the sally sisson blog


November 7, 2017

Kicking Up the Creativity in Content Marketing

Airlines that take branded content above and beyond

Digital marketing is soaring in the airline sector, with digital, social, apps and experiential (big time) increasingly added to the mix. A bit over the top in some cases, but it’s proving to be effective as airlines crank up their creative to lure millennials and differentiate their brands in a competitive space.

As a writer, I’m more wowed by words than virtual reality, but recognize there’s value in both. I recently flew on two airlines with notable approaches, one more old-school than the other. Both were on the economy end of the scale, but both provided content-rich experiences that made the experience feel anything but.

Case Study #1: Icelandair

Two years ago I knew two people who’d been to Iceland. This year it’s 20 and counting. Thanks to a brilliant airline marketing campaign, more people than ever are visiting the Nordic island nation, not just jetting over it. Read “How Icelandair’s ‘Stopover Buddy’ Experiential Campaign Boosted Sales by 30%” if you don’t know the backstory.

I did my own mini version of that, taking a 24-hour stopover on a flight from London to Boston—just long enough to wash my cares away while drinking cold beer in a steaming geothermal hot spring at the Blue Lagoon spa, set in a lava field 10 km/6.5 miles from the airport.

So I knew the airline was riding high as a result of this experiential campaign. I just didn’t realize that content played such a prominent role in the overall branding and was pleased to see so much of it sprinkled about.

content marketing airline headrest

Bite-sized content

The first thing I notice upon boarding is the messaging on the headrests. Each cloth has a line of clever copy: snippets that entertain and inform and leave you wanting more.

Then I get to my seat and find a blanket and a pillow, each telling a different part of the bigger story. The design is clean and distinct, making my economy class seat feel more “Scandi sleek” than utilitarian.

 

Fun factoids

Mealtime brings yet more snackable content, with napkins and cups printed with factoids about volcanoes and glaciers and hot springs and other geological wonders. Most include some Icelandic [íslenska] vocabulary to pique interest and get you in practice.

While a translation for “hello, where is the bathroom?” might be useful, this STORKUR steam on my coffee cup is a lot more compelling. The messaging is doing its magic. My in-flight magazine tells tales of geysers, volcanoes and geothermal spas. I learn that Iceland is richer in hot springs and high-temperature activity than any other country in the world. That people have been bathing in these primitive volcanic pools since the days of the Vikings. I’ll be damned if I’m not one of them!

Words and more words

The one at the right shows seven different ways to say cup. At least I think that’s what it is. Or seven different terms for drinking vessel.

I won’t remember more than one, but that’s not really the point, is it?

 

credit: designweek.co.uk

Even the bathrooms are decorated with branded content.

Drip, drip, drip.

I learn something new about Iceland at each touch point. I’m genuinely eager to learn more.

@randfishkin tweet Icelandair

The customer experience

Blue Lagoon, Grindavik

My whirlwind #stopover is an exhilarating success. A bucket-list experience for the books and I return to Reykjavik airport rejuvenated and scrubbed clean with algae and minerals. I pick specs of silica out of my damp hair and stuff my backpack with brochures for my next visit.

On the plane I snuggle up in my (branded) blanket, ready to bliss out. I rest my head on my lullaby pillow and watch the “Northern Lights”—mesmerizing mood lighting beamed from the ceiling and side screens lining the cabin. This might be the closest thing to hygge I’ll ever find at 35,000 feet. A satisfying customer experience indeed.

HYGGE (pronounced “HUE-gah”) is a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.

 

Bilingual Lullaby Pillow

Bye bye and hushabye,
Can you see the swans fly?
Now half asleep in bed I lie,
Awake with half an eye.
Hey and welladay,
Over hills and far away,
That’s where the little children stray
To find the lambs at play.

– An Icelandic Lullaby

 

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March 8, 2016

Road Map for Content Writing

 

Content_Writing

A Writing GPS: The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Next Piece of Content [Infographic]

A step-by-step process? Really? Why not just wing it? Why not just… write?

Because in writing, argues Ann Handley, process is necessary. Because, as she says, you need a road map to get you to where you need to be.

Handley’s handy GPS gets you from one place to another: “from discombobulated thoughts to a coherent, cogent piece of writing.” Numbered steps prompt you to pause and think:

1. What’s your business goal?

2. How does your idea relate to your readers?

3. What credible sources and data support your idea?

4. What format would best communicate your point? (Blog post, infographic, case study?)

5. Who is your audience? (Write to one person. Period.)

Now start writing.

Write, walk away, rewrite, walk away. Write, edit, edit again.

Pass it by a co-worker or read it to your cat. Proofread. Polish. Is it ready to publish?

Call to action.

Check the 12 steps. Have you left readers hanging? What should readers do next?

Subtly prompt, nudge, guide, steer or drive in the right direction to reach the desired outcome or destination.

Now push the button and pat yourself on the back. Stretch, breathe, crack your knuckles, relax.

Before you write your next post, read Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Writing Ridiculously Good Content.

Because, as Ann says, “in today’s content-driven world, writing matters more… not less.”

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February 8, 2013

Snow Fall: An exceptional piece of interactive multimedia journalism

Interactive multimedia content

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, by John Branch

Captivating.

This is one of the most impressive interactive news stories I’ve seen. Click the picture above and experience it for yourself. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and watch the whole thing. Trust me, it’s that well done.

Behind the scenes.

It took more than 11 staffers at the New York Times more than six months to complete. One can only imagine the budget. To learn how this interactive news story was made, read this Q & A with the graphics director, multimedia producer, video journalist and editor who worked on the project:

How We Made Snowfall:
A Q & A with the New York Times team

“The New York Times’ astonishing Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, launched in the final days of 2012, capped a year of extraordinary work in interactive journalism, both at the Times and in newsrooms around the world. In the six days after Snow Fall’s launch on December 20th, 2012, it had received more than 3.5 million page views and 2.9 million visitors, nearly a third of whom were new visitors to the Times website.”

Disclaimer from an armchair reporter

I am neither an adventurous skiier, nor an adventurous sports person of any sort. But as a young girl I spent many weekends on the bunny slope at Stevens Pass, the setting of this story. I remember stories of my older brothers skiing at Seventh Heaven, as well as stories about my dad almost dying while climbing Mount Rainier.

My family moved from Seattle to Boston when I was five years old, and I spent occasional winter weekends on intermediate slopes while friends raced down black diamonds.

But I admire great storytelling and was quickly drawn in by this piece. I am excited to see what this team, and others like it, come up with next.

Best wrap-up I’ve read

The Atlantic: ‘Snow Fall’ Isn’t the Future of Journalism
Journalists will continue to find more options and build more tools to astonish us. Stuff like this will get better and better and slightly more frequent, one hopes. But it won’t become, generally speaking, frequent….

Give “Snow Fall” the respect it deserves. It doesn’t need to bear the augury of “journalism of the future.” It’s just a rare and sensational gift for readers in the present. That’s quite enough.

 

 

 

 

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