On Oct 9, 2014 Vocus and Cision hosted the “Future of PR Conference” at Google headquarters featuring a panel of brand practitioners who debated what PR will look like in the future. The debate centered around using new media tools like those offered by Vocus or Cision, to drive media pick up versus inspiring media via valuable content through social media channels. Here’s a link to an article about it entitled, “The Wild Future of PR” written by blogger Geoff Livingston. At the end of his blog, Livingston invited readers to write about our wild predictions for the future of PR. MarCom New Media has responded below.
In our integrated marketing and PR practice at MarCom, I have found that there was a lull in PR and media response for several years about eight years ago when SEO was going mainstream, and while social media took off. As the economy declined, and the traditional media was getting re-adjusted to online outlets, editors were moving around or being let go, so they were not paying much attention to PR practitioners. Of course the big companies, big advertisers with big PR budgets still made waves, and got attention, but for a number of years it was tough for small businesses.
During the last three years, things have changed and the media has settled in after layoffs, cutbacks and the shift to online outlets. With media databases like Vocus and Cision adding social media and online channels, marketers now have so many more ways to reach them with our client’s stories. And we are finding that the media really want and need ideas, news and topics. The issue is that “no news” won’t be picked up, while “real news” has a shot. The press also like images and videos. We elicited some solid press coverage from this press release posted on PR Web – The Plan Collection Introduces 3D Printing of House Plans.
What’s more, the Wall Street Journal is a tough nut to crack when it comes to getting small business clients stories – but in March 2013, we send out a press release for client for the same client and got this excellent roundup piece entitled, “The Growing Popularity of Online Luxury Home Plans.”
Integrating pitches and news into social media helps. Recently I even got one client an interview via contacting an editor in my Linked In list. It is all about knowing how to approach the media and adding videos, content, doing best practices SEO, and making sure it is authentic and well written.
All the speakers at the Google conference agreed that there is dwindling power of the media today and they discussed how PR is more than just having media contacts and doing media relations today because PR practitioners are garnering media coverage via other more unconventional methods such as SEO, social media, and simply by posting good authentic content. At MarCom we write solid blog content for our clients such as: HousePlans 101, or my Herbalix organic skin care blog.
One of the other speakers, John Earnhardt, director of corporate communications at Cisco said, “PR people can’t get away with just media relations anymore … you have to know social media. Basic video editing skills are the new editing skills of the future.”
MarCom has been successfully producing video content for clients for the last decade to accompany our search engine optimization (SEO) and PR tactics. Our results are outstanding, often driving website visitors and revenues as much as triple, as you can see in our MarCom SEO Case Histories. Today SEO is no longer about “keywords” but it is about driving content, visitors, conversions and sales.
“Influencers” and “stakeholder groups” were other buzz words discussed on the panel. As far as we are concerned, this is basically what we used to call niche vertical target groups. In every industry there is a niche core group of influencers.
Our client KOREBALL learned this when most of the media who picked up on their niche product, a portable kettlebell that is great for travel, were fitness or travel editor. But we did also get a piece for them in an unexpected publication – Better Homes and Gardens. Interestingly, we used the Cision media database to search for editors AND their social media information. MarCom managed PR for this client, while we recommended they keep doing the social media on their own to save money, but with our guidance for best practices. Because Cision also lists the editors’ Twitter, Facebook and Linked In social media info, we gave this data to the client who added the media contacts to her social efforts. KOREBALL got responses from them too.
After a year with increasing rankings for their SEO on google, the PR Media placements we have obtained for them include these highlights, and many others:
The Plain Dealer, Dayton Daily News, Muscle & Fitness Magazine, KTLA-TV, Men’s Fitness, Too Tall Fritz , Magazine Germany, Good Morning San Diego, KTLA-TV with Bruce Peckman, Inside Fitness and many others.
Soon we’ll see OXYGEN and Self magazines. Another thing to remember is that long lead print media can take up to five or six months to publish AFTER we pitch them, while online media is published more immediately.
Panalist Dennis Goedegebuure said he believes in targeting search in both the search engines and social networks, and talked about how his company Airbnd produces stories and uses SEO for media results, so journalists as well as customers can find the content. They also use image search to drive traffic.
We agree. MarCom has found that for another client, The Plan Collection, Pinterest drives traffic and some sales. The only challenge for this tactics is that SEO is taking longer and longer – as much as up to three or four months for a new client to be noticed. But once noticed, this is an excellent strategy. He added, “Google helps people find things and journalists are looking for things. Search is an incredible way to drive earned media.”
Just a few other tactics that were mentioned by panelists at the conference include:
• Use content that sites research and statistics. MarCom puts statistical one-sheets into almost every client’s press kit.
• Do events to garner attention. Go direct to smaller groups of influencers and audiences. If you have the budget, this is a great way to go.
• Work with former editors/reporters. MarCom has technology journalist David Coursey on our team who has worked for industry giants Intuit, Microsoft, Intel, HP, and Trend Micro, as well as startups like yap.TV, Adap.tv and others.
• Social Media Marketing is time consuming when it is done correctly, as we cover in a related blog about Social Media Best Practices.
In the end, each and every company is unique. MarCom spends more time customizing a creative program for each of our clients. SEO tactics change rapidly throughout a year – often requiring tweaks every couple of months – as described in our article entitles, Successful Search Engine Optimization, Integrated Marketing and PR Strategies. None of the work we do at MarCom is cookie-cutter – and it takes us some time to get to know our client’s and their businesses, the competition, how audiences respond. We have had most of our clients for more than five years each. Integrated marketing is no longer just PR, or advertising, or marketing – separately. Today’s strategies are integrated. It is the cost of doing business today, and companies need to allocate at least 10 to 15 percent of their revenues to do it right, measure the results and reap the rewards of increased customers and sales.
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