A brand’s relationship with customers, potential buyers and influencers extends far beyond what customers read about a company in the news. Brands can be their own journalists, writers of their own stories, and publishers of their own topics and subjects on their blog, social channels and contributed content pieces.
While we live in a world where fake news is often a concern, what this means for marketers and PR professionals is that anyone with a strong voice and a clear strategy has the power to shape perception, and they don’t need third party validation. Traditional PR practices are not yet dead, from my point of view, but they need to morph and become more digital, to meet today’s digital native user.
Here are a few ways to do that:
Build greater integration among channels (paid, owned, earned, social)
The ways in which the “public” consume messages about brands is always changing. They are googling, reading reviews and blogs, talking and interacting on Twitter or Instagram, and listening to other favorite influencers or brands. Many make a judgement call on a product based on a brand’s blog, frequency of newsletters, website usability, digital ad tagline, how high the company ranks in Google, and what their favorite influencers and news outlets are saying about them. The point is, brands shape and influence public opinion through a variety of ways. We we think about the core audiences we’re trying to reach - customers and the community, journalists, bloggers, product reviewers, and even colleagues and partners - each of these audiences have their own digital presence and preferred touch points. As PR and communications professionals, it’s vital we have an influence on each of their touch points and ensure the messages are consistent, relevant and personalized, and that PR campaigns are integrated to tell a cohesive, impactful story that compels audiences to take action.
Look beyond press coverage
I have worked with many teams, and when I tell them I manage PR, most think that stands for press release. Before digital touchpoints, blogs and social media, the press release was the only way the public would receive news from companies. It’s the only way brands could control the message and tell it the right way. Today, much of this has shifted. It is not uncommon to see brands like Google or Apple announce news in a blog or via the CEOs LinkedIn post.
While there is still value and importance to having a single place where company news resides, PR pros must look beyond the traditional press release, and even beyond press coverage as the ultimate goal, and think about what other channels exist and what other ways to measure PR campaigns. For example, social shares, comments or likes by key social influencers or bloggers, number of downloads from a particular piece of content, or engagements from a piece of news in the community, through customers and partners.
To start in the right direction, re-think PR goals and make sure they aren’t solely focused on driving press coverage. Think about how messages are being received and engaged by a variety of audiences, through their own digital channels. I am a big fan of visuals, and I often create a pie chart of the audiences. Once these goals are set, let them drive the content, tactics and KPIs.
Rethink traditional practices
Brands can shape the perception of their influencers without the help of a journalist, and it’s important for PR and communications professionals to constantly re-evaluate their strategies. A great way to rethink traditional PR practices is in the post mortem. In addition to analyzing the effectiveness of a campaign, communications teams must also think outside the box, stay educated with how other brands are driving perception change and seek to understand how advancements in technology will influence traditional communications and PR practices. Bulldog reporter and PR News are two great outlets that cover PR trends and best practices. You can also follow well-known corporate brands. Some of my favorite brands to follow are Adobe, IBM and Mailchimp.
Want to re-think your next PR campaign? Let us know, we love brainstorming.