statewide story of interest.
Jen Anderson (26:31):
This takes us to part three, which is a behind the scenes look at all the considerations that go into travel. Oregon’s editorial content.
Jen Anderson (26:41):
The editorial mission of travel Oregon is to be the trusted source for Oregon trip, inspiration and information. Um, and to support that mission, just like we said, we published content across the publishing ecosystem, designed to ignite a Traveler’s desire to experience our state. And so our editorial lineup is designed to inspire, educate, and activate travelers on the range of places and people to experience an Oregon Travel Oregon’s content, as you probably know, comes across in multiple ways, the annual print of visitor guide travel, oregon.com website, the newsletters and the Facebook and Instagram social media challenge channels. So through print website and social travel, Oregon reaches nearly 8 million impressions annually, and the audience includes both in-state and out-of-state folks who have described the content as well-organized and a resource that uncovers hidden gems.
Jen Anderson (27:45):
There are a lot of things that come into play when we’re selecting our editorial coverage, we build the content calendar three to 12 months in advance. So that’s probably the biggest factor, um, which I’ll get to a little bit later, which is timing. Um, here are the other factors I’ll just quickly go through them requests from partners at the top regional equity, of course, all of Oregon, seven regions, uh, content gaps, and what currently exists out there. Sometimes there are campaign needs for different seasons or, um, special promotions, uh, what’s new and in season and Oregon popular themes, just like we discussed trends that might be happening. Our DMO tours, our tours that, um, sometimes the editorial team would take around the state they’re temporarily on hold and communications and messaging needs. So all of these different considerations factor into what’s called the Oregon playbook, which has a big collection of editorial content and a calendar format. Okay.
Jen Anderson (28:55):
Moving on to six tips for pitching your story. So how can you best position your story in our content? Um, in our earned media,
Jen Anderson (29:07):
We have six quick tips here. We’re going to run through, um, they’re all at the bottom of the slide. So as we discussed, um, planning ahead is pretty crucial. So please send us your story ideas in advance. So for example, um, we love haunted, um, tails onto the stories around October chorus for Halloween, but the time that we’d be planning, those stories is in the summertime. So don’t wait till October to tell us about your haunted kitchen or haunted hotel room, but let us know earlier and we’ll plan it into our lineup. A second tip is to be concise. You can start with the basics and then provide any supporting info if you hear back. So don’t feel intimidated or anything. Just reach out with a quick hello, and, um, tell me a little bit about, um, where you think your, um, story might fit in. And then we would love to get back to you. Another tip is, uh, let’s see here, define your story. So this story is about a Salem cider maker. Uh LaFamilia which made sense for travel Oregon, because it has the distinction of being Oregon’s first Latino owned cider company. If it was a story in a Salem publication or for a cider magazine, uh, it would might, you might take a different approach when pitching the story, but think about tailoring your pitch to the specific media outlet.
Jen Anderson (30:41):
Jen Anderson (30:44):
Uh, tip number four is to consider the times. So when the pandemic started, everyone was looking for outdoor dining spaces and travel Oregon sought to promote them through this story. And many other stories since so consider what the general public needs and desires are and how you might fit into that picture.
Jen Anderson (31:04):
Jen Anderson (31:07):
Similar one here, um, study the content. We produced a series of give the gift of Oregon stories, one for each region of the state to promote small businesses with gift type offerings for available for order online. So before you contact with us, uh, with a story pitch considered taking a look at the website and seeing if and how your business is already represented or has been included and then reach out and just, um, shift the angle a little bit,
Jen Anderson (31:38):
That brings us to tip number six, which is to please follow up. We may have missed your first email, or it may not have been the right pitch, but don’t give up, we do want to support you and help, um, look for a way for you to fit in. So please, please be back in touch. And I included this story example because we strive to promote, um, diversity and equity and all of our, um, avenues. So if you ha if your story or your business or destination has an element of diversity and equity, please include that as well.
Jen Anderson (32:15):
Next, we have anatomy of a good pitch. Um, you’ve seen what we consider to be a travel story, what they often look like and what we consider when selecting them. So here are some tips on sending a good pitch, um, as we discussed, the more specific, the better, the timely or the better, but it should still be sort of evergreen and other words able to live on the forever. Um, and if it doesn’t work out when you first contact us, please keep on working. Uh, please keep on sending your ideas anyways, because when you’re on our radar, there’s a good chance that we’ll find a home somewhere on our content channels.
Jen Anderson (32:58):
Uh, we are on the home stretch here almost time for Q and a. Uh, if you, we just wanted to mention that if you do have budget for editorial style content on travel, Oregon, oregon.com, there is a program called, uh, your story everywhere, uh, media, America partners, with you to produce these sponsored stories, to support your messaging or campaign goals. And they post the travel Oregon’s, um, landing pages on trip ideas and things to do so the contact info, if you’re interested in the sponsored story, opportunity is in the appendix of this presentation, which will be sent under advertising opportunities. That is the end of our presentation, but please stay for Q and a. We would love to hear your questions and thank you so much for your time. All right, go ahead.
Sachi Yorck (33:57):
Oh, I just saw, we have one question so far that I think Jen can answer it’s from Peter and he’s asking in terms of setting pitches to Jen, do we send them directly that you look for? Um, yeah. Jen, I wonder if you could elaborate on that.
Jen Anderson (34:14):
What was the second part of the question? Is there, what
Sachi Yorck (34:17):
I added that on? Is there a that you’re looking for pitches, should they be sending them to you throughout the year? What kind of key did they expect?
Jen Anderson (34:26):
Yes, please send them to directly to me and I will route them to whoever they need to go to. Um, cause we work, I work closely with Moen Saatchi and everyone else at travel Oregon at various times throughout the year. So like I mentioned, uh, think a season ahead, if you think your story might be good for one season, pitch it to me a season ahead.
Sachi Yorck (34:51):
So you heard it folks, her inbox is wide open and ready for you next. I think this one’s good for Mo uh, you mentioned auditing your content every 18 months. Could you recommend how to get started and what tools you would use to audit content?
Speaker 6 (35:07):
Sure. So, I mean, there are a host of, you know, um, off the shelf tools that actually scan your website and, you know, put stuff in a database for you, but you know what we use despite all the content that we have at travel Oregon. I think the, what I find the most handy is just old fashioned spreadsheets or Google sheets, you know, um, create nice tables. And, uh, it also helps that we track our content on a spreadsheet. So if you don’t already do that, there are tools, commercial tools out there like gathered and other
Jen Anderson (35:38):
Tools that help with content auditing processes. But at the end of the day, it’s about, you know, looking at those key landing pages and making sure that the content is relevant, uh, still useful, um, for folks and making sure that, you know, it answers the questions that you’re getting from the customers.
Sachi Yorck (35:58):
Great. And I forgot to introduce myself earlier. I’m Saatchi for the content team at travel Oregon. So I’m going to be facilitating the questions. So send them in you guys. And we’re here to answer, uh, I have one for Jen. Do you have a preference for short form or long form content? What’s the ideal length that we should be posting?
Jen Anderson (36:16):
Good question. We have space for different lengths of content. Our typical stories that you might find in an email newsletter are between 608, 800 words. Um, uh, [inaudible] stories are typically written written by staff features. We assign out to other writers, but, um, let’s see what else. Uh, so the answer is basically all lengths, all stories. We can work with you to figure out what the best fit might be.
Sachi Yorck (36:50):
Uh, and so I’ll let Moe answer this one. Um, though Jen, jump in. If you have something to add, you mentioned stories featuring diversity and inclusion as of interest while other types of pitches are particularly of interest in need by travel Oregon. So Mo and then Jen. Okay.
Jen Anderson (37:06):
Yeah, I would say, I mean, Jen covered the, kind of the basics of it. We’re always looking at what unique angles of Oregon, right? So, uh, and also we don’t want to duplicate content. So, you know, um, travel Oregon, at least from travel Oregon’s perspective, we don’t want to write the same story about the Portland Rose festival that traveled Portland’s doing so what’s our take on it. You don’t want to create the same piece of content. So unique story angles, unique people, people doing cool and interesting things. Uh, innovation, we’re always looking for that. And, and of course, diversity, um, is part of that as well.
Sachi Yorck (37:43):
Great. Um, so next, I’ll give this one to Jen from it, editorial writing pitch standpoint, uh, from someone who’s written for us before, how much of a role does the ability to highlight places that leads to potential commerce, such as stays in hotels, dining services, et cetera, factor into our decision in choosing a story. And at what point is profiling one thing too much and almost bordering as an advertorial.
Jen Anderson (38:10):
Oh, that’s a really good question. I mean, I’d say that, um, there are so many different things we take into account. Of course, it’s always nice to give love to all sorts of businesses. Um, but it doesn’t have to, for instance, um, when we write about a beautiful area to hike in, um, there aren’t necessarily a ton of businesses mentioned so commerce, isn’t the only factor, um, when as something
Speaker 6 (38:37):
Bordering on advertorial, that’s a good question. Um, if we did choose to write about a single business, we would typically broaden it a little bit. We would say, Hey, this is one cider maker, but here are some others around the state. Um, that’s my thought for now,
Sachi Yorck (39:03):
Right? And just to add to it, you know, having that book really keeps it from being an advertorial. If there’s something timely and newsworthy, uh, we’re not necessarily trying to sponsor a business, we’re just letting people know, but great question, uh, next Mo in terms of content life, because it is a life lifestyle. I do recommend actually removing older blog posts, if they have little current relevance or what if they’re timeless in terms of information, but are older posts for three to five years previously. Good question.
Speaker 6 (39:35):
Yeah, I think that’s a, that’s a great question. And, um, you know, we have, so I don’t, I believe the last time we updated our website, we actually, uh, got rid of, uh, or archived a ton of posts from 2009 and beyond because I mean, face it, it’s just old at this point and even stuff that’s timeless. I think you want to check, um, because conditions that change, especially this last 12 months, conditions have changed so much with COVID restrictions and trails that are open and the fires, the fires, uh, things have been closed. So I think you also want to refresh existing content, which is also a good strategy. Um, you don’t want to keep publishing a new story about, you know, a specific event or place every year, a tactic that we use at travel Oregon a lot is refresh existing stories and add new twist to it or new personalities so that, you know, we’re, we’re taking a lighter touch with that existing piece of content, but still maintaining the SEO juice, if you will.
Sachi Yorck (40:35):
Great. All right, next, I have one for Jen, uh, because your inbox is now wide open to the public. Everyone who’s watching this, you know, her email, uh, if we have a couple of pitch ideas, should they be shared in one email or separate pitch emails? What’s your preference?
Speaker 6 (40:51):
Oh, sends it in one email,
Sachi Yorck (40:56):
Easy peasy. All right. Next, we have a question from the coast. Are there any new social or content platforms that we might want to consider besides Facebook and Instagram? I’ll let Moe take that one.
Speaker 6 (41:07):
Oh man. This is my favorite question. Um, and this is kind of fun because as marketers, like, it’s always, we’re always drawn to the shiny objects, right? So it’s like, Oh my God, it’s Tik TOK or the new, you know, splitting audio platform. That’s, that’s new and shiny. Um, and I’m always like cautious about this because, uh, the more channels you take on, that’s more things you have to feed, and it’s not like you could one piece of content and repurpose it for multiple platforms, right? So, um, every platform has its own unique kind of spin or, you know, dimensions for images and how people use it. And so, um, just remember that the more you take on the more you have to put on the back end to create that content and support, and it’s really easy to, um, start a channel, but it’s a lot harder to keep it going.
Speaker 6 (42:00):
And so I would think really hard before you jump in on a new platform, um, for travel Oregon, our main platforms at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, uh, from a media, you know, newsy standpoint and Pinterest, uh, we found a lot, you know, we drive a ton of traffic through Pinterest, uh, and we use it a lot for more long form evergreen stories. So think really hard. And I know it’s hard to resist as a marketer jumping on a new platform and being the first, but, um, take a hard look at that and look at your resources before doing that.
Sachi Yorck (42:36):
Great. Yeah, the theme, there might be some due diligence and, uh, maybe some personal exploration of those platforms, as you mentioned. Uh, so next, um, how let’s see, um, Jen, what was the first step of creating it as for your calendar look like for someone who’s totally never done that before.
Jen Anderson (43:00):
Uh, if we’re talking about travel oregon.com or for we’re talking about travel Oregon editorial calendar, or,
Sachi Yorck (43:10):
Oh, you’re a small editorial calendar for the first time. What are the factors that you should put in there that aren’t too big of lists?
Jen Anderson (43:19):
Yeah, I think definitely just considered timing. So maybe it’s easy to think about it in terms of seasons. Um, what do you want to promote about your business or destination in the spring, summer, fall and winter? Um, is it, uh, something having to do with the outdoors? Is it, um, some special, um, ingredients or offering that you’re going to be having at one time? So kind of just plan that in there and, and build around it.
Speaker 6 (43:49):
Well, also, I’ll also add, um, we have some links to, um, build like templates for content calendars that you can use. But, you know, when we travel, Oregon started our content journey, um, a few moons ago, um, we just started with a simple spreadsheet, you know, just rows and columns of, of themes by channel. And we started there, but in the appendix that will come in the presentation, you’ll have some links to some templates that we shared.
Sachi Yorck (44:19):
So that’s just a little reminder, fill out your survey after this webinar as well. And then you get that appendix and please put your questions right now. Y’all uh, okay.
Speaker 6 (44:28):
While we wait for questions, I’m going to actually a quick plugin for listings content. Um, it’s just the bane of your, all of our existence, uh, for so many, so many years and, uh, travel. Oregon’s really excited to roll out a new program to help demos and businesses manage their listings with Google because we know Google is where we all start our day. And, uh, we have a new program with a Portland business called local to help enhance and optimize your Google, my business listings. And, uh, my colleagues Cecilia and Kate will be leading this webinar on March 11th. So you will join us. Um, registration information is up there and the highly recommended because, uh, we know that, um, when folks come to your DMO websites while they are looking for inspiration, they’re also looking for information and you can really inspire without information. All right. That’s my plug.
Sachi Yorck (45:28):
I’ll be there too, but I’m excited for that one to me. Great. Um, Mo how does SEO and keywords come into play when creating content?
Speaker 6 (45:40):
Oh, that’s huge. So, um, I talked a bit, a little bit about our help content. I think, I mean, a lot of DMS and businesses at about 60% of your traffic is organic search. At least for DMS, I’ve looked at it’s it’s, uh, you know, upwards of 60% comes from search. And so, uh, an easy, you know, starting point is to look at those keywords that are driving traffic to your site and making sure your landing pages are addressing those content needs. So if you’re getting a lot of content, uh, questions about, uh, for example, if you’re a restaurant and people are wondering about your, your menu, that’s kind of a basic restaurant bread and butter content question, you know, making sure you have those landing pages that are updated frequently with your menu information or how to get there. Um, state parks, like for example, with travel Oregon, there is a, um, you know, we get a ton of information about where to go and what to do in state parks.
Speaker 6 (46:33):
And so we spent a lot of time enhancing those pages to make sure that we’re driving, uh, traffic appropriately, uh, within our site. And then you also want to look at your bounce rates. So if people are coming from search, but not really staying on the page, that’s a red flag that something you’re not something you’re doing on your site is not resonating with your travelers. And so again, I’m going to plug in another webinar, the webinar that we did a couple of weeks ago on SEO really talked about best practices for how you audit your SEO, your keywords, and figure out how you can cater to those, uh, those, uh, that audience, Sorry,
Sachi Yorck (47:22):
Classic classic zoom. All right. For Chad is timely or evergreen content more important.
Jen Anderson (47:30):
I would say both. We want to have our cake and eat it too. Um, the beauty of the website is that we can refresh it at any time, like when Moe is saying. So if, uh, say the story about, um, the seaside Promina had turning, um, 100 this year, and we say, there’s a celebration in August. Um, we can, after August, we can update the story and just, uh, take out that little tiny part. And the whole entire rest of the story is evergreen, because it’s about the history of the prominent. So we can’t, so timeliness is important, but evergreen is content. Evergreen content is actually a little bit more important.
Jen Anderson (48:16):
Sachi Yorck (48:19):
Uh, next, can you explain the difference between audience and traffic just on a high level
Speaker 6 (48:26):
And traffic? Um, well, traffic would be like your search traffic, right. And audience, I would be more of a general, like the type of people you’re trying to pitch. So if I was, um, if I was REI, right, um, I’m an OML outdoor outfitter. Um, my audience could be people who are interacting, but also people you want to get into rapping. So you might want to target, um, families looking for outdoor recreational opportunities, people looking for a COVID escape, COVID safe escape. Um, so I, so I guess that’s how I would look at it as audiences, your target market, and then your traffic is your actual, um, search traffic from inbound links and search and other efforts.
Sachi Yorck (49:12):
Fabulous. Thank you. Uh, next for Jen, we have a question. What are some potential already well-worn path, as far as content areas to pitch? So you mentioned off the beaten path, where are the well-worn ones?
Jen Anderson (49:27):
Uh, let’s see. I don’t know that we’re necessarily looking for well-worn paths of stories, but, um, I mean, it’s such a challenge and well, yeah, like you’re saying, and we’ll warn paths, um, let’s see, just really new angles. Um, we want say it’s a popular place, like cannon beach or bend. Um, how can you experience cannon beach or abandon a different season? Because there are tons and tons of stories about those two places, but there are certainly different things to say. Maybe there’s a new program. Maybe there’s, um, some less crowded or, um, more hidden spots that people wouldn’t necessarily know about. So kind of taking those well-worn paths and, um, finding something new. That’s what we always try to do.
Jen Anderson (50:14):
Sachi Yorck (50:17):
Yeah. I would add that the wildly successful seven wonders campaign is a good example of those are very popular, very well-known now. So how do we tweak that? Um, is there, um, consumption of that? So, you know, Smith rock is very popular, so we’re maybe we’ll recommend that, uh, the scenic bikeway that gets you there. So you’re not adding the parking lot congestion or mid-week trip. Um, so there are ways of playing with those well-worn path to our advantage.
Speaker 6 (50:45):
And also I’ll just add here, um, is that, you know, the internet is always going to love wild flowers and waterfalls and sunsets, and we could travel Oregon. We could do that every single day and really blow up our metrics, but that’s really not what we’re about. Right. Where about equity in the state and diversifying traffic, like making sure people love all parts of Oregon. And so it’s about balance. It’s like, uh, bringing it back to the food pun here. Uh, it’s about a balanced meal, right? You don’t want to do the calorie high of the waterfalls and wildflowers all the time. You want to balance it out with some broccoli and giving the use of some things that you should, you ought to go check out, not just the stuff that you know about.
Sachi Yorck (51:32):
I love that analogy. Are you getting hungry now? So Jen, how, how would one get their content notice with little to no budget?
Speaker 6 (51:45):
Yeah. Uh, it just, just bring your story to our attention. Um, the more, like I mentioned, media, America serves a variety of different platforms, travel Oregon, um, and several others throughout the state. So I guess if you’re on our radar, um, there’s a good chance of it landing somewhere. That’s the best. That’s the first step.
Sachi Yorck (52:05):
Okay. And we have another question here from Allen. How does the seasonality of a business or service play a part in the ongoing promotion online or otherwise, for example, running a shuttle service during the dry slash warm season, but not year round. So the question is seasonality, um, whether that’s ongoing promotion or is it kind of limited to certain timeframes?
Speaker 6 (52:29):
Like you want to look at that from a planning perspective because, um, you know, travel planners while the planning window has shortened a little bit with COVID, um, people still plan ahead when they’re travel, especially when they go, you know, the farther distance you are planning your trip, more planning you’re doing. So I would think about those evergreen moments, right. Um, and, and because you are, um, you know, you, you still might be three months out of your season, but it’s still not a bad time to start talking about it because people do plan ahead. And like Jen said, we plan our editorial about three to six months in advance. So I’m pitching Jen because our inbox is open as always.
Sachi Yorck (53:16):
And kind of a follow-up how often should we post fresh content on our website?
Jen Anderson (53:24):
Yeah, that’s a, that’s
Speaker 6 (53:26):
A good question. I don’t know if I have a perfect answer for it. Um, and it’s not the frequency is the quality is I think what I would aim towards like the Les Schwab. Like if you go to, if you go to the Les Schwab website, it’s not like they’re posting a blog post every day about the current weather and driving conditions. It’s more about, you know, they have two really specific tools that we use, which is the, at least I use, um, which is, you know, finding tires and comparing that tire match tool. And, um, how did we get winter change zone? And so, um, I may not go to that Schwab more than once a year, but when I do go there, you know, I’m sitting there and I’m watching that video for five minutes, making sure I know how to do it so that I’m not stuck on a mountain pass, but so the focus on quality, not frequency.
Sachi Yorck (54:13):
Thanks. Thank you. All right. So we’re, we’re running short on time. So if you have any last questions, submit them now. Um, otherwise I’m going to ask you guys a fun one that I will answer as well. What is your favorite piece of travel Oregon content that you’ve helped produce in the past few years? And you could pick one just at the top of your head. The first one that comes to mind, um, I’ll start. My favorite is writing about Oregon wine because I belong to a wine club munch nor in the 12th Valley. And I just had done a lot of personal research about it. So I, I wrote a story, um, for reasons, love Oregon wine, and I just still stay so true to my heart. And it’s so meaningful to me.
Speaker 6 (54:57):
Jen Anderson (54:58):
Yeah. I really, really enjoyed, um, putting together our feature about winter birding or not winter birding, but birding for beginners because, well, um, during quarantine, I’ve sat here in my office and looked at birds all day long. And so selfishly, I really wanted to learn about the different kinds of birds out there. And so we found these just perfectly delightful, um, subjects to interview, and we produced a video with them and it really, really brought the whole concept of birding, which could seem kind of boring, but it really brought it to life. And that was one of my favorites.
Speaker 6 (55:36):
I’m going to go with a content theme. Um, I think one of my passion like personal passions is, um, going to the outdoors for health reasons. And so anytime we get you in healthcare and content, um, you know, like going to the outdoors for, you know, mental and personal wellbeing, I, those are kind of my personal favorites. And then we’ve done a few over the past few years and we had a partnership with Kaiser that was personally very rewarding and just being able to help folks to, you know, help their mental and other physical ailments just by going to the outside and kind of bridging that gap, I think was kind of my favorite. So I can’t think of a specific title, but I know we’ve done at least five to 10 pieces over the last 12 months, 15 months. That seems like the
Sachi Yorck (56:24):
Perfect place to end it. So Mo Jen, thank you so much for leading this fabulous webinar. Um, I think most at its best it’s Mo and Jen both mentioned it’s beautiful day, go outside for your mental health. Um, I’ll ask you for any closing words.
Speaker 6 (56:38):
No, thank you for joining us and, um, yeah. Send us your ideas and pitches were looking forward to working with you guys. Thanks everybody. Looking forward to my inbox, blowing up. Bye guys.