Content Marketing INFOGRAPHIC: Where is the Ad Spend Headed?

Marketo recently put together a great content marketing infographic that pits traditional advertising against content marketing in terms of spend and effort.  This makes a lot of sense: advertising is content we’re putting out into the world, after all, but the channels are generally analog.  The biggest difference between content marketing and advertising, though, is that one of the main principles of content marketing is getting out there and marketing the marketing, which isn’t something one would typically do with a traditional print ad or a digital banner ad (which I’ll call Direct Marketing, therefore differentiating it from “advertising” – something that’s meant to generate a click or an action is a direct marketing tactic).  That being said, as content marketing matures as a discipline, it’s inevitable that some of its radical core principles will influence its more conservative cousin, Traditional Advertising.

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are neck-and-neck on where folks are distributing their content; this surprised me until I remembered that, as a new discipline, a lot of content marketers I know (and this includes me) are B2B marketers, and LinkedIn is the channel for that.  Also surprising to me was finding that more than half the content marketers surveyed outsource their content, but perhaps it shouldn’t: I know more than anyone the challenges of continually producing relevant, engaging content.  With average budgets growing, I’m sure we’ll continue to see content marketing apps and other software products crop up as folks scramble to programmatically address the new content marketing landscape.

Content Marketing Infographic

 

While we can’t be sure where content marketing is headed, and what that means for PR and Social Media as content marketing disciplines by default, the trend is that more companies are spending more money on this new department.  The good news: content marketing metrics are easier to establish and track than traditional media spend, so the elusive ROI debate should be easier to manage with skeptical senior executives.

How to Hire a PR Firm | 10 Tips to Finding the Right Match

Thinking about hiring a PR firm? Before you get too far, take these 10 tips into account.

So, you’re thinking it’s time to hire a PR firm?

Great, I can help! I have hired 6 or 7 (and fired a few).

While the process might seem simple, in truth it is hard to do well. By “well” I mean hiring the right firm, for the right reasons, with goals set to deliver a positive impact. The first few times I went through the process it felt overwhelming, but over the years I have built up a list of tips that help me choose the right PR firm every time. I think my tip list might help you, too!

If you made it this far into the article, congratulations, you’ve already realized the value of PR. If not, and as a refresher, think of PR as key top of funnel customer touch point. As marketers know, we must touch our prospective customers a few times before they buy and there are many ways to do that, PR being one of the most powerful. If done right, PR subtly touches prospects in the media they consume and world they live in every day.

The best PR is barely noticeable as PR, and in truth, it is all around us everyday. Since PR pros outnumber journalists in the US by 4:1, it’s impossible to ignore the impact and influence that PR, and more importantly the companies they represent, have on media. In addition, it’s important to recognize the volume of noise PR pros create for journalists. Just imagine how many pitches each journalist must hear/read every day since PR pros outnumber them so greatly. As such, every PR pitch must stand out, relationships make a huge difference and successfully placing a story is MUCH more time consuming and difficult than people think. No, I’m sorry to say, PR isn’t as simple as writing a press release.

All this is to say that PR is not easy. It does not happen fast. And it is very difficult to do with one person. As such, many of us hire teams to manage PR in house, and many of us hire a firm. As you’ll read in the tips section, both have their merits, and both have downfalls. If you are thinking of hiring a PR firm, the following tips should help you through he process!

10 Tips to consider when you hire a PR Firm:

  • Tip #1 – When you hire a PR firm, decide on PR/Firm goals before you do anything else!

As with all PR and marketing programs, I always advise defining goals before getting too far into making decisions about retaining an agency. We must recognize that strategy is the first step to success and leads to tactical execution. I am a firm believer that good strategy starts with goals. As you look to hire a PR firm, decide what you are trying to achieve. A few great examples are: brand awareness, thought leadership, attention for a specific product or program, etc.

  • Tip #2 – When you hire a PR firm, make sure you have considered all options.

How does a company tackle PR effectively? Hire a PR firm? Hire in-house? The answer will be different for every company, but I venture to say it is generally a combination of the two for a very good reason: a PR firm that isn’t managed by someone who understands PR will never fully realize the firm’s full potential.  A PR firm needs brand and product knowledge and most importantly, access to the right internal people for both strategy and execution, and an internal PR person makes this possible. This combination of in-house and PR firm is not always possible, so you’ll need to decide what your budget warrants. If you don’t plan to have an internal PR person, your PR agency is likely best managed by the CMO.

  • Tip #3 – When you hire a PR firm, decide on RFP or no RFP process?

You can always just hire a firm that you already know or have heard good things about. However, if you have never hired a PR firm I strongly advise going through the formal request for proposal (RFP) process. And, more importantly, I advise that you hire a PR pro with specific RFP experience to help lead the process if it’s your first time. If you have never been through an RFP to hire a PR agency, the process will seem daunting. Generally the first steps are to define what you are trying to achieve, your goals, what you actually want the firm to do, and then come up with a list of 10-ish prospective firms. This list can be tricky, because you want to carefully weigh PR firm capabilities to your goal expectations. From there you contact each firm to gauge their interest and issue a request for qualifications (RFQ), a document that will help you to whittle down the prospect list. Those that choose to participate will send qualifications to be reviewed against the others and you’ll select a few (I recommend 3) agencies that will formally pitch/compete for your business. Each will bring a team to pitch you, and you select one from the three. While this may not seem so bad, it is time consuming and if you do not have experience or a network of potential agencies, the process will feel overwhelming.

  • Tip #4 – When you hire a PR firm, determine your PR Agency budget.

Seems like a simple tip, right? In some ways it is, but it is important to make a firm decision on your top-line budget. Agencies are expensive and you’ll need to make sure you clearly articulate your top-line budget, including base retainer, overages, expenses and incidentals. Believe me, it can add up.  Make sure you have a clear path that requires written approval for any month expense that exceeds your budget.

  • Tip #5 – When you hire a PR firm, decide what size PR firm is right for you.

PR firms come in all different shapes and sizes, and the firm that’s right for you might not be the firm you’d predict. There are many reasons to go with large PR firms (global reach, massive relationship networks, fantastic experience) and just as many reasons to choose a boutique PR firm (smaller, more closely knit teams, local expertise, niche industries, etc.). One thing to keep in mind is how much your budget dollars will mean to the firm you hire. For instance, often a $15,000/month retainer could be one of the largest accounts if you hire a small PR firm, but a very small account if you are hire large PR firm. Keep in mind; the bigger clients usually get the A-team. If your budget is modest, you may want to consider a smaller boutique firm.

  • Tip #6 – When you hire a PR firm, make specific requests regarding their pitch presentation.

When you hire a firm, especially when you implement a formal RFP process, there will be a formal presentation when your prospective agencies pitch you in effort to win your business. Before that meeting I recommend making three very specific asks:

1 – Ask that they only send people who will be on you account from day one to the meeting. This way you will not get caught up in a situation where you’re pitched by the A-team, but assigned to the D-team.  Bait and switch situations can be painful and should be avoided at all costs.

2 – Ask that everyone who will be on your team be involved in the presentation, not just the team lead. In the end you will work with everyone, you’ll want to know how each one thinks.

3 – Ask agencies keep their “about us” description and back-patting slides to a minimum. After all, if you weren’t interested in the PR firm they would not be in the room, you’ve already done your homework!

  • Tip #7 – When you hire a PR firm, don’t ignore the importance of chemistry.

Make sure you like the team you are hiring. Of course it is important that they are qualified and will do a great job, but it’s equally important that you like them and want to work with them. It’s really no different than hiring people to your own internal team, you want to be excited to work with them everyday!

  • Tip #8 – When you hire a PR firm, look to hire an extension your team, not just an agency.

Tip #7 really leads me to tip #8. I firmly believe that you should think of your PR firm as part of your team, not as a 3rd party. While your PR firm team will work with more than just your account, you should never feel like they are working with anyone but you. My advice is to tell prospective PR firms, from the first time you meet, that you work with agencies differently than most clients; you want to hire an extension to your team, you’re not looking for an average client/agency relationship.

  • Tip #9 – When you hire a PR firm, make sure they have at least one idea you’re excited about!

In the pitch meetings, if the PR firms have done their homework and prepared properly, they will present a few different PR campaign ideas based on your RFP requirements. I generally take these ideas with a grain of salt, after all these PR firms are not fully on-boarded and have limited knowledge of your brand. That said, at least one of the ideas should be out-of-the-box and cool enough to get you excited!

  • Tip #10 – When you hire a PR firm, understand your contract.

Once you decide on which PR firm you want to hire, you will move to contract and/or statement of work (SOW).  Make sure you review it carefully, with a lawyer if possible, and understand all key terms (cost/budget, duration, team, hours you receive based on budget, how they will report out results, etc.). I have yet to see a PR firm contract that I have not red-lined substantially, which they fully expect. If something seems off, red-line it and negotiate. Most of the time PR firms are agreeable assuming your asks are reasonable.

I don’t intend to claim that these 10 tips will make the process easy. But, I do promise that these tips will make the process of hiring a PR firm less painful and they will help you to make an informed and wise choice.

 

Social Listening for the World Cup: Who’s Hot on Social Media

This tweet from Senda Athletics is a great example of a “culture vulture” approach that tied their brand to a big moment: in this case, Uruguay’s Suarez biting the shoulder of Italy’s Chiellini.

 

World Cup social listening has, thus far, led to some pretty predictable results:  Brazil is still dominating the chatter, which makes a lot of sense considering that they’re the host nation.  The volume of social media World Cup chatter on Twitter has been insane: the @twitterdata handle gives us the highlights per match, with numbers like “300,000 TPM (Tweets per minute)” during the USA vs. Portugal game:

That particular game ended in a spectacular fashion, when Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo crossed a last-second ball that led to the game-tying goal in overage time with about 20 seconds left.  Ronaldo is, in addition to being a win-spoiler for the USA and a devilishly handsome fellow, the highest-paid footballer in the world, so it’s no surprise that he’s had more mentions in the World Cup word cloud than any other player (and quite a few nations):

Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez, Neymar and Rooney: the top-mentioned players thus far in the World Cup… and only one got there with his front teeth.

 

Twitter, in the meantime, has done an excellent job of harnessing the worldwide popularity of this event and showcasing its relevance by publishing data as events unfold.  As the World Cup continues, we’ll most likely continue to see more and more promotion of the event on Twitter itself: today there’s to-the-minute game results, as well as various prompts to add your tweets to the chatter.

We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for more World Cup chatter with our social listening tool, Meltwater Buzz.

10 Steps to More Facebook Fans with Reach and Engagement – NEW E-Book!

Want more Facebook fans? The key to more fans lies in maximizing your Reach and Engagement. Learn how to expand both in 10 easy steps.

More Facebook Fans are a good thing… as long as those Fans are engaged.  Getting more Fans the right way means maximizing your Facebook Reach and Engagement in order to keep the Fans you have active and engaged with your brand.

Facebook Reach and Engagement work hand-in-hand, and with Facebook having throttled organic Reach for brands, spurring it on your own is the best way to gain exposure and maximize your Facebook presence.

This is the 5th book in a 7-book series of Facebook marketing guides that give you everything you ever wanted to know about Facebook marketing, but didn’t know you need to know.

Download the guide by clicking here:

More Facebook Fans – 10 Steps to Better Reach and Engagement.

For more on Facebook marketing tips, check out our Facebook marketing articles.

The World Cup on Twitter: GOOOOOOOL in 243,000 Tweets Per Minute

Regardless as to who’s winning on the field, Twitter is winning the World Cup in social data.

 

Twitter is having a very good World Cup.

The micro-messaging giant has taken advantage of its worldwide reach and insane amounts of social data by actually sharing that data with the rest of us, in uniquely engaging ways that have this digital marketer tipping my hat to them.  Here are a few of the groovy things that Twitter has released to the public to make your World Cup experience more interesting:

The World Cup of Tweets

Twitter has created a competition based on tweet volume per country.  Our own social listening reporting is giving us the same data that Twitter is: Brazil is the most tweeted-about country thus far.  In order to help your favorite team come out ahead, all you have to do is pick your country of choice and hit “support your team,” and a pre-populated Tweet goes out into the Twitterverse.  Hey, it’s good for Twitter and for your team: armchair activism has never been easier.

 

World Cup on Twitter: the Tweetmap

Twitter is releasing heatmaps to reflect real-time tweet activity during huge games.  With Brazil vs. Mexico having garnered an absolutely astounding 8.95 tweets overall, with a high point of 243,000 TPM (yes, Tweets Per Minute is apparently an event success metric now), watching the heatmaps go off is a strangely compelling replay of the game.  So compelling are these maps that they have garnered Twitter a lot of earned media, with reporters writing articles right and left about the activity.

 

@twitterdata

I didn’t know that Twitter had this handle, but I’m thrilled that watching the World Cup has led me to this important business discovery, as I can now most certainly justify my attendance in our company kitchen where the huge TV playing the games and a ready supply of snacks are.  Twitter is using this handle at the moment to call out some of the more compelling pieces of data that are coming out of chatter surrounding the World Cup on Twitter, with groovy little infographics (remember, good infographics are visually compelling data visualization) that are winners for them on two fronts: from a content marketing standpoint, these little graphics are immensely shareable; from a marketing and brand standpoint, these are essentially ads that solidify Twitter as being the most relevant powerhouse for social data surrounding these sorts of worldwide events.

This is also where Twitter is releasing the Tweetmaps for the big games.  USA vs. Ghana tweet replay, anyone?

 

Whether Jack Dorsey is planning on ripping his shirt off and running around a soccer field fist-pumping in victory once the World Cup is over has yet to be reported… but a girl can dream.