PR and Marketing Trends: What the Changing Media Landscape Means for Brands

The changing media landscape will continue to shift. As technology increases the speed of communications (you can’t really get any faster than real time without mind reading…), the way brands interact with the media also changes. While some of us prefer to hold a paper copy of our favorite magazine or daily newspaper in our hands, like it or not, the world has gone digital and many traditional media outlets are feeling the squeeze. Print publications are shutting down operations and media outlets are pushing resources into building digital versions of the news to not only keep up with consumer behavior, but also to keep up with the news cycle.

Enter social media. We don’t wait to hear breaking news on a news broadcast at a specific time, or in the newspaper the next morning when the “big story” breaks. Instead, stories are breaking on social media as they happen and reporters and editors are scrambling to be a part of the news rather than falling behind.

Media outlets consisted of traditional TV, radio, and print, but now it has expanded to include many more digital channels where influencers are the mouthpiece rather than well-known reporters and reputable news names.

The age of social media has allowed a new era of media where creators and influencers have achieved online celebrity status by amassing a network of followers who trust what they have to say. This network tunes in to watch videos and read blogs on a regular basis to get the latest news on a variety of topics whether lifestyle-related, business-related, etc. It’s a new world of heavily opinionated and sometimes owned content in a world where your target audience has instant access to information.

Change can be difficult, but in this case, it’s a huge opportunity for brands. Here are five ways brands can benefit from the shift in the media landscape.

Greater Content Control

New digital channels mean that brands themselves can become influencers within their industry and target audience. A business owner can become a thought leader by developing a great blog, or a brand can have a viral social media profile, it just takes a littler work. There are great opportunities to publish branded content (both paid and non-paid), so the focus can be put on a targeted content strategy rather than hoping that a media outlet will pick up the story – fingers crossed the messaging is clear when it’s published!

Alternatively, brands can work directly with influencers on a one-on-one basis to develop unique exclusives that will resonate with their target audience. There is a more involved creative process when putting together a successful influencer strategy. This also allows for highly targeted individual pitches to media and influencers. The emphasis is on quality, not quantity.

Direct Connection to Target Audiences

Brands can either connect directly with audiences through their own branded channels or through influencers with an already-established reach. Building trust through direct relationships is important when it comes to establishing a brand following. If you can work with an influencer who has already built that trust through authentic communication, then you can leverage that.

More Video

Whenever I work with clients on media strategies, television is always the ultimate goal. However, the reality is EVERYONE is looking for coverage on the news and daytime lifestyle shows. The way the media landscape is configured now, brands have the opportunity to connect through video both through their own branded channels as well as via influencers. Having a visual library to pull from also attracts attention from producers in certain media circles. Remember that you should develop a content strategy that includes both written and visual content. Print media, even in digital form isn’t going anywhere just yet.

More Spontaneous and Live Connection

Social media is constantly evolving, and the accessibility of live streaming options like Periscope, Facebook Live, Snapchat Live, Blab, and many more means that brands and influencers can connect with their audiences in real time. You don’t have to be on all channels, but you should consider channels that make sense for your brand. And if you’re not at the very least Tweeting live from your events, you should really get on that…

Social Media Is More Important

As more information goes out on social media, the media pulls story ideas from there. 80% of journalists research their stories on social media. If you can manage to build a bit of buzz on your social channels about your brand, then they may pick up the story. You are creating your own valuable public relations opportunities.

Change doesn’t have to be scary. Media relations has changed significantly in the past decade because of the changing media landscape and it will continue to change as the world goes even further down the digital rabbit hole. It’s best to embrace it rather than fight it.

 

 

This was originally posted to this site on May 22, 2016. We repost articles that our readers may have missed the first time around. It was written by Candace Huntly for the SongBird Marketing Blog and Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Which PR Metrics Will Give You The Best Indicator Of Brand Reputation?

The modern PR professional has access to numerous online measurement tools, all of which provide important insights about your brand’s reputation and prove value. However, to effectively quantify your PR efforts you need to look closely at how well you are getting your message across by measuring whether your coverage references your key messages, the quality of the media presenting your information, the way it’s perceived and how this meets your PR objectives.

These four metrics will provide important insights into your audience, how they perceive your brand, when and where they receive their information, and will strengthen your relationship not only with the media but also your clients.

Key messages and topic penetration

Your key messages should align with what your business or client is aiming to communicate with their audience. While any positive coverage in the media is valuable, it’s vital your key messages come across the way you want them to, so your audience receives a coherent message across multiple platforms. Also, if your key messages are highlighted in the media, you’ll have tangible results to show your PR efforts are generating valuable discussions.

Source quality

When you’re measuring media coverage, it’s better to focus on quality over quantity because not all mentions will result in a positive contribution to your campaign. It’s about being published in the media outlets that matter to you. For example, reaching ten raving fans will be more valuable than targeting fifty members of the public with no direct interest in your product, brand or client. We recommend you segment your preferred media outlets into tier 1, 2 and 3 (in order of relevance and potential target audience reach) to help prioritise when and where you send your press releases and statements.

Sentiment

Sentiment analysis identifies and categorises the way in which your client or brand is expressed in the media. Fundamentally, you want to look at tone – is it positive, negative or neutral? Depending on your PR objectives, you want to ensure the positive or neutral tone articles outweigh the negative ones.

Share of voice

Share of voice is your media performance/coverage in relation to your nearest competitors and can be used to measure the strength of your client or company’s media presence. It can be measured in terms of reach, size of audience, relevance of audience or overall volume of coverage. Knowing your share of voice outlines where your opportunities and threats lie, and helps you plan for future PR campaigns.

You want to utilise these four metrics on a daily basis to sustain your PR efforts and achieve your objectives – ultimately reinforcing the value of your PR planning and activity.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn, and was written by Mimrah Mahmood. For more of these insights, please connect with Mimrah on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mimrah

 

mimrah-mahmood

About the Speaker:  As the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Media Solutions at Meltwater, Mimrah Mahmood help organisations across the Asia-Pacific break down media data (social, print and other media) and make business decisions from insights; create a framework to progressively and scientifically track efforts in PR and marketing; build a road-map to improve your communication plan; and identify opportunities and threats that arise from competitors. As a leader within a multi-award winning company, Mimrah is proud to be advocating better measurement practices in PR, Brand and Strategic Communications for many of the largest MNCs in Asia-Pacific.

Owned Content: How to Harness the Power of the Content You Create

Owned content, also known as owned media, is just one part of the puzzle in your PR strategy. An effective strategy also includes earned, shared, and paid media. This post will address how you can most effectively use the content you publish and own to move your brand ahead.

The beautiful thing about owned media is that it puts you in the driver’s seat of your strategy. Is there a particular question that your sales team receives? No problem. Create a blog post that addresses that question. Is there some industry expertise that you want to share? Create an eBook and use that to inspire confidence in your brand.

What is Owned Content?

Content that you own is the content that you create and continue to own throughout its lifetime. This includes your website and every piece of content that you post on your it. For example, this type of content could include:

  • Blog posts
  • SlideShares
  • Infographics
  • Visual content
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Website pages
  • Ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Case studies

And the list goes on. There are many other creative possibilities for content creation. This is because owned media is a vital part of anybody’s overall strategy!

Blog posts are some of the best pieces of owned content that you can create. In fact, one study shows that B2B companies who only blog 11 or more times per month receive almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies who blog 0-4 times per month.

One of the best things about owned media is that it never expires. Use it as much as you want, transform it from one media to another (go ahead, turn that blog post into an infographic, or multiple blog posts into an Ebook), and even update it. Your content is yours for as long as it exists.

Done correctly, this content is more than personally published and owned media. It can strategically direct your audience down your funnel and toward an end-goal, such as a purchase decision.

One of the best things about owned media is that it never expires

Let’s look at the most effective ways you can use your owned media to reach your business goals.

10 Sure-Fire Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Owned Content

1. Create a Documented Content Strategy

Heard this one before? While it may sound like a broken record, we still felt the need to include this one—after all, studies show that only 37% of B2B companies have a documented strategy.

A documented content strategy keeps your content creation on track. A strategy helps you to visualize what content assets you have, what you need to create, and how to strategically use your content to its fullest potential. Schedule such details as content creation, publication, and shares on social media.

A strategy without goals is like an empty bag—it will just fall flat. So, create goals for your content, such as increased website traffic or thought leadership. Write down these goals, make sure that your entire team knows what your goals are, and create ways to measure your progress toward these goals.

2. Create Visual Content

Don’t underestimate the value that visuals can bring to your content. Images have an incredible influence on engagement levels. In fact, researchers in one study found that colored visuals increased people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.

Create content that is visual by nature, such as infographics and SlideShares. Even in non-visual content, such as blog posts and ebooks, include visual graphics that enhance your content.

Use a free visual content creation tool such as Canva to create flawless graphics for your audience. Choose from pre-formatted sizes that make it easy to share on any social network, and use their endless supply of stock photos, elements, and text to enhance your graphic.

Video content is rapidly growing in popularity across all audiences. In fact, when it comes to products, customers reported that they were 4 times more likely to watch a video than read an article, so play on that! Create videos on industry tips and tricks, popular issues that your audience faces, as well as your products and how to use them.

3. Share on Social Media

Social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are a great way to reach your audience and direct them back to your website.

The problem that many companies run into is the short life that content has on social media. For example, most content reaches the majority of its audience on Twitter within 3 hours, and on Facebook within 5 hours.

How do you compensate for such a short social media shelf-life? Share your content on your social media networks multiple times. Find out when your audience often takes to social media—what days and times—and post your content during those times.

4. Include in Your Email Marketing Campaigns

According to one study, three-quarters of companies view email as either “good” or “excellent” in terms of ROI. Promoting your content in your email campaigns can increase your content’s visibility.

You could send out emails with the specific goal of highlighting your created content. You could also include a few pieces of content to include at the bottom of your other email campaigns. Whatever way you choose to do this, emails are a great way to introduce your audience to new content.

5. Aim for Thought Leadership

Thought leaders are authorities in their industry—ones who audiences look to for insights and opinions on industry matters. Owned media and thought leadership go hand in hand. Content, such as a website, gives you a platform to showcase your industry expertise and build a reputation for thought leadership.

There are various ways to establish thought leadership. First of all, be helpful—answer the questions that trouble your audience. Be the first to provide insightful solutions to the problems that your audience faces.

Be genuine and human. Create content that has a voice and draws people into a written conversation. People follow and admire leaders who are authentic, so make sure your writing conveys the real you.

Owned media and thought leadership go hand in hand

6. Showcase User-Generated Content

Encourage your customers to engage with your brand. Create contests with incentives that get your customers to share their stories and even photos of how they use your product or service. Once you have this, it becomes valuable owned media with the power to draw in your audience.

Show your audience how past customers are using and loving your product to make their work easier. This kind of word-of-mouth content gives a nod of approval to your brand from third parties, which is just the kind of recommendation that audiences want.

7. Amplify Peer Content

Create content that draws attention to your peers—other experts in your industry that create amazing content. This builds valuable relationships within your industry—relationships that you can rely on in the future.

Exactly how can you do this? Write a roundup post that links to key content from your peers on a certain subject—consider this one we did on calls to action. Interview fellow experts within your industry, and use those quotes to enhance your content.

This kind of owned media will attract their audience in addition to your own.

8. Address Your Entire Funnel

Many brands make the mistake of focusing too heavily in one area of their funnel — either in the beginning of the buyer’s journey, or more in-depth content that addresses the end of the buyer’s journey.

Instead, try to balance your content creation on all three parts of your funnel—from the initial curiosity of an audience, down to when they’re ready to buy.

Write blog posts that address preliminary questions or problems that your audience has. Consult with your sales team to see what problems potential customers face, and then create content that addresses each one. This could be blog posts, infographics, or videos.

But don’t forget to create content for the bottom part of your funnel. This could include Ebooks, white papers, and case studies that go in-depth into problems and provide proof of industry expertise. This kind of content convinces those readers who are on the verge of a purchase decision that you are the brand to trust.

9. Be Consistent

Consistency is a key component of effective content creation—if your audience gets bored waiting by their inbox, you might run the risk of their moving on to another brand’s content.

Create a regular schedule of content publication within your content strategy. As we mentioned before, companies find the most success in posting 11 or more times per month, so start scheduling content publication around twice a week to hit that goal.

10. Go Out with a Strategic Call to Action

Content without a call to action is a dead-end for your strategy. Make sure your audience knows how to take the next step from passive reader to an engaged follower.

Use language within your calls to action that motivates your audience and creates a feeling of anticipation. For example, Last Chance! Download Your Free Copy creates a sense of urgency, and Sign Up for Our Free Email Newsletter conveys the value behind the offer.

Everything from language to size to color matters when you create a call to action. So research the best ways to create calls to action, and see the powerful results you can get.

Key Points to Remember…

  • Attract your audience with visual content such as graphics, videos, and infographics
  • Address every stage of your funnel within your content
  • Share your content at various intervals on social media to get traffic back to your website
  • Use motivational calls to action to wrap up your content and show your audience their next step

Start planning today on how you can incorporate owned content into your overall PR strategy.

 

This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog, it is written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Ways to Maximize Digital PR

Public Relations has changed dramatically over the past decade. It has grown and matured as an industry, yes. But the most striking moves have come in how we work. The changes have been less disruptive than those in advertising, but the rise of digital and social media has given way to a new world of digital PR. And the rules and tools have changed accordingly.

So, what’s different, and how can we take advantage of the changes? The goals of a typical digital PR program are similar to those of traditional PR with distinct tools and targets. We still prize earned media stories and we work to create branded content. But the most frequent targets are digital media outlets with high domain authority―top outlets like Refinery 29 or Business Insider. We push for links to a company or product website as a matter of routine.

Content has changed, too. In fact, the unofficial birth of digital PR was probably in late 2011 or early 2012, when Google changed its algorithms. The original Panda and Penguin updates favored quality content and penalized black-hat SEO techniques that had propelled dubious websites to page one of the search listings. Later updates defined non-linking citations as implied links, meaning that brand mentions in digital media worked nearly as hard as links, rewarding good PR work with higher search rankings. And for many brands, search rankings were the name of the game.

Gradually, PR morphed from delivering “earned media” to something PR Council president Chris Graves calls “earned influence.” To my way of thinking, this means a broader range of both tools and outcomes, from straight-up publicity coverage to paid third-party endorsement, and everything in between.

Seven Impacts of Digital PR

What impact has the new digital PR had on those of us in the business, and how do we leverage opportunities?

Mastering New Tools

Instead of press releases and a giant Rolodex, it makes more sense to break a story through Facebook Live, or possibly a tweet with a link to a microsite with details of the story. Instead of a full-blown press conference (where breaking news could derail plans and quash media attendance), it’s smarter to share news through an exclusive arrangement with a single digital journalist. The old ways and tools still apply, and access to media and influencers is still vital. But where we once used a blunt instrument, we now have more refined ways of getting the job done.

Building New Skills

Digital PR practitioners today need a newer and more varied skill set to take advantage of opportunities and maximize outcomes. Content used to mean good journalistic writing, a well-researched white paper or op-ed … or maybe a sassy blog post. Today it’s about digital storytelling techniques where visual impact may be more important than persuasive writing. And any PR person who doesn’t understand analytics, or at least the basics of SEO, will find themselves working at a serious disadvantage.

Embracing a New Content Model

Digital PR has ushered in a whole new way of thinking about content. For years we focused primarily on earned media, which still has a hallowed place as an outcome of good PR. Then social media blurred the lines between paid and earned media, and “owned” or branded content expanded as companies and their agencies ramped up blogging and thought leadership content that lives on a branded website. Most PR agencies have adopted the PESO model, for Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned content that works together to drive search visibility, brand awareness, and the all-important customer engagement.

Making New Partnerships Work

Anyone who grew up working at a major PR firm has partnered with ad agencies. There was also the occasional sales promotion tie-in, or maybe coordination with a direct-marketing campaign or consultant. Crisis experts routinely work with law firms. But today’s PR people may partner with teams expert in digital marketing, SEO, email marketing, content marketing, and more. That opens up a new world of “co-opetition” where we might be indirect competitors for the same budget yet must work as a team for the sake of maximizing outcomes.

Collaborating with Digital Influencers

Aside from content overall, nothing has changed PR more than the rise of the digital influencer. What we’re seeing here is a move from celebrities to less-known figures who can offer authentic engagement without breaking the bank. Lately, many brands and agencies have turned to micro-influencer programs that collaborate with personalities who have fewer than 100,000 followers (primarily on Instagram) but who ideally offer a less commercial and more meaningful relationship with fans and followers. Although micro-influencer programs have their detractors, they are popular because they’re designed for visual platforms and are more easily scalable at nearly any budget.

Adopting a Customer Focus

Tools and skills are part of the picture, but real success in the digital era requires nothing short of a mindset shift for most “traditional” PR professionals. In the past, the creative efforts of PR practitioners were directed toward journalists. As bloggers grew, the influencer economy took off, but we were still working to generate branded messages and stories through the filter of the writer. More recently, PRs are charged with developing “viral” content that engages consumers directly. This requires new storytelling skills and represents an enormous mindset shift and has required new talent.

Committing to Outcomes as well as Outputs

Today, everything is measurable and measured. PR floated for too long in a kind of netherworld―we urged clients to take it on faith that earned media would move the needle or we promised brand reach as measured in impressions … but very little beyond. Today, the good news is that there are easier methods and a new mindset for evaluating PR outcomes. And with that data, we can maximize our digital PR strategy. Our focus as professionals can then be on quantifiable changes in SEO, web traffic, brand engagement, and ultimately on the one metric that’s familiar to any marketer―improving business outcomes.

This article originally appeared in MENG Blend, it was written by Dorothy Crenshaw from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Engage with Journalists on Social Media

Ten years ago, before media databases and Google-able phone numbers, the hardest task of any PR campaign was tracking down journalists’ contact details. Whether you had access to the infamous News Media Yellow Book or tried to MacGyver your way to a phone number, it was both a time-consuming and headache-inducing process.

Now, the tricky part isn’t tracking down journalists’ latest newsroom extensions. It’s figuring out when and how to engage with them in a way that’s professional, effective and personalized to each one—especially when it comes to social media.

If you’re still wrapping your head around how to interact with journalists online, here are three questions to help guide an outreach strategy and bullet points to help you engage with journalists on social media.

1. Who is using social media?

First, pull out your trusty (and most updated!) media list and, line-by-line, figure out who of your top journalists are using social media and which platforms they’re using. (P.S.: Meltwater’s database search function makes this a breeze.)

2. Are they using social media regularly?

For those that are using social media, are they posting daily? Several times a week? If so, you’re in business. If not, stick to email. You don’t want to risk your messages being overlooked because they simply aren’t seeing them.

3. How do they interact with PR professionals and/or brands (if at all)?

This might take a little digging into their feed, but here’s what you want to get a feel for: Are they asking for sources or quotes on their platforms? Are they responding to pitches directly? Are they interacting regularly with PR people and brands? Are they telling those people to direct message them or are they having public conversations? Or are they simply linking to their own stories and not engaging at all?

This will help shape how you approach engaging with each journalist on their most active platform—whether you’re casually nurturing a relationship through sharing and commenting on their content or plan to use Facebook or Twitter as your primary pitching platform.

Once you’ve got your short-list, here are our top do’s and don’ts for engaging with journalists on social media:

DO

  • Reach out through a personal account. Just like you prefer interacting with humans—instead of generic email addresses and branded Twitter accounts—so do journalists. It’s also easier to nurture an ongoing relationship when they can put a face to a name.

  • Still include a hook! In the same way that you’d look for a compelling hook when sending an email, you want to give the same thoughtfulness to your tweet, Facebook post or Instagram DM. Have something interesting to say about something they just posted? That’s a great place to start.

  • Ask for their outreach preferences. When they respond, direct message them and ask “I contacted you on Twitter; is that the best place to reach out to you?” That’ll help you figure out your most direct line to them moving forward.

DON’T

  • Stalk. Meaning, it’s not necessary to like every tweet, photo, or post. Rule of thumb: If it would creep you out, it’ll likely creep them out too.

  • Join online journalist communities and/or events in the hopes of pitching your stuff. It’s absolutely fine (and encouraged!) to tune into a journalist-focused event (like the weekly #wjchat Twitter chat) to better understand them, how they work and what they’re paying attention to. But don’t show up and try to pitch your latest product or arrange for a coffee. It’ll feel inappropriate and out of context—and do way more harm than good.

  • Go straight for the pitch. Unless it’s a crisis and you need to get in touch with them ASAP, follow them, say hello, and like and share the content you find most compelling and relevant before you start asking them to write stories about you. (If you were on the other side of that screen, you’d want them to do the same).

Wondering where to start?

Check out the mastheads of media outlets that you like, make note of the writers. When you find yourself enjoying an article, make a note of the byline. Check out other articles that the journalists you like may have penned and which other outlets they’re writing for. Look for them on Twitter and start following them. After a few rounds of this, you’ll amass a list of journalists that you’re tracking. If you want to quickly expand that list, use a media database.

Infographic: Morning Routines of the PR Pro

How we start our days often informs how effective we are at work. That’s why we decided to benchmark the morning routines of three PR personas. Maybe you’ll see yourself in the brand of coffee most discussed on social media or the types of breakfast, workout, and mode of transport that dominate social sharing during morning hours.

We used our Meltwater social listening tools, to look at a variety of morning activities and what’s generating the most buzz in each. Are you surprised that steel cut oats dominate the breakfast category? While we aren’t quite saying that steel cut oats have taken over the breakfast market, the data shows that people sure do like to talk about them on social media. Same goes for morning workouts. While going to the gym is undoubtedly still a classic, looking at social media, we’ve got to wonder if tweeting about Crossfit, in particular, is a contractual obligation for those who sign up.

Behind the scenes, we benchmarked a wide range of options for each category, including (but not limited to) branded fast food morning sandwiches, exercise classes (Yoga and SoulCycle), ride-sharing services (Uber and Lyft), and coffee brands (although we ended up excluding Blue Bottle as news had just broken that they were bought by Nestle, and buzz about the acquisition skewed our results). We also used Itunes Charts to find the 10 most popular podcasts during our week of social listening and benchmarked them against each other to narrow the field to three, and then further benchmarked those.

Keeping the parameters of our methodology in mind, we hope you enjoy following along as our PR pros—the CMO, the PR manager, and the PR intern—start their day.

PR Pro

And—as always—if you’re interested in seeing how you can do something similar with your brand and industry, we can help.

Lessons in PR Measurement: 4 Ways to Keep Up with New Trends

One of the most important relationships in PR is the cooperative one between public relations and journalism. That’s why most introduction to public relations courses includes an overview of media pitching and press releases. As part of a PR curriculum, students take a media relations course and often have the option of journalism electives.

Internships often reinforce these competencies. Many PR students start off in internships that involve media list compiling, entry-level pitching strategies, and rudimentary media relations. And though students are able to come away from those experiences and explain the impact of their work, they might not understand how to showcase their value.

Many PR veterans find themselves in similar situations as they look to keep up with the ways PR is measured. Even the most adept at pitching and placing coverage might be surprised as to how the industry has evolved in proving the ROI of this key activity. While some in PR still advocate for AVE, we need to move away from simply thinking that press clippings or advertising value equivalents as an effective way to see media placement. With today’s environment, media monitoring and measurement have become highly sophisticated.

It is no longer only about knowing what journalists are writing and when the coverage is published but now extends to tracking influencer reach in social media and understanding the sentiment of the audience that engages with and amplifies a story. As we see in more and more thought pieces regarding the PR industry, there are new and numerous metrics that can be used to evaluate media relations efforts.

Here are practical ways to illustrate the value of media placements:

Read Case Studies

Look for case studies that highlight the impact of a media relations campaigns. PR pros (and students alike) can learn from peers facing similar challenges in measuring their efforts and using data to optimize them. Real-world case study examples that are industry-specific can illuminate ways PR colleagues have used media monitoring to assist them in illustrating value.

Attend Professional Lectures

One of the best ways to help keep up with what others in the industry are doing with their media relations process is to see PR pros speak on the topic. Professionals who are willing to share about a media relations campaign, their PR measurement tools, while giving behind-the-scenes tips and strategies, can inspire both newcomers and veterans looking to understand new trends. Meetups, PRSA, Creative Mornings, and other niche communities offer an opportunity to hear professionals speak about their process. PRSA has local chapters that meet monthly and an annual event that draws PR pros from all stages of career development and industries.

Sign Up for Platform Training

Once you know the of their impact of media relations efforts, the next step is figuring out how to do it with integrity. Hosting a training on ways that media efforts may be evaluated can cover this. Remember to discuss historic approaches like AVE, and also explore the tools that enhance analytic efforts today. Depending on what tools you have available; practicing monitoring media placements, evaluating reach and sentiment, or even creating professional reports can incorporate modern PR metrics that the C-suite would approve of.

Put Ideas into Practice

Of course, for those already working in PR, nothing can beat the experience of working on a client’s media relations campaign to see the full cycle of strategizing, planning, pitching, carrying out, and evaluating the impact of a campaign.

When you’re in the planning process, make sure that you know what KPIs you’ll track and what counts as success. Going over what metrics you will measure and having the process in place before you begin the campaign can ensure you have the information you need.

Before tracking your impact, specify the level of evaluation, length, and depth you want in your final campaign report. Consider having at least one review meeting with stakeholders to make sure the data you’re tracking and metrics you’re compiling are the ones that are important. This allows time to revise and really gather the most relevant data before you’re in the midst of carrying out the campaign.

As PR moves to data-based KPIs, understanding how to evaluate metrics for media relations takes time. It is more than an after-thought when you complete a campaign, it should be woven into all PR strategy from the get-go. In doing so, we are modeling for colleagues and PR students that PR holds high standards. We are accountable to report on our initiatives. This gives us the opportunity to showcase the role of public relations, the value it brings to an organization, and the impact of the work done. Knowing the value of data-based PR campaign reporting is a foundation that should underpin all future communication campaigns. And, it prepares us to be PR leaders wherever we are in our career trajectory.

 

Ultimate Guide to B2B Social Media Marketing in 2017

Social media has entirely reshaped the way the world communicates. Instead of relying on celebrities, large news corporations and the television for world news and information, people are able to freely share, communicate and engage amongst themselves. And B2B social media marketing is part of that.

We’ve already seen huge success amongst B2C marketers, with brands consolidating a name for themselves in their target audience. However, B2B social media marketing can feel a lot more difficult to get right. When you’re targeting other businesses, negotiating a world of engagement, followers and likes can feel impossible.

Sure — B2B social media marketing does differ to marketing directly to consumers, but it nevertheless can be an extremely effective tool for your business. Effective social media marketing for B2B companies can:

  • Establish your company as an authority
  • Grow a dedicated, engage audience (remember, those companies you are targeting are made up of real people)
  • Drive traffic and conversions.

Getting Started With B2B Social Media Marketing

First things first: you need to get onto the right social networks.

The rule of thumb here is to find a balance between establishing your business on more than one platform, but not spreading yourself so thin that you can’t really focus.

While LinkedIn remains the most popular platform for B2B marketers according to Content Marketing’s 2016 statistics, it is by no means the only platform you should be using.

B2B companies are consistently showing the impact they can have on a range of social media platforms provided they’re sharing content that resonates with their audience. A great example here is Novartis, a pharmaceutical company that has generated a large following on Instagram by sharing posts on the humane side of their work. It’s creating a genuine connection with its audience that has massively boosted the relatability of the brand.



To establish the best platforms for your company to use, take a look at your competitors’ social media accounts. As you’re in the same industry, what works for them is often what will also work for you. If you see that your competitors have managed to grow a huge audience via YouTube or Twitter, these platforms may be the best places for you to target first, because you know there’s an interested audience waiting.

Your Profiles

Your profile needs to instantly reflect your company’s brand on every social media network, and needs to be immediately recognizable.

That means using the same profile picture — ideally your logo — across all platforms, and using a consistent tone of voice. Remember: social media is where businesses can show their less corporate side, and provide content users can relate to. Keep your profile descriptions professional, but remember you’re writing to connect with people, not to sell them your CV.

Know Your Audience

Your profiles need to be created with your target audience in mind. By this point, your company should know its values, mission statement, and the type of customers it wants to attract.

Build your profile around this aim. If you are going for a target audience of, for example, entrepreneurial-minded men in their 30s and 40s, build profiles that are designed to entice people from this pool.

Tracking

Most social media platforms provide the option to switch to a business account – for any company this is a must. This option is typically completely free, but will provide analytics to track things like:

  • Engagement
  • Clicks
  • Followers and unfollows.

Explore your social network settings and management dashboards to find these useful free resources.

Another key tool to use for tracking your clicks is Google Analytics. This will show you how much of your website traffic comes from social media and — more specifically — which platforms are referring visitors. Google Analytics is a must-have tool for gaining a valuable insight into your site traffic, referrals, acquisition and more.

Hiring a Social Media Manager

Successful B2B social media marketing takes knowledge, research, and commitment. It is not enough to establish yourself on a few platforms and wait for people to follow your profiles – you need to be posting fresh, interesting content that is relevant to your audience, and you need to be doing so consistently.

For many companies, this means hiring a social media manager to take charge of your accounts and strategy. You can use an existing employee for this, but remember that a successful social media strategy does take time and effort, and isn’t just a small task to add on to someone’s already busy list of responsibilities.

Content is King

Many B2B companies fail with social media because they think one of two things:

  1. “Social media is another opportunity for more leads”
  2. “Our industry is too boring for social media”.

Both of these are total myths. Any B2B company can and will be successful on social media with a proper strategy and content that actually engages your audience.

A company that constantly posts nothing but calls-to-action and links to services isn’t going to build a large following very easily. IBM’s Twitter account is a great example of how sharing content that interests your audience can be extremely effective — more so than broadcasting your services continuously.



The company’s strategy is to:

  • Sharing news relating to its industry
  • Share news stories involving IBM
  • Interest the audience and encourage them to share, retweet and engage.

This is far more effective than constant posts linking back to IBM’s services. B2B social media marketing is about building a brand – not about driving sales.

This is the most important thing to keep in mind when planning a social media strategy. You don’t want to appear to be a faceless corporation doing nothing but trying to sell services to other companies. Social media is your chance to give your company a personality, to connect with your target audience, and to establish yourself as a known name within your industry.

So, how to do this?

By creating quality content that interests your target audience.

When creating content, think WIIFM? Your target readers will only click a link if there is something in it for them. Aim to create an emotional connection with posts that benefit your reader, not your company.

Your target audience isn’t a large corporation. It’s a business owner. A real person who wants to save money, boost productivity, and make his or her office a better space for employees to work in. Consider hiring a professional business blogger to improve the clarity of the blog posts that you’re linking to and really promote the benefits of your brand to your key audience.

Long-form vs Short-form

There are varying opinions when it comes to long-form vs short-form content. When it comes to blog posts, typically the longer and more informative a post is, the better it’s going to do on SEO and with readers actively searching for answers.

However, when it comes to B2B social media marketing, keeping your posts short and snappy is more effective. This comes down to the basic principle of readability. Use copy that is ambiguous enough to intrigue your audience to click your links, or that is going to stand-out in their news-feed. While long-form blog posts are ultimately more useful to your audience, paragraphs of text isn’t always welcome on their social media feeds.

Humor

Social media is the ‘behind the scenes’ area for many companies. This is the space where you can let your hair down and be far more social with your audience than you are on your website. Don’t be afraid to share jokes and humor with your audience. Often, these types of posts do best in terms of engagement and make your company appear far more human to readers.

Be sure to establish guidelines when it comes to sharing humor on social media, however. There’s a fine line between sharing jokes that connect with your readers on a personal level, and sharing ‘humour’ that some could find offensive. That could harm your company in the future.

When to Share

Social media is not as simple as posting as and when you can – but you know that by now! A consistent and planned schedule to target your audience, when they are at their most active and engaged, is key.

It’s for this reason that automation tools are absolutely essential for any company on social media. Automation tools for B2B companies include:

Many of these tools offer free plans that micro-businesses can use to get started. Once you start earning ROI from your social media accounts, you can ramp up to paid plans.

Scheduling Blog Posts

Automating your blog post schedule is also a great way to help your social media marketing strategy run smoothly. Adhering to a consistent posting strategy — whether that’s twice a week, fortnightly, or monthly — will provide a stable calendar around which you can focus your social media strategy.

Keep an eye on what is popular on social media, and consider scheduling a well-timed blog post to share with your followers and drive traffic. If you hit the right nerve at the right time, your post could even go viral, which is a prize well worth pursuing.

Can B2Bs Go Viral Like B2Cs?

Creating viral content as a B2B company is, admittedly, more difficult than it is for B2C companies. That’s because rather than targeting the general population, you have a more specific audience with more specific needs.

Viral content is a combination of the following things:

  • Luck
  • Content that creates emotion
  • High-Quality
  • Easy to Share

Going viral isn’t an easy task, and it can often be an extra dose of luck for one post to take off when others don’t. The thing to remember is to aim to connect with the people behind the businesses you want to target. Creating a human connection with your audience is what will encourage people to share and engage with your content.

When to Post

Check out this great infographic for the best times to post on social media. The best times to post vary depending on the platform you are using, the timezone you’re in, and even what day of the week it is. Here is a rough schedule:

  • Facebook: 9am, 1pm, and 3pm.
  • Twitter: 12pm, 3pm, and 5-6pm
  • LinkedIn: 7-8am, 12pm, 5-6pm
  • Instagram: 2am, 8-9am, 5pm.

In any B2B social media marketing project, measurement is key, and you will start to get a feel for the best times to post after a few weeks.

Interacting with Your Followers

At this point, we’ve covered the importance of using social media to show the relatable, personable side of your B2B company. A key part of this idea is then interacting and engaging with your followers, adding to the authenticity of your online brand.

Make sure you:

  • Respond to all comments you receive on your blog and social media platforms (good and bad!)
  • Monitor your feeds for related content and responding. A great example of this is when companies respond to one person’s viral story by offering them a free service in response – a great PR opportunity for the savvy brand!

Staying Consistent

It’s important to maintain a consistent tone on your social media platforms. It’s here where having one person assigned to manage your social media accounts is particularly useful – if multiple people are responding to comments on social media, your readers will notice.

Setting brand guidelines is a great way to establish what tone of voice you want your company to have, and making sure that all accounts reflect this voice. A good aim is to be friendly and relatable but to still maintain a professional approach. It’s important to remember that your business account is not a personal space to express your own opinions.

Handling Feedback

A big fear for both B2B and B2C companies is that a customer will use social media to try to damage your reputation with bad reviews. While this can and does happen, it’s important that you have a strategy in place for dealing with such situations.

Do:

  • Address all bad feedback
  • Maintain a polite and professional tone
  • Acknowledge your customer’s dissatisfaction and try to find a remedy.

Don’t:

  • Publically accuse a customer of lying or being wrong
  • Take conversations private if you need more details
  • Ignore all bad reviews
  • Engage in arguments on social media.

Growing Your Audience

Social media – particularly LinkedIn and Twitter – works best when users are all connecting with each other. That means following the right people to help grow your audience.

Think about the people you want to target and the people that will be interested in your content. These two groups should be almost identical. Find them online. Connect with them, and they should follow you back.

Once you’ve built up a good number of connections, you will have boosted your chances of your content being shared by your audience.

Be careful not to be drawn into a ‘follow-unfollow’ strategy as a business, where you follow influencers and unfollow the ones that don’t reciprocate. Although this used to be a recommended tactic, you’re better off making carefully selected connections and letting your content and engagement speak for itself.

Replicate Successes

When looking to grow your audience using B2B social media marketing, one of the best places to look is at your competitors. Check out their social media accounts and see what type of content has been successful for them.

Of course, you don’t want to mimic another company and certainly want to keep the authenticity of your brand, but the popular content is popular for a reason. If infographics, for example, prove particularly popular with your industry’s audience, focus on creating the best version of those infographics available.

Measuring Progress

When you are investing time and money into your social media marketing strategy, measuring your progress is essential. This is particularly important if you are going to be paying for ads on Facebook – which can be hugely successful, but can also waste a lot of money if you aren’t focused.

So how do you achieve this?

Know Your Goals

Before beginning a marketing campaign such as Facebook Ads, define