The key to public relations in 2019 will be to cut through the online marketing clutter to get your brand to stand out from the crowd.
When is the last time you received a marketing email and asked yourself, “why do I care about this?” I bet it wasn’t that long ago. Or what about scrolling through social media and seeing a news article someone posted, then thinking the same thing.
Every day we get bombarded by messaging. We see hundreds, maybe even thousands of messages designed to get our attention. It’s overwhelming, and we’ve likely all developed personal messaging blinders to cut down on the irrelevant messages and take notice of the things we really care about.
The key to public relations in 2019 will be to cut through all that messaging clutter to get your brand noticed. And it starts with that little question you likely ask yourself dozens of times a day: “why should I care?” All the ideas below are based through this lens of figuring out why your audience will care about what your brand has to say.
Identify Target Audience
To answer this question, you first need to identify who you are trying to target with your message. Within the public relations sphere, you could be working on a press release to a news or radio station. You could be hosting an event, sending out a statement on behalf of your brand’s leadership, or working on thought leadership content. There’s all kinds of reasons to need to send out a message, but before you even start crafting it, you need to identify your target audience.
If you’re unsure of how to identify your target audience, let me suggest these steps.
“Why should I care?”
- Ask this question through the eyes of your target audience. If you can’t figure out why they would take notice of your messaging, you either have the wrong audience or the wrong message.
- Sending out an irrelevant message will just fall on deaf ears. It’s the equivalent of yelling into a canyon to hear your echo and getting nothing back. Lightning without the thunder. Pick your metaphor, but it just won’t work.
Identify channels for targeting.
- Too often we get rushed in our PR efforts and just send out a release or message into the void hoping someone will pick it up. Occasionally you’ll get a bite, and you can check it off your to-do list that you got it out. But you could get a much great response with a little targeting.
- Targeted channels could be on social media, through specific media outlets that speak to your desired audience, or direct to consumer if you have the information.
Build trust for your brand.
- Think of your brand and your target audience as being in a long-term relationship together. There’s some give and take, there’s nurturing that needs to go on, there’s trust built, and the stronger the bond, the longer that audience will stick around. That’s how it works between your key audience and your brand.
- They need to know they can trust you. You need to learn what they need and provide it for them. If you do this regularly with all key target audiences, your PR efforts will have so much more meaning. They’ll find the message you’re trying to send, and your online presence will improve because they’re coming to you for more information.
Traditional Media Influence Wanes in Favor of Digital
For years, those who toe the line of digital content say that traditional media is dead. Things like radio, TV, newspaper have lost their effectiveness. I disagree with these allegations of death to media. But I do think it has lost some of its influence in PR efforts. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t utilize it. You can still drive traditional media relations to gain more influence through digital mediums.
The search engine optimization industry is built around people looking for information online. They Google a term and look through the results for their answer. Use that to your advantage when it comes to using traditional media. You can still build those media relations, still pitch the stories that you know matter. But then direct readers, viewers, listeners, etc. to get more information online. This drives more traffic to your site where they’ll find more great content and information. It’s so simple, but many view traditional media as its own division and don’t deviate from that.
Media relations still matters. Reporters will still cover stories that matter to the communities you live in. You need to have those relationships with different people who cover different beats. Just sending a generic pitch and hoping it sticks will not work. Reporters still want to be treated like people, and not just a resource you pitch to, and they want legitimate pitches that tell important stories. Real content generated by reporters, versus native paid content is not going away.
Consider this, rather than just pitching press releases, you might consider becoming a content partner to the media. Creating content across multiple channels will expand and deepen your reach while proving you’re a valuable partner and contributor to your media contacts. These channels could include blogs, infographics, voice content to go with everyone’s new smart speakers, and video.
Being a content partner goes beyond just creating good contact. Going above and beyond will mean creating a content distribution plan to engage different followers of your brand. It can also help your content reach more of the right people.
Previously content has fallen under the marketing umbrella at most organizations. But that line gets more and more blurred every year. It’s important not to silo content into one department or another because it’s so valuable in PR.
Storytelling and Personal Branding
Personal branding is a big trend taking over the marketing world and will play well to PR professionals. I love the phrase “people fascinate people”, meaning people love hearing engaging and relatable stories of other people. Use that in your PR efforts. As you know, public relations is all about how your target audience views your brand, and more often than not, the leaders of a company are included in the brand as a whole. Establishing these leaders and advocates within the brand as thought leaders and industry knowledgeable will only help your ongoing PR efforts.
Help your business leaders build their own brands within the bigger brand as a whole. Showing they’re humans just like everyone else gives an entirely new dimension, and provides a greater base for more trust in the brand in the future.
Pitching the Influencer
Influencers have been the big new trend in marketing and PR efforts over the past 18 months. I equate influencers in 2019 to the powerful mommy bloggers around 2009 and 2010. These influencers get the word out. But getting them to tell the story or promote the product is another form of pitching. You have to show them why they should care about your brand, and what they will get out of it.
Influencer marketing can be pricey. These influencers know the power of their individual brand. The key is to show them why your brand matters to their followers. And be prepared to pay the price when they agree.
This is another example of knowing your audience, but two-fold. You need to know why the influencer would care about your brand’s messaging, and why their audience will care. What you need to remember about influencer is that they bring in a huge audience for your brand, but they might not have the interest you’re hoping for. Often influencers bring in a lot of short-term social chatter, but rarely bring about long-term behavior or traffic. The sheer number of followers does not necessarily mean people will be enthusiastic about the message received. Again, it’s important to know the audience your influencer will be talking to and make sure you best utilize your messaging to fit it.
The opposite side of the coin from influencers are brand advocates. These tend to be satisfied customers who tout their success of a brand online for others. This can be one of your most-powerful PR tools in 2019 to increase your online exposure. Brand advocates are genuinely passionate about a brand, its products and services, and are willing to defend a brand long-term.
Look at your social media comments and the online reviews of your brand to find your first line of brand advocates, and reach out to them to learn more about your brand from an outsider’s perspective. This will help you with further messaging and campaigns moving forward to better talk about things that really matter to your actual customers.