As with so many other areas, corporate communications/public relations has been transformed by digital.
Gone are the days when the field mainly involved crafting press releases for journalists. Today,
it’s possible – and necessary – to connect with audiences directly.
A firm that has fully embraced this shift is Nissan North America.
The automaker has been excelling in developing content pieces that smartly use digital platforms to capture the attention of both consumers and the media.
Recently we chatted with William Mattiace, Content and Editorial Communications Manager, Nissan North America, to learn more about how the company approaches content strategy
and content creation.
Check out the full Q&A below:
Q: What is your role with Nissan?
A: I have been in this job since May 8, so I’m relatively new. I was with Ford Motor Company for about five years before starting my role with Nissan here in the U.S.
I work mostly on the earned media side, on the public relations/communications team. Any piece of content – a news release or photo or infographic – goes through our team. We make sure that it passes the litmus tests of: Is this it interesting to people? Will they be engaged?
It’s hard for brands to speak like humans most of the time. That’s the team’s goal: to ensure that we sound relatable and say something interesting.
My job often intersects with the paid marketing side. We want to have one voice, one story, and one message. No matter where a customer potential customer happens to run into Nissan content, we want things to be consistent and to ensure than an engaging story is being told.
Q: Why are you creating digital content? What are the goals?
A: If you’re not creating digital content these days, you’re probably not going to be selling much or be on top-of-mind for consumers.
I think it’s strange when companies have a digital department versus a traditional department, because it’s all so digital these days.
If you’re not doing digital content then you’re not you’re not reaching your customers and you’re not telling the story of your brand. Today everyone’s mobile phones live in the palms of their hands; they’re constantly swiping and flicking and paging through.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a glimpse of their attention. So, the more you have out there that’s digital the better your chances of being seen.
In this chaotic media environment we’re all competing for a second or two seconds of someone’s attention.
Q: What’s the team like and what sorts of pieces are you creating?
A: We are essentially a former TV news crew, but our medium is no longer a television. It’s now a phone or a tablet or a computer.
We still do traditional public relations – such as press releases – but our mission is to also to get the consumer’s attention. That’s new for communication and public relations people. We have not able to communicate directly with the consumer this easily in the past.
But now we are creating tweets, we are creating GIFs, we are creating infographics, that we
know are going to be going to be seen directly by the consumer.
When we tweet out something for Nissan about a piece of news it links directly back to our media site, which in the past was just for media. Now we’re seeing a tremendous amount
of consumer traffic on NissanNews.com. It’s a great reminder that those press releases, although traditional, must be written in consumer language. They must be something that people can understand and they must be memorable and be interesting.
Q: Which metrics do you play close attention to? How do you measure whether or not you are capturing consumers’ attention?
A: I often get in trouble with our friends on the social media team because impressions always crack me up. I don’t think impressions is the most important metric to consider – but I’m also not sure what is.
I really encourage the team to measure engagement. We try to look at things like comments and sentiment. And if people ask questions I think that’s a tremendously powerful way to measure if something was successful. Because if people are asking questions then they’re paying attention and you’ve captured their imagination a little bit.
We also look a lot a who shares pieces, where they were shared, and when they were shared. Of course on the PR side we still count clips and coverage, but even on those stories we’re now looking at how much they’re shared and commented on. It’s a whole new level of engagement compared with the past.
Q: Do you have a few favorite pieces of Nissan content? What exemplifies what you do well?
A: One of my favorite pieces is a pretty new one.
We had the solar eclipse this summer and down here in Tennessee – where our headquarters is —– was in the path of totality. So, in nearby Nashville we had an artist make the largest lawn art ever created. And team members stood in it during the eclipse.
It’s a cool feature and to showcase it we created a video where we had of one of our employees act as a mom who left something in the backseat. It was a very visual way to tell the story.
A: One thing that I’m keeping an eye on is how to reach that coveted Millennial audience. That doesn’t necessarily mean new digital platforms are going to come out, but more knowing what’s popular and resonating on each of the existing platforms.
For example, everyone loves the filters and Snapchat. So, how does a brand leverage those?
Everyone loves the stories on Instagram. How does a brand use those and make the most of the swiping up and down and left and right?
We just announced that we’re one of the first brands to work with Facebook on their Camera Effects feature. With our Die Hard Fan App college football fans can now take a photo and add a face-paint, augmented reality filter to show their support.
It’s an example of how we’re striving to use what’s up-and-coming on these platforms. We want to engage our customers where they are and in the ways they are using technology