A mentor once told me that PR boils down to three things: what you want to communicate, to whom, and how. While this may seem simple, any PR professional knows that there can be great complexity behind our work.
This is especially the case given today’s shrinking media environment. Long gone are the days where a PR pro has a myriad of outlets and reporters to pitch new client ideas out to. The continual decline of the newspaper means the chances of landing an earned story are more difficult – particularly in smaller markets.
While times are certainly different, I have been fortunate to work with teams that have embraced this reality by increasingly bolstering expertise in paid digital and social media storytelling in order to reach targeted audiences. Along the way, I’ve utilized an approach to managing these campaigns that has produced results for clients – and some interesting takeaways.
Think concise, personal, and mobile.
Social and digital ad copy should be to the point and include compelling imagery. Ideally video. This is nothing new. Beyond these fundamentals however, I’ve learned working with CHI Franciscan Health and the Washington State Pharmacy Association that campaigns featuring real life testimonials and experiences resonate the most – and that audiences tend to engage with the content on their mobile devices, as opposed to desktop computers.
Dial down the PR jargon.
When proposing the value of digital and social campaigns, it is imperative to frame this strategy in a digestable manner. While you may sound like an expert referring to benchmarks like “high CTR” and “applause rate” as a positive thing, you’re most likely only confusing clients. What you’re recommending are straightforward tactics proven to reach audiences more effectively. That’s it. So tone down the PR-speak. Otherwise, you may not get the opportunity to execute on this strategy due to a lack of buy-in or understanding from key decision makers.
Executing on a Facebook or banner ad can require a quick turnaround. While clients may be eager to get started, it is imperative to remind them the importance of taking a step back to develop a messaging framework that aligns with their objectives before kicking off a campaign – and not the other way around. Speed is key. But an ad hoc, thoughtless approach to an online strategy will lead to inefficiencies and confusion among audiences in the long run.
Course correct accordingly.
Unlike traditional, “old-school” PR efforts, the tools behind paid digital and social campaigns provide real-time, detailed metrics reports using key performance indicators (KPIs) as benchmarks. The beauty behind this is we always have hard data available to help continuously improve and optimize campaigns. This is an invaluable tool in ensuring you’re meeting clients’ objectives – and it provides a constant reminder to demonstrate your work’s return on investment with numbers that don’t lie.
Whether through a pitch or an op-ed, earning stories for clients will always be incredibly important. As we continue navigating the voids created by our media landscape, there is an incredible amount of opportunity in developing paid strategies that will make your current and prospective clients stand out from their competition.