Communicators Conference Recap: Michael Pranikoff

Create Stories That Connect

By Emily Skeen

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

– Lewis Carol, Alice in Wonderland

Creating stories that connect amidst conflicting priorities is an interesting challenge in today’s world. And it’s something Michael Pranikoff, global director of emerging media at PR Newswire, deals with on a daily basis. We can often feel like Alice in Wonderland trying to muddle our way through the vast multitude of media to get our content out in a way that will make an impact.

But at the end of the day we’re all trying to answer the same question for our customers—the question that Pranikoff stressed over and over again:

“Why should I care?”

In order to get our customers to this point, Pranikoff argues, we first have to make the content accessible. Mobile devices bring more users to more locations than ever before. Smart phones and tablets are used just as much, if not more, than computers, and content should be formatted to work smoothly across all of these platforms. And since our screens are smaller than ever, effective headlines are also more important than ever.

“If your content is a gift, then your headline is the wrapping,” said Pranikoff. He explains that, on average, for every ten people that see your headline only eight will read it, and of those eight only two will actually make it to the article. Good headlines include a number or a trigger within the first 20 characters, a keyword, an adjective and a promise. His example? “How to write headlines that are better than bacon-covered-bacon.”

After headlines, Pranikoff moved on to actual content. He urged us to “use bold to separate ideas—but don’t overdo it!” And format using bullet points when possible because they are easier to read and more likely to be read by more people.

“The easier your content is to read, the easier it is to use,” said Pranikoff.

When creating content you hope to be shared via social media or written about in publications, it’s essential that it’s usable across those platforms. Bold visuals and less copy makes content easier to digest, and therefore easier to take in. This is further supported by major publications such as the Huffington Post that require interactive graphics be included in everything they post.

According to the provided data, multimedia drives discovery. Content with text and multiple media aspects are 552 percent more effective than text-only content, and content with multi-media news releases and campaign microsites are 5092 percent more effective.

As a final caution, Pranikoff notes that not all visuals are created equal, and not all visuals are easy to use.

“I’m calling for the death of the long-scrolling infographic,” he says.

If your story is too difficult to understand, no one will try. “We must tell the story in a better way.”

For more tips and tricks from Pranikoff, follow him on Twitter @mpranikoff.