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The Editors Speak: Your Complete 9-Step Guide to MAT Release Success

Press releases are one way to get your brand’s name out there, but they aren’t the only option. Like press releases, MAT releases, or branded content, are also placed in online and print newspapers. However, they are much less commercial and allow companies to provide consumers with useful information – information that establishes you as knowledgeable, trustworthy experts in the industry.

What is branded content? Branded content is defined as a form of marketing that involves sharing different types of content that can include infographics, articles, and videos. While there are different types of branded content, they all tell a story about your brand. Unlike other forms of marketing or advertising, branded content marketing does not directly promote your products or services. Instead, it creates connections with your audience by sharing what’s at the heart of your business.

Whether you’re a small start-up or a large corporation, MAT release distribution can help your company raise brand awareness. How do you measure MAT release, or matte release, success? Online placements and audience metrics are two answers in today’s digital world. But never ignore the power of print placements. Editors vote on what’s good by publishing what catches their eye and what they know their audience craves.

So how do you create MAT releases that speak to your audience, whether that readership is in digital or traditional channels? And how do you appeal to editors, those gatekeepers of earned media placements in the print world? We turned to Brandpoint’s experienced editors for answers, and developed these hands-on guidelines for MAT release success.

[Read more: Sponsored vs Branded Content]

1. Choose relevant, valuable content topics and angles

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While MAT releases are a PR tool, they are ultimately written to provide answers, advice, solutions or guidance to consumers. Readers should find value in your content, of course, and after reading the article they should have a better understanding of the topic and answers to their questions. Create a connection between the information, the brand and the reader. It’s not an advertisement. It’s information the reader can use and is willing to share. Here’s what works best in a MAT release environment:

  • General topics that apply to a large audience.
  • Topics related to home improvement, including decorating.
  • Articles focused on saving money.
  • Article that offer ideas, tips and ways (both big and small) that readers can improve their lives.

2. Write a winning informative headline

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Your headline is the key to attracting editors (to pick up the story), and readers (to actually want to look). When editors are looking for articles to include in their newspaper, they don’t want to read your entire article to discover what it’s about. Good MAT release headlines tell editors and consumers what they will learn from your article before even reading it, increasing the chances that editors will select your mat release and that consumers will read it. Here are a couple insider tips from our editors for making your headline great:

  • Don’t overpromise. The article needs to deliver on what the reader expects to get.
  • Make it irresistible. Use intentional techniques such as surprise, a question, a number, the words “how to,” or offbeat words that engage the reader’s curiosity. Ensure you are prioritizing “What’s in it for me” or WIIFM for the reader. 

It always helps to have real-life examples. Here are some actual top-performing headlines from some of our MAT release clients, along with the number of print clips these articles produced. Healthy print clips are an endorsement for attention-grabbing headlines.

  • 6 design trends to heighten your home’s style in 2015 ( 150 clips)
  • Expert tips to make your new house feel like a home (142 clips)
  • Timeless or trendy? This year, achieve both in your home décor (135 clips)
  • 10 questions to ask before hiring your wedding photographer (130 clips)

This is such a big topic that we created an entire post on it. Check out 10 Ideas for Your Best MAT Release Headline Yet.

3. Understand your audience

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Many readers click on articles only to stop reading after the introduction. The opening paragraph of any article needs to draw readers in and make them want to keep reading. Do you have personas for your campaigns? A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of who you are trying to reach with your content and marketing messages. It’s your ideal customer. Once you know who you are aiming at, you can create your content with them – and their needs, desires and pain points – in mind.

  • Who are you targeting? Know your buyers’ persona: Gender, Age, Priorities etc. This will determine your approach, topic or angle, headline, photos and call to action.
  • Be authentic. Deliver what your audience wants in an engaging and pertinent way.

There are many ways to create engaging intros. Shocking stats, interesting stories and inviting questions can all be used to hook a reader. Sometimes, creating a compelling introduction is as simple as spelling out why your content is important and worth reading, answering the question “What’s in it for me?” for consumers. We have a great post that takes deeper dive into personas and how to build them. Check out Buyer Personas: 9 Essentials to Point You in the Right Direction.

4. Choose images that sell

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We live in a visual world. Consumers want to see pictures; that’s often what pulls them in! And editors love the idea of a free image … especially if it’s both good and relevant. Here are some important notes for getting your images right.

  • “Know and show” your intended audience in the images in realistic situations.
  • Always pair your MAT release with at least one image.
  • Take your time to search out the right image. It should evoke the appropriate mood.
  • Optimize your images for search. Here’s how: Image SEO: 5 Quick Win Secrets to Boost Traffic.
  • Avoid showing your product in the image. That’s too promotional. Editors will avoid it and consumers will see through it.

5. Cut through the clutter and noise with excellent writing and editing

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Audiences are exposed to so much poor writing these days, that they react extremely positively to material that is well-written and well-edited. MAT releases are placed in newspapers and should therefore read like news.  One way to do this is to include statistics and quotes that add credibility to your piece. Using supporting facts and quotes will give your article an objective, authoritative tone.

Brandpoint takes this job very seriously by investing in experienced journalists (they average over 12 years in news, PR, agencies and marketing) to create material for clients. We also edit like fiends!

We’ve got a super and insightful post on this topic too, in case you want to write your MAT on your own (and a number of clients do). Check out How to Write a MAT Release: A Simple Formula to Boost Placements.

6. Write a killer Call-to-Action (CTA)

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In the end, you really do want someone (the consumer) to act. How do you do that? With a CTA. Here are the secrets to creating a CTA that works in the context of a MAT release:

  • Have an objective: Tell the reader exactly what to do. Do you want the reader to buy something? Call someone? Register or sign up for something? Share content or complete a survey?
  • Be clear and concise: Use strong action verbs and get straight to the point.
  • Highlight value: If you’re directing the reader towards more information or to join an email list/community, make it sound interesting, exciting and valuable.
  • Provide a reason: Answer the question, “what’s in it for me?” Don’t just say, “Click here to…”
  • Supply pain relief: Sell the ease of action and let readers know how their lives will improve.
  • Avoid too many options: The task should be simple. An audience will lose interest if the call-to-action contains too many phrases or options.

Here’s a great CTA that asks for some action but doesn’t get too salesy, while providing something of value for the reader: Whatever you decide, Garage Living can help homeowners turn their plans into a reality. Learn more by visiting their site today.

7. Consider other formats

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Traditional-style articles work well for MATs. That’s what editors and readers are used to. But before just assuming that’s your only option, consider other formats. Would the content work better as an infographic? Would the story be told better through images such as a listicle? Also consider what other avenues can you use to ensure distribution success, such as Guaranteed Engagement.

8. Include quotes, anecdotes and examples

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Quotes can position the client as a thought-leader and also allow potentially controversial material to be put forward in a more graceful fashion. Anecdotes and examples make the content more interesting and authoritative. In the end, a MAT release needs to be good journalism for editors to pick up the article, and for consumers to believe it. Find experts (they may be your own!) and examples, and use both extensively in your article.

Here’s an example: Content is driving the car but social is fueling its engine. Or as marketing strategist and best-selling author Jay Baer more eloquently says, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.” Regardless of your metaphor choice, it’s imperative your content marketing and social media efforts align…

9. Organize and structure the content strategically

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Take time to really outline and plan out your content. It’s okay to mention your brand or product, as long as it’s subtle and naturally fits in with your content. Remember, this isn’t a commercial or press release. MAT releases are articles, and good mat releases focus on valuable content, not your brand. Here are some factors our editors use to make Brandpoint MAT release work extra hard:

  • Invite the reader into the article by using the lead to ask a question or to state a commonality. Make the reader understand why they should care.
  • If you ask a question in the lead, use the body of the article to answer it.
  • Consider putting the call-to-action in the lead paragraph (where it will be read and not edited out).
  • Weave the brand mentions deftly throughout the content so it doesn’t feel like an ad.
  • Organize by using lists, tips and subheads. These make it easily digestible for the audience.

Not to leave you hanging … we’ve got a great article to help you master this topic too. Check out 5 Elements of a Great MAT Release Article.

Conclusion

There you have it. Some of our best recommendations for MAT release success with both editors (to run your content) and readers (to consume your content). Put the ideas in this guide to work on your next MAT release and watch it go to work. Learn how to take your written MAT release and create a successful branded content campaign!

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