- Get rid of the one-size-fits-all pitch. Don’t assume journalists are waiting for your fill-in-the-blank releases without requesting them. As an experienced journalist and blogger, let me tell you that they feel like spam and get deleted as soon as they appear in my inbox. (Check out the views of Social Media Explorer’s Jason Falls on email pitches.) Only use your old-fashioned press pitches for regulatory reporting reasons.
- Build a social media following. Engage on a variety of social media platforms and expand your circle of acquaintances. Connect with family, friends and business colleagues. Actively participate in the conversation, such as Twitter chats and Meetups. Your goal is to have a base of followers and associates who can help you spread your message when needed. Remember, social media is a two way street where reciprocity matters. For example, Ford’s Scott Monty was able to diffuse a potential PR crisis because he had a large Twitter following and he sent 138 tweets in one day.
- Become a go-to resource. Take a page from Peter Shankman, founder of Help-A-Reporter, and help get journalists the information they’re seeking and introduce them to other resources, even if they’re not your client. Leverage your social media contacts to help journalists and get them a bit of press. Be succinct and to the point. When I need information, I have a set of contacts I go to and they turn around my requests with lightening speed.
- Forget the “Oprah or Bust” approach to media attention. Don’t just focus on getting a mention on major television talk or news shows. Expand your media horizons. Plant lots of smaller stories to build word of mouth and don’t underestimate your story’s ability to have legs. Think in terms of getting exposure to new audiences. Consider adding a blog to your organization’s content mix to create your own media entity and following. Additionally, use social media news matchmaker Help-A-Reporter. It’s a free, thrice daily emailing containing media requests. Use it for yourself and your clients.
- Add to the action. Leverage hot topics and current trends to create related hooks for your clients. These stories can be used on your blog and Facebook as well as by journalists who are always looking for new angles.David Meerman Scott calls this newsjacking. You can publish these stories on your own blog as well as third party media sites.
- Intrigue people with your story. Build an irresistible story around your product or business. Then seek opportunities to share your tale and extend the narrative. Understand what pulls your target audience into your message. Share different variations of your tale on your blog, Tumblr or Facebook. For example, the Woods Hole Inn created a blog about their red chair’s travels across different inns on Cape Cod making it a ready-made local news story.
- Engage with the press on social media. Many established media outlets both online and offline use a combination of blogs, Facebook and Twitter to connect with readers and viewers. Use these outlets to engage directly on topics of interest to your business and connect with the journalist in the form of following them on Twitter and commenting on their blog posts.
- Get into the picture. With the meteoric rise of photographic sites like Pinterest and Instagram, consider how you can get your business, client or product in the picture. Use photographs of your product to intrigue prospects and customers. Also, get your customers involved by having them send in their images. A number of news sites like the Weather Channel display viewers’ videos and photographs.
- Do their work for them. Another way to leverage the media’s audience is to write guest blog posts. This works well for blogs in your category as well as for some media sites that solicit guest posts. Understand that you must supply the guest blog post in return for being exposed to the blog’s audience and getting a link back to your website. When contacting a blogger, make sure you check whether they have guest post policies before sending them your story.
- Test new social media platforms. Find ways to get your client featured in different forums. Social media options include being a guest on a Twitter chat, creating a video interview, and uploading your latest presentation. Don’t underestimate the value of emerging social media platforms. This works very well for smaller companies that are willing to take more risks. For example, Exude lipstick tested a photo spread using social commerce site, Svpply.
Social. Mobile. Visual.
As founder Pete Cashmore says: “Social networks have evolved beyond personal updates to become venues for news discovery.” In his business, failure to be social, mobile and visual would be a recipe for failure in the super-competitive global media marketplace.
Mashable: more social, mobile,visual
As soon as I saw it, I knew Mashable’s tagline would form part of my 2013 PR trends to watch.Mashable struck the perfect chord for media, as a “social business”, and in staking out its positioning for the future.
No better statement for public relations professionals to embrace in 2013 too.
PR as Social Business
Our profession has already become a social business. In his New Year’s message, Toronto PR agency CEO Joe Thornley says we must be prepared to reinvent ourselves constantly. He reflects on the changes at his agency:
“Today, only about half of Thornley Fallis’ revenues are from what would have been considered traditional public relations services. The other half? Video production, public engagement, content marketing, design and development.”
“You’ve probably noticed the absence of social media from that list. Where’s social? Integrated across everything we do. What was hot a few years ago has become simply the common entry fee.”
This is the year that PR people will prove their value by helping their organizations or clients evolved into social businesses.
Mobile Forces Constant Change
Mobile will continue as a powerful force in the New Year. Its influence is far-reaching in every business including PR. Last year, we ensured our messages and content were visible on smartphones. We recognized our content had to be laser-targeted, shorter, more scannable. Suitable for the “many screens” consumer.
This year, watch for new power apps. Designed to increase your efficiency and productivity. Look for continued growth in mobile phone usage for everything from banking, payments, web search and more. You may want to create your own app but only if it has real value and you keep the marketing department’s hands off. And, your mobile content better include visuals and video. Which leads me to my next trend.
Carlos Santana live at Montreux 2011
Videos Rock, Visuals Roll
YouTube is now the second largest search engine world. Organizations from IKEA to Home Depot, charitable organizations to sports teams, have embraced video. Spending on it in the marketing mix is growing quickly for one simple reason. Results.
Most PR people have expertise in video or know how to direct it or buy it. Big budgets and high production values are not yet a barrier to entry. Creativity, storytelling and focus matter the most. This is the year to use it or lose it.
Visuals will be even more important this year than last. We know visuals double or even quadruple news release pickup for example. On a cell phone, in the marketing mix, in news or social media, visuals are critical for impact.
Look no further than Pinterest, Instagram, Slideshare and other visual social media channels for new opportunities and ways to extend your reach.
Two Final PR Trends to Watch
Storytelling and content marketing will drive and complement most of our communications in the future. Storytelling instead of “story selling” will assume huge value for its ability to engage, retain and motivate audiences. Content marketing has become hugely popular. It’s a marketing buzzword and our challenge this year is not only to break through but to differentiate ourselves from the “marketers.”
You know the type? The screamers and yellers. I call them the Sham Wow charlatans. With every new technology or shiny new social media they arrive soon after the earlier adopters. Barking and scamming their way while the rest of us run in the other direction.
We’ll win by making our storytelling so compelling and our content marketing so effective, they’ll be left in the dust behind us.
Want Social PR Results? Integration Rules
My final and most important trend is integration. That’s where we can add value most as PR and marketing communication pros. Management and clients are frustrated with a lack of ROI on social media spending. Integrators will be critical to success.
Coordinate your social media efforts. Force your marketing partners to listen and then respond. Lead by listening and showing how social media monitoring is critical to research. Gear up for quick response.
Yes, you’ll need to listen, engage, interact, talk, tweet, like, pin, tell stories and take action. You’ll win by managing and integrating traditional PR tools, experience and strategic thinking into your social business. Most important of all, help your organization or clients stay on the path to becoming a social business.
That’s not just a trend for 2013. It’s a reality for business and organizational survival and success in the future.
Resource: The PRCoach Blog. Referred 20.4.2013. http://www.theprcoach.com/five-social-pr-trends-to-watch-in-2013/
Here’s a peek at what we see coming down the road in terms of small business marketing:
SMARTER SOCIAL MEDIA
The last few years have been all about every business feeling obligated to create a dynamic presence on every social media platform. Now that we’re getting the idea that the set of hot social media sites is never going to be a static group, that there will always be the hot social media outlet du jour, the idea that we should all feel pressed to utilize and engage on every available front is not only unreasonable, it’s a strategy that could only lead to depressingly disparate engagement. Instead, we believe 2013 will be the year that small businesses become confident and adept enough at social media integration to pick the specific platforms that make the most sense for their business. The reality is not all social media sources are perfectly suited to every industry. This year businesses should decide which platforms are the most worthwhile places to reach their audience, thus hopefully seeing greater returns as a result.
SIMPLICITY WILL REIGN SUPREME
Maybe it was “Gangnam Style” that pushed us over the edge of overstimulation, however as we embark upon a new year, the overwhelming feeling among consumers is one of exhaustion. There is a sense that from the hyper-connectivity of our highly-digitized lives to the bright, flashy, complicated sensory input we’re fed everyday, there is no way to continue at this pace. As a result, 2013 is likely to be a year where the most successful marketing strategies will be ones that are not only simple in nature, but promote goods and services that serve to simplify the consumer’s life, or even just their customer experience.
CAMPAIGN-BASED MARKETING WILL TAKE A BREAK
As a marketing strategy, campaigns are great…in theory. The problem with focusing on a tactic that involves a set group of marketing activities and processes centered around one theme is that it operates on a company-based timeline. Inherently, this neglects to account for the timeline of the customer, which is, at this point, almost entirely real time. Up until now, companies have been progressively integrating social media and real time customer engagement as a supplement to campaign-based marketing. We think that from here on out, real time marketing, through social media and websites, will be the focus. We are excited to see what inspired strategies come about.
MARKETING WILL BE MORE TIED TO REVENUE GENERATION
We were fairly surprised to read a recent study by Fournaise Marketing Group that cited 73% of executives do not believe that marketing significantly ties to creating revenue. This is not great logic; 2013 will be the year everyone catches up. Instead of just measuring lead generation, marketing’s worth to a company will start being weighed against sales growth. This could entirely change marketing’s key performance indicators, which, ideally, will lead to a more effective marketing department altogether.
Last year, more people purchased smartphones than PCs. Seriously. While it feels like we hear the word “mobile” more than our own names these days, global marketers haven’t entirely caught up; 90% of them have a mobile site, but only 20% include mobile strategies as a fully integrated part of their overall marketing plan. If nothing else on this list comes to fruition, count on “mobile” being a bigger, bolder line item on every major marketer’s strategy this year.
Resource: Forbes Magazine. Referred 20.4.2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/thesba/2013/01/23/5-surprising-marketing-trends-for-2013/