By: Hali Mieser
Public relations has always been and will always be about content development and management, but with the fast evolving social media trend, PR must “keep up with the times.” Past PR professionals have taught us to curate creative and strategic stories for clients along with teaching us to measure media coverage. But the PR field has changed. As the lines between advertising, marketing and public relations begin to blur, PR professionals have to learn to navigate these new waters.
The first trend to look out for is specialized experts. In today’s Internet-based world, it is easier (and cheaper) to assemble a group of experts per project basis, instead of keeping the mental processes all beneath the same roof. Sure, it will take more effort from the agency end but the future of PR looks like partnerships between experts.
The next trend is the content train. Agencies used to simply hand over their public relations, marketing and advertising, sit back and approve whatever need be. Today, in order for work to get done smarter, faster and cheaper, promotion and advertising requires participation from the client. Simply put, your client knows the material and you don’t. But what you do know is what kind of content spreads, how to create it, market it and measure it.
You can outsource a lot of duties but outsourcing relationships is a resounding mistake. The client must be involved in forming trustworthy relationships. This means delegating time each day to communicate with the agency’s clients, hence the SOCIAL aspect of social media. Sure, the agency could outsource the building of relationships, but this could be the downfall of the agency. It could go one of three ways: the trustworthiness of the relationship would be a lie, the agency would be posting irrelevant content that is not reaching the clients but rather shouting into the void which in return is getting no interaction or the client could lose any and all of the human aspect which is imperative to forming meaningful relationships.
The last trend to consider is respect of the blogger. Traditional media and advertising is not dead, but it is important to remember the different online opportunities. Building relationships with bloggers is imperative because not only is the advertising cost-effective, it also targets and even narrows down the target audience to whom you are looking for with more precision. Getting creative with other bloggers is a strategic and engaging move; ideas could include guest posts on each other sites or reviews.
Public relations professionals have come a long way. Just years ago the only form of media relations tools was the telephone. Today, there are many more options. But with so many options, our voices could get overpowered, therefore, it is essential to watch out for future trends in the PR world.
By Elizabeth Fisher
Building audience engagement on social media is an important goal for many organizations. Audience engagement can help you form closer relationships to your consumers and followers. Below are some helpful hints to building your organization’s audience engagement.
- Include a Photo
According to socialmediaexaminer.com, simply by including a photo in your tweet the amount of retweets can increase by 35%. Almost 75% of content on Facebook includes a photo, if your Facebook and other social media posts do not incorporate photography they could be passed up on follower’s timelines.
- Show Your Personality
By featuring humor or an emotional appeal and applying your specific brand to posts, you can create stronger audience engagement.
- Use Innovative Ideas to Drive Your Posts
Your social media posts should be unique and differ from your competitor’s content. It is important to keep up with trends, but use these trends in your own creative way. You also want to be sure that you are not repeating yourself too often or users could become bored of your content. Launching new social media campaigns annually can help keep your social media from becoming “stale”, Coca Cola’s #shareacoke campaign is a great example. People were able to find their name and post it to social media, which caused audience engagement.
- Know Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is the simplest way to reach your followers. You may want to consider the type of content you are posting and even the time of day that your target audience is more likely to be on social media. Track when you are receiving the most engagement and base your future posts off similar content and time of day.
- Know the Right Platforms for Your Audience
Some audiences are particular with which social media platforms they use. Know what platforms your target audience is on and focus content to those platforms.
- Encourage Engagement
Look for ways to encourage audience engagement through your social media. For example, ask them to “comment for a chance to win a free T-shirt.” You could even encourage people to share their experience, for example, “now that you have heard Becky’s story, share your own and tag us.” Users like to talk about themselves on social media, this would give them the opportunity to do so.
- Engage back with Followers
By replying to users it builds a relationship, especially when each repose is unique. Do not avoid negative comments, this will only make users angry. Send users to a customer support site or customer service number as well as apologize for whatever inconvenience they are having.
- What’s Interesting Today?
Social Media trends move very quickly. It is important to stay on top of these trends and find ways to incorporate them within your own social media. When the Hollywood sign was changed, for example, Denny’s restaurants put their own spin on the controversy.
- Videos and GIFs Grab Followers Attention
Videos can be compelling to viewers, but they can also loose interest quickly. Keep videos reduced to about two minutes. An exciting caption and introduction to the video will captivate the audience’s attention. GIFs have become popular because they are so quick for followers to watch and will add personality to your posts.
- Share Followers Content that Relates
The greatest way to form relationships with followers is by sharing the content that they post that pertains to your organization. This will make users excited about your content and as it makes it more personal and relatable.
By Brittany Green
When Twitter was first launched, people were uncertain how successful it would be. Now in 2016, there are millions of users and more than 500 million tweets sent out every day. People are using Twitter to find news, share information and connect with people and businesses around the world. It has become a very powerful tool, not only for social purposes, also to help businesses market their brands.Some of the most successful companies use Twitter because it allows them to reach a large audience, interact with them quickly and keep them updated with content information.
Chipotle is a great example of a company that efficiently uses Twitter to interact with it’s audiences. According to a 2011 Nation’s Restaurant News Study, 90 percent of the company’s activity on Twitter is responding to customers through @mentions. Chipotle currently has 743,000 followers that it can interact and share content with. That is certainly amazing, but also something that, in principle, any business can do. If you’re interested in using Twitter to build your brand, here are some tips to help you get started.
Use the search feature
One of Twitter’s most powerful tools is the search feature. It can operate as a “global human search engine” of sorts and allows people to find others on Twitter with relevant information to share. Researchers also can look to see which topics are trending to stay informed and gauge audience interests. Hashtags (#) can help people immensely when searching. Just put a “#” in front of a topic and a lists of relevant tweets will appear. This can save you a lot of trouble and makes it very easy to search.
Know your audience
It is VERY important to know your audience. This will help you communicate clearly and make information relevant to them. If the content is not interesting, they will quickly move on to the next thing that interests them. The search feature can be very useful for learning about your
target audiences. It can tell you what is trending and their opinions on what’s going on. Another option is to look at various profiles and start collecting information. What are their interests and opinions? When are they active? Who do they follow? Which demographic groups do they belong to? These details can help give you an edge when creating strategic messaging for your audiences.
Customize the profile page
This plays a BIG role in visitors’ decisions to either read your content or move on. If your page is boring and doesn’t attract visitors, they probably aren’t going to follow you. The profile page should grab the visitors’ attention and convey who you are and what you’re about. While customizing the profile page, perhaps the most important decision is choosing a good avatar, as it will appear next to every tweet that is sent out. Make it something recognizable and eye-catching. Brand logos often fit well here since they are usually designed with these ideas in mind. An attractive banner image is a nice touch as well, and don’t forget to include links to your other social media accounts and/or website in order to create deeper engagement.
Tweet interesting content
This one may seem obvious, but bland content is still a common mistake that plagues the social media of many businesses. The Twitter feed is built around scrolling endlessly through a series of short posts. To escape the monotony, many people just scroll until something grabs their attention. Content should be fun, interesting and useful. Common themes or ideas in your content can help to establish your brand identity and keep readers coming back. Interesting, personal content is what separates your brand from everyone else, so use it to your advantage.
Engage with other accounts
Engaging with other accounts, particularly those within your industry/field, can be highly beneficial. Building relationships can help to build your reputation, grow your brand, increase awareness, provide sources of interesting content and keep you informed. This can also keep you informed about what your competitors might be doing and the state of the market.
More and more businesses are using Twitter as a professional communication platform, and if you follow these tips, yours can be one of them. On that note, remember to follow Innovative PR on Twitter and Facebook.
By Jamie Jackson
I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).
Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).
Use brightly colored and well-lit photos
An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.
However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.
Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.
Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.
No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:
Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.
You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta
If you use Instagram, actually USE it
Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.
Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.
By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.
Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.
While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.
Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.
By Hank Kellerman
You’ve seen it in cartoons: A freshly baked pie is steaming hot and placed on the window sill to cool. The tantalizing aroma begins to drift around the house and finds a hungry character. With a quick flick of it’s cherry scented finger, the character slowly floats up a bit and begins to follow the wonderful smell.
Simply put, this is a great example of inbound marketing. In recent years there has been an explosion of inbound marketing across all types of businesses, but more specifically smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is the process of developing online content that is compelling, informative and fulfills your audience’s hunger for the product or services they want or need. Inbound marketing focuses on bringing customers to you versus having customers go out looking for them. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but some of the more common methods include blogs, social media discussions, forums and SEO optimization.
Before you jump head first into the rapid currents of inbound marketing, strap on some water wings and follow these guidelines for developing an inbound marketing strategy.
Develop Buyer Personas
How do you know and write for your audience? If you just write about topics without the proper research, you could fail to reach your desired audience. One tool that can help you create some excellent audience-specific content are your buyer personas. Buyer personas provide the inside scoop about what your customers are like. They can tell you numerous demographic and psychographic details such as their age, income, hobbies, day-to-day activities and more. Developing buyer personas enables you to accurately create specialized online content to address questions and topics focused to your customers.
SEO and Keywords
Most people know it is extremely difficult to show up on the front page of Google. Google uses digital spiders to crawl across the Internet and search for the most relevant content on that matches the needs of the search query. To get on the front page, your content must be optimized for search engines by using keywords.
There are a multitude of tools that can be used to find keywords, including the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro. These tools help you search for relevant keywords with regards to your topic and also can show you things such as how often a certain word is searched every month, its keyword competitiveness and other sites that use this keyword. If you find the right keyword and include it in your content’s titles and main body paragraphs with great surrounding content, your page will be much more likely to rise from the depths and find itself on the first page of Google search results.
Content is Key
This phrase has been uttered by marketing and public relations professionals millions of times. It also has never been so true. Creating compelling content that is relevant to what your consumers are searching for is only the beginning. For a successful inbound marketing strategy, your content has to be better than great. It has to be amazing.
Anyone can write a blog post about how to rebrand a business, but it takes a talented individual to write an in-depth, informative and star-studded post. You need to create content so great that other sites want to back link (the process of other sites linking to your post or site) to it. This also aids in the chances of your site being found organically by search engines. Search engines will view your site as having more credibility with more back links and, in turn, will lead to your site appearing higher up on search engine results pages.
How Do You Put This All Together?
Grab your mixing bowl and get ready to bake that aromatic fruit-filled pie that will have your audience flocking to your content. Do your research. Developing buyer personas, finding relevant keywords and writing amazing content all take time and effort. Spend the time to develop these three items and get ready to watch your consumers come to you. The world of marketing is changing rapidly, and the power of the Internet makes it is much easier for your consumers to find you on their own time than it is for you to reach out to them. So what are you waiting for? Start doing your research and that content-rich pie sitting in the window will be too irresistible to pass up.
by Jonathan Haile
This semester started with a question for Innovative PR: what is brand journalism? Just when we thought we had the answer, we scratched our heads and realized there was more to it. Ultimately, we concluded that brand journalists provide readers with different stories that cover different aspects of a brand. When readers piece these stories together, they have a general understanding of the brand’s image and values.
Our best example was Coca-Cola, which takes brand journalism to a new level with a site that looks similar to Mashable, but features all Coke-relevant content. While I’m a huge fan of what Coke is doing, I couldn’t help but think that “brand journalism” is just a fancy word for content marketing. So what’s the difference?
What is Content Marketing?
My commutes to and from Warrensburg are filled with the words of Joe Pulizzi, the author of Epic Content Marketing. Pulizzi is credited with coining the term. In his book, he explains that the content marketing, in the grand scheme of things, is about getting leads and driving sales. Business 2 Community, another great resource, agrees with Pulizzi and explains that content marketing involves a “customer” relationship:
“Content marketing goal: Influence audience behavior by publishing useful content that supports the customer journey, encourages loyalty and enables amplifications.”
When you start a content marketing campaign, Pulizzi suggests you begin with a “pilot,” which he compares to that of a new television series. The pilot is an example of what your readers should expect, and is accompanied by sales measurable objectives. With a successful content strategy, you will always understand why and how your content is driving the audience to make purchase decisions.
The two concepts have inherently different objectives, but are great compliments to each other and share similarities. Brand journalists and content marketers need to be strategic in their posts—knowing what is relevant to the reader and where the post will get the most exposure.
Both tools should function to strengthen the relationship between customers and brands, lower brands’ advertising costs, and be beneficial for brands’ internal audiences. They reinforce corporate values and keep employees updated with company happenings.
As a PR student, what is more appealing? Would you rather tell the unique corporate story as a brand journalist or drive sales and build leads as a content marketer? Let us know. “Follow” Innovative PR on Twitter and Instagram, and “like” us on Facebook.
by Chelsey Webber
The concept of brand journalism is quickly becoming a trend in the world of public relations and marketing. Some professionals even venture to say that brand journalists will soon be in high demand. With traditional forms of journalism in decline, media and PR professionals could soon find themselves recruited by companies in search of brand journalists. But the question remains: what’s brand journalism?
Brand journalism stems from the idea that companies wish to be seen as more than just sellers of products and ideas. They want to be champions of sustainable efforts, environmentally friendly causes and resources, humanitarian efforts and more. AdAge characterizes brand journalism as a “Modern Marketing Imperative” that focuses on developing a brand’s story by producing creative, customized content. This extends beyond writing news releases and conversing on social media. Brand journalists write relevant and newsworthy stories to help develop a company’s brand beyond its products and services.
Coca-Cola: Brand Journalism Experts
Coca-Cola illustrates the concept of brand journalism brilliantly. Its website is filled with articles that, strangely enough, have very little to do with Coke products. You can find information regarding programs that range from restoring local parks and playgrounds to providing clean water for villages in Africa.
The content found on its website is telling the story of Coca-Cola’s brand. It positions the company as more than just a distributor of soft drinks by humanizing it. Coca-Cola’s brand has established it as not only an industry leader of soft drinks, but also as a champion of community outreach and humanitarian relief. Coke isn’t simply a soft drink; it’s a soft drink with integrity.
My Two Cents (You’re welcome).
My research on brand journalism leads me to believe that, as a whole, the concept is quite simple. As a brand journalist, you are not speaking to the company’s interests. Rather, you are speaking to the interests of the consumers.
In this wonderfully cohesive marriage of journalism, storytelling and brand management, you will find timely, relevant and newsworthy stories, written by brand journalists on behalf of a company. The important thing to recognize about brand journalism is that you are not writing marketing or advertising copy. These are stories that consumers can relate to without feeling bombarded by the never-ending stream of traditional marketing and advertising.
by Stephanie Harvey
Grabbing bloggers’ attention and getting them to talk about your company is becoming more and more important. Even a simple mention by an influential blogger with a large following could lead to a great deal of exposure.
Bloggers have a lot to say. The bigger their following, the more this may be true. That is why in the next few points below you will be provided with four easy ways to get bloggers writing about your company.
Choose targeted bloggers
It’s important to choose specific and targeted bloggers who are interested in or already write about topics relating to your company and industry. You can better understand the blogger by going back and reading over their posts. This may take some time, but it’s worth it. Doing this will help your company gain a better understanding of the blogger. Make sure to understand the blogger’s specific audience. They’re the people you want to reach.
Get bloggers interested
You can get bloggers interested many ways. One of the most common ways is to send them products to test. If your company solely provides services you can invite them to a one-on-one meeting. The blogger might also be interested in attending a product launch party or other exclusive event to gain inside access. Simply meeting the blogger over lunch or coffee and discussing your company may even get them more interested.
Motivate them by building a relationship
Give the blogger further information about the specific product that you are wanting them to promote or talk about. Images and videos are always make great content worth sending. Don’t forget about the highly influential video bloggers on YouTube and other video services.
Make sure to not send the blogger too little or too much content. Give them ways to find content on their own if they continue to show interest. Always make sure not to send them dry content. Giving them a digital and print media kit is a good route to take.
Share the blogger’s content
It also might maintain the relationship if promoting their original content. Bloggers that makes money from advertisements on their sites, so they’ll appreciate the increased traffic. Promoting their YouTube channel would help them as well.
By following the four steps you can not only gain insight into a blogger’s world, get them talking about your company, and most importantly, build a long-lasting relationship.
by Ana Guzman
Have you noticed that it’s less people are seeing posts from your Facebook page? Over time, Facebook has applied algorithmic changes to its news feed, drastically changing the content your fans see. This algorithm was designed to create a news feed specifically targeted to you, making it the perfect “personalized digital newspaper” as Mark Zuckerberg called it. However, it has created another problem. Over the last year many organizations, small businesses and users noticed a decrease in interaction. Users feel like it has converted Facebook from a free platform to a “Pay-and-Play” platform.
Suppressing organic posts
In an article last year on Forbes.com, columnist Nick Bilton, explained how he noticed decreases in likes, shares and comments in his posts, so he decided to experiment with the system. Bilton paid $7 to promote his column and within a few hours noticed the huge difference in shares and likes. He publicized his reaction, a belief that Facebook could possibly be suppressing other posts in order to boost others.
The algorithm as Facebook sees it
Facebook immediately replied, “There have been recent claims suggesting that our news feed algorithm suppresses organic distribution of posts in favor of paid posts in order to increase our revenue. This is not true.” The company explained that engagement has gone up 34 percent for those who have activated the Follow Feature and have followers. They also explain that people cannot compare engagement rates in posts from a year ago to today. Facebook says it is as if comparing apples to oranges. The comparison in engagement is irrelevant because the posts are not the same. Facebook also stated that decrease in interaction could merely be due to the content or type of post.
There’s more to Social Media than just Facebook
Users with little to no budget to promote posts have been bothered with the changes, and some even see it as an ultimatum. They can either find the means to boost their posts or leave the platform. However, Facebook’s algorithm does not mean users have to pay to maintain social media engagement across all networks. We as marketers can blame the algorithm for some of our troubles, but we’ll always be able to get creative with other social media outlets. A picture is worth a thousand words so capture an amazing one and tweet it, post it on Instagram or Pinterest and compare the engagement. And who knows? We may just have to strengthen our content on Facebook to make it more appealing to our audiences.