How a Florida agency owner funds The 100 through local content partnerships

This summer, Cyndee Woolley was wondering how she’d be able to repeat her success selling content partnerships in The SWFL 100 in the middle of a pandemic. Then her phone started ringing.

“It was the strangest thing,” Cyndee, the owner of C2 Communications in Ft. Myers and Naples, FL, recalled. “In one week, I got three unprompted phone calls from my annual content sponsors, asking me if it was time for them to renew their annual contracts. I was surprised at their confidence moving forward, despite the challenges of COVID-19.”

“We chose to launch The SWFL 100 as a weekly in 2018 covering Lee and Collier counties because we loved the idea of the content marketing strategy and the prospect of becoming our own publishing house,” Cyndee said. “You could see at the time, newspapers were struggling and the way the news was being reported, there was a real need for this product. We launched knowing we wouldn’t make a lot of sales the first few months, so we focused on driving solid content and then, once we started approaching people, we picked up really good content partners.”

The first thing C2 Communications did was set up meetings with the business community. Active in the local Chamber of Commerce, Cyndee and team invited owners of small businesses to breakfast meetings and afternoon receptions with different segments of the community. They handed out informational packets about The SWFL 100 and introduced The 100 Companies Founder Chris Schroder to provide an overview of the history of journalism and content marketing and how The SWFL 100 could raise the profile of their businesses.

“We didn’t sign up anyone immediately after those meetings,” Cyndee said. “But they did raise our profile and get people thinking. These are people who don’t normally get a lot of news. We provided them an opportunity to “own” a little piece of a media channel.

“I approached the Collier County Supervisor of Elections. I knew she was a young millennial looking to draw more millennials into the voting process and as soon as I mentioned content marketing and how people digest news, she was all over it,” Cyndee said.

“I then approached Hodges University – not the largest one in the market, but the third largest – and other community organizations. They asked me ‘How does this work?’ Seasoned public relations professionals quickly grasped the concept of brand awareness and it really resonated with them that people don’t have a long attention span and how they had struggled to get their own messages out. Hot news stuff comes out as hot news in the local media, but education and branding content is sometimes harder to generate local coverage about, so this was a nice tool to supplement their marketing efforts.

“I knew it might be more profitable for me to focus on regular PR work as opposed to generating content partnerships in The 100, but I found untapped potential in generating interest in The 100 not only with our existing clients, but also with new clients. In the end, we met our goal of offsetting our cost of producing The 100 with our non-client content sponsors.

“With Google Analytics and bit.ly tracking links, I also take time to share return on investment with demonstrated click throughs and show how many readers go to their websites. We generate solid engagement, so they see the value of the investment in their partnership with The SWFL 100.”

Atlanta & Alaska members make Forbes Top 200 list, New Orleans a Growth Leader Finalist

Two members of The 100 Companies were just named this week to the Forbes list of America’s Best PR Agencies. Congratulations to the teams at 360 Media, publisher of The Atlanta 100, as well as Thompson & Co. PR, publisher of The Alaska 100. Forbes and their research partners began with 5,000 nominees, eventually narrowing the winners to 200 agencies, with two of our members, led by Tara Murphy and Jennifer Thompson, among them.

Congratulations also to Tara, who was named last week to The Atlanta Business Chronicle’s list of 2020 Most Admired CEOs for her marketing acumen.

Gambel Communications, publisher of The New Orleans 100, was recently recognized as a 2020 Louisiana Growth Leader Finalist by the Louisiana Economic Development Growth Network. You can read more about this honor here for the Gambel team, including Founder Betsie Gambel and CEO Amy Boyle Collins.

Congratulations also to Betsie, who was recently honored as one of New Orleans CityBusiness’ 40 Driving Forces.

Condolences to Paul & Brenda Furiga of WordWrite, publishers of The Pittsburgh 100, for the passing of Paul’s mother, Teresa Furiga, who died last week at age 90.

Data Scientist: PR pivots from pitching media to owned media

“While traditional journalism has fallen on hard times, the most agile public relations professionals are pivoting to the new media landscape and leveraging the power of data to do so,” reports Christopher S. Penn, Chief Data Scientist for Truth Insights in his recent Business Wire report.

“First, if your brand doesn’t have its own publication of some kind,” Penn writes, “now is the time to sink considerable resources into a publication you own and control. Direct, disintermediated reach to your audience is almost priceless today, and there’s no one you need to pitch to have your stories placed. You just have to have stories and content worth reading.

“Success as a PR professional is no longer just about who you know, it’s now about what you know, too.”

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