What PR people do is the most valuable part of marketing. We help create, nurture, and strengthen reputation. We developed powers of storytelling that compel influencers of every stripe to believe our client's narrative was crafted just for them. Oftentimes, they're right.
It's not easy to be pitch-perfect all the time, but in striving to make every single stakeholder feel valued, we PR pros became perfectly suited to lead the social media charge - and that changes everything.
The fact that PR took an early lead in this arena has led to all sorts of unforeseen opportunities. This is all the more obvious as we witness the convergence of media types. Paid, earned, and branded media are up for grabs as never before.
And that's the third epiphany in this three-part series. PR agencies can do anything. The clients now trust us to do so. We can help manage communities. We can create content: infographics…video…even advertisements.
But what follows from the epiphany that “We can do anything” is, “What should we actually do?”
Circle back to the beginning of this post: we boost reputation by motivating media and social influencers, as well as consumers, to say nice things about our clients. That's earned media.
Now picture those “kind words” not as the best part of your weekly client report but as content elements in and of themselves. That New York Times article. That laudatory Facebook post by an influencer. That sweet tweet by a consumer. Each is a content element that you can now package and give exponentially greater scale.
Millions of people might read that New York Times article. But are they the right type of people? Why not ensure that magnificent piece is seen by exactly the right people, by paying for a targeted sponsored stories campaign on Facebook directing users to the article on The New York Times website, versus to the client's website? Yes, you might lose out on capturing X number of additional website visits, but your client can also track the fact that X millions of people clicked the Facebook link and read that reputation-boosting story. You might follow a similar strategy with promoted tweets or syndication. While you're at it, maybe craft an email marketing blitz centered on that New York Times piece – targeting the client's own opt-in list, to validate these subscribers' decision to follow or buy from the company.
See how easily we turned earned media into a powerful hub for both paid promotion and branded outreach?
The key to this approach is the singular focus on leveraging earned media content. In a social media-driven, transparent world, the “creativity for creativity's sake” model of Mad Men-era advertising can't compete with the credible, third-party validation provided by earned media. Leveraged correctly, this content can serve as the launching-off point for every other service we opt to provide in the PR industry's greenfield of the future.
Todd Defren is CEO of Shift Communications.