Catherine Warrilow will be speaking at the next BrightonSEO conference on the 22nd of April 2016.
With digital PR and an understanding of the customer journey overtaking traditional PR and brand strategy, the typical broadcast method of public relations is no more – so where do you start in managing an effective PR campaign?
If you start by looking at what has changed over the past few years and why, you can then start understanding the elements of an engaging PR strategy.
PR then vs now.
What this illustrates is a shift in buying behaviours and therefore a shift in the way we communicate with people. Now we look far more closely at the customer experience and all of the important touch points along that journey.
We don’t blanket every journalist in a given sector with the same content. We pick out key individuals within the right niche and exactly the right audience, and we give them content that we know people will engage with and share.
And because we’re all about digital, we have more customer data than ever before. We know so much more about what people want, when and how – and because of social media we can have meaningful two way conversations with our customers – and there are great opportunities to be had from both positive and negative feedback.
PR today is a whole lot more interesting. We’re in a stronger than ever position to give people more of what they want, and less of what they don’t. We can test, measure, refine and rework. We can do quick and effective tests of different strategies, bin what doesn’t work and do more of what does.
In terms of client expectations and satisfaction, we win here too – because we can give a greater level of transparency and clearly demonstrate a return on investment – custom URLs to measure traffic, a direct link to enquiries and bookings – customer engagement, content sharing and online conversations all allow us to measure and demonstrate the value of what we’re doing.
And because our buying habits have changed, the way we consume media has too. Our attention spans have shrunk by about 75% in my opinion and the pace of our lifestyles has increased by about the same percentage. So that lends itself to a totally different way of absorbing information.
As consumers, we make our purchasing decisions faster than ever before. As a PR or digital marketer, this is our opportunity to be a part of that process – giving the right content at the right time in a way that’s easy to digest in a very short amount of time.
When did you last make a decision to buy a games console or a piece of furniture based on advertising alone? Two major things are at play when we want to buy something – and the first often occurs before we even knew we wanted that thing – envy. Secondly, most of us are also guilty of bragging about certain bits of our lives. Whether that’s sporting achievements, Alberta and her violin prowess, or indeed the Buzzcut 360 lawnmower we’ve just invested in – oh those uber straight lines and stately home worthy edges. And now you’ve got one, your mate HAS to have one too. He doesn’t even have a lawn.
So here’s that process in a bit more detail.
Consumer buying patterns today.
PR used to be an influence at a certain point of the buying process, and sometimes in quite an isolated fashion. PR’s now have the opportunity to be engaged and involved in all aspects of that process – right from the point Bob starts to get jealous. From that first Google search, to his browsing of reviews and features online, to seeing what other people are saying on Facebook, right through to expert advice and support in terms of on-site content surrounding the final purchasing decision. This isn’t about retargeting, this is about knowing the customer and securing relevant, timely and trusted editorial content – PR at its finest.
And don’t forget that we can now be involved in the hugely influential stages when Bob gets home and starts playing with his new thing and tells everyone how awesome it is. We can be involved in his reflection and advocacy phase, which all leads to retention and word of mouth.
For the secret Geordie Shore fans out there, you’ll know that Charlotte Crosby recently released and exercise DVD. I believe it’s outsold all of the big players like Davina. It wasn’t on my Christmas list, I’m like Garfield; I like TV and treats, I’m not so much of a work out fan. And traditional media simply didn’t work for the PR of Charlotte’s DVD. A prime time slot on Good Morning Britain had absolutely no impact on sales whatsoever. One tweet from Charlotte, and they’d sold something like 40,000 copies in a matter of days.
Yes Charlotte has an incredible social media following (2.6m on Twitter) but also, that’s where her fans are. They’re not watching Phil and Holly. The reach of mainstream media channels has been rocked by social media and niche titles from expert influencers.
You have to grow your entire strategy around your customers – following their journey and the buying process alone isn’t enough. Do your research into the right sites and publications (and off line still definitely has its place) and if it’s targeted, relevant and trusted, then it’s the right place to be. Careful research and relationship building with the right niche publications is where you have to invest your time.
I heard about a guy who’s an absolute font of all knowledge on washing machine repairs. You’ve never heard of him, or his website, but the chances are if you Google ‘how to fix a Hotpoint washer dryer’, his content comes up and it’s him that has the answer you’re looking for. So ditch the efforts to try and get your latest white goods featured in The Times ‘best buys for busy mums’ and seek this guy out instead.
And that leads me on to my final point – talk about the solution and not just the product. The key to really successful PR comes down to understanding your customer’s pain points. What really rats them out on the way to work? What do they wish for when they get home in the evening? What would make them smile on the tube? And on that note, are they even on the tube, or are they in a car, a taxi, on a bike, a scooter, or one of those hovering things – or are they totally banned now? If you do the PR for those bad boys – you’ve got a job on your hands – but every challenge is an opportunity to do something very, very cool in my opinion.
Anyway, that’s it for now. See you in April at Brighton SEO. I’m the short one who can often look like a school child wanting to be allowed in by the cool kids. So be nice.