Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
October 20, 2011

Five Ways to Make Your Content Stick

Everyone is a content creator. But, as public relations professionals it’s our job to create compelling content that stands out in the clutter and resonates with our target audiences. Consumers are exposed to thousands of messages each day, so what’s the secret to making content stick?

Creating compelling content is a theme running through the PRSA 2011 International Conference this year. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, Fleishman Hillard’s Steven Kostant and Wylie Communications’s Ann Wylie all talked about the “art” behind creating compelling content. So, whether it’s a speech, blog post, Facebook status update or pitch, here are the five things I learned by sitting down with these three content masters.

Content Sticking Power Checklist

1. Does your content tell a story?

People remember stories more than they remember statistics. Stories evoke emotion and emotion enriches the connection you have to your target audience. The more authentic the story, the more likely your readers will remember your content.

Video segment — CNN’s Soledad O’Brien discusses the importance of storytelling in her keynote presentation.

2. Does your content add value?

Ensure your story is relevant and offers a unique perspective or enhances the knowledge of your target audience. If you can’t identify what’s in it for them, then you don’t have a story to tell.

Quick tip — Copy and paste your content into Wordle, an online word cloud generator that measures the frequency of certain words, and see if the value or consumer benefits are prominent. If not, you need to tweak your copy so the real value comes through.

3. Does your content engage your audience?

Engaging content should make your audience want to learn more. Pull them in from the first sentence. Appeal to their senses by offering photos or video to visually tell your story and always give them something to react to. Invite them into the conversation by asking questions to get their perspective.

4. Can people easily find your content?

If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. Make sure your content is search friendly and can easily be found. Create a strong headline and use relevant key words and links to your advantage. However, remember you’re writing for humans, not for Google. If you focus on solving the problem of your readers, you are more likely to write searchable content.

Video segment — Ann Wylie discusses the balance between creating compelling content and searchable content.

5. Is your content flexible?

It’s important to ensure your content can easily transfer across multiple channels and devises. Also, don’t forget about offline sharing. According to Keller Fay Group, 90 percent of word of mouth happens offline.

I think we’d all agree there isn’t a universal science to “making content stick,” but if you follow this easy checklist, it should increase your chances.

How do you make sure your content has sticking power? What would you add to this list?

Ashley Walters, APR, Word-of-Mouth Marketing Manager for Empower MediaMarketing, oversees influencer marketing for clients across multiple categories and is a board member for Cincinnati’s PRSA Chapter. Contact her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Samantha Lin

    These are all very important points, but I believe using the right medium to deliver your message is also important to reach your target audiences.

  • Elizabeth Gluvna

    In this day and age, when everyone is skilled at multitasking, yet unable to read an article in its entirety, content must become personal right away in order for it to gain any attention.  As you mention, it is so important to engage readers, and I agree that well-crafted stories are the best way to do so.  Numbers and technology only matter when they are part of a larger story.  Thank you for reminding us of that.

  • Ashley

    I love this post because this is everything I learned in my Digital Newsletter class this past quarter at UCLA.  All of these notes on this checklist is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT and necessary in every aspect of writing.  More often than not, people are more visual learners so making sure your content is visually appealing is helpful and easily found on websites.  Like #1 mentions, it is easier for people to remember stories rather than statistics so if you make your story memorable and stand out, the content will stick better in the minds of others.  Engaging audience is obviously very important.  Also, maybe not the best idea to target just one audience, because it’s harder to gain more readers that way.

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  • Karen Dietz

    Hi Ashley — thanks for writing a great article with valuable tips.  The only thing I would add under bullet point #1 are storytelling elements like sensory imagery, metaphors, analogies, contrast, photos, and the like.  These help create emotional connection to the content.

    I liked your piece so much that I’ve added it to my curated content on business storytelling.  Go check it out at

  • Pingback: Five Ways to Make Your Content Stick | Stories - an experience for your audience - |

  • Pingback: Five Ways to Make Your Content Stick | digital marketing strategy |

  • Ashley Walters

    Hi Karen,

    I agree. Adding images, video, etc. can help brands emotionally connect with consumers. Thanks for sharing the post on the scoop it. I enjoyed reading your collection of articles. I think we can all learn a lot from each other.

  • Ashley Walters

    Hi Ashley,

    All great points. I’m thrilled to hear that what we are learning about at the PRSA International Conference is being taught at the college level too. Makes for better writers and PR professionals!

  • Ashley Walters

    Hi Elizabeth,

    You’re welcome. I was just telling my co-workers the same thing. We all already know this stuff. Sometimes we just need reminded. This was a great reminder for me as well!