As we’re already wrapping up the first quarter of 2019, it would be a good idea to take a quick look at what the forthcoming three quarters may have in store for PR.
With the advancement of technology, many old-school PR practices have lost their edge.
In the marketing and advertising industry, things change quickly and it’s important to keep pace with the latest trends because that’s exactly what your competitors will be doing.
Here are four tactics expected to reign supreme throughout 2019 which will help you nail your PR strategy and boost your brand awareness.
The Rise of the Micro-Influencer
Today, 92% of people are more inclined to trust recommendations from others over branded messaging. This fact catapulted influencer marketing into the stratosphere and turned it into one of the most powerful promotional tactics.
Word of mouth has always been one of the most effective ways of expanding your reach and bringing qualified traffic to your website, and influencers can further supercharge it.
The most liked Instagram post in 2016 was a photo of Selena Gomez which she did for the Coca-Cola campaign “Share a Coke and a Song”. Actually, it was the most liked Instagram post ever, until the pop star was dethroned by Kylie Jenner and the first photo of her daughter which garnered 18 million likes.
These two examples illustrate the power potential influencers wield when it comes to shaping public opinion. But this kind of promotion comes with a hefty price tag which means that many startups and SMBs can’t afford it.
Luckily, there is a sub-category of influencers referred to as micro-influencers. These are experts, bloggers, and thought leaders from your niche, who are more approachable and cost-effective than those fancy A-list celebrities.
We’re talking about people who made it in the real world and are willing to share their experience and expertise with their audience. Unlike those big shots who boast millions of followers, micro-influencers have between 5,000 and 25,000 followers.
But what makes their influence so powerful is the fact that their following is extremely loyal and very engaged, which means that if you team up with them, your pitch can hit the right tone with their audience and voilà – you’ll witness a huge surge in qualified traffic and a boost in brand awareness, both of which will significantly affect your bottom line.
Tap Into Authenticity
People are fed up with old-fashioned salesy and blatant pitches. They just won’t have it anymore.
What they want is a profound and meaningful relationship with the brand they like.
Creating a narrative and developing a story around your brand is critical, and the same applies to your PR strategy.
The point is to ditch your highly-branded content and transform it into more authentic messaging. The first step towards achieving this is by understanding your target audience, as well as their issues, and needs. Make sure to address the things that are important to them, from their point of view, and say it in their language and the right tone of voice.
Dove managed to put all this into practice with its Real Beauty campaign which had the goal of empowering women and helping them be confident about their looks. The whole imagery revolved around real people and their experiences. To accentuate the authenticity of the whole approach, the brand didn’t use professional models but regular women, which made the campaign completely relatable.
Another way of achieving authenticity is with the help of social proof, which is one of the principles which Robert Cialdini named as being indispensable to the success of PR. According to him, any brand can heavily benefit from encouraging its customers to share its content and engage in direct, two-way communication.
This also refers to customer reviews, which can generate a ton of great PR. Don’t worry about the occasional bad comments and reviews because they only make user-generated content, or UGC, more believable and trustworthy. As a matter of fact, 67% of B2B customers want to see a mix of good and bad reviews when they’re making their purchasing decision. Instead of tarnishing your reputation, bad feedback tells your customers that no doctoring took place.
Align Your PR with SEO
Reputation is everything.
This corny phrase applies to both public relations and SEO.
Search engine optimization is essential for improving the overall visibility of your brand, and it heavily relies on building your online reputation. It can help you put the right message in front of the right people thus amplifying the impact of any other marketing strategy you use.
The truth is, you can achieve the best results only if you leverage the holy trinity of digital marketing – SEO, content marketing, and PR, and make the most of their synergy.
Earned media placements require relevant keywords too in order for the target audience to find them. This way, a press release or any other type of PR content in which your brand is mentioned is more likely to appear in relevant search results.
Apart from using keywords, the trick is to build links, that is, to get authority sources to link to your website. That’s a surefire way to boost your rankings, as Google treats backlinks as a ranking factor and tracks how many links from respectable websites point to your website. This metric indicates whether your content is trustworthy or not, and so in general, the more the merrier.
These two tactics, in particular, can shoot your content to the top of the SERPs and bring you much-needed traffic as the first page of Google search results scoops 92% of all traffic.
But, you can’t do all this by creating self-aggrandizing press releases which nobody wants to share or mention. Instead of that, focus on crafting pieces that actually add value to your readers by using newsworthy information and interesting facts.
While all this might sound pretty straightforward, it’s actually a demanding and time-consuming process, which is why you should consider leaving it to professionals. Browse through this list of renowned digital marketing agencies, and outsource your digital marketing efforts for the best results.
AI Meets PR
Artificial intelligence and its various subsets, such as machine learning (ML) or natural language processing (NLP), have found their way into all industries and PR is no exception.
But many PR specialists are afraid that AI will render them useless and steal their jobs. The truth is that although this sophisticated technology can pick up the slack and perform numerous repetitive and time-consuming tasks, it still needs human interference when it comes to creativity, establishing rapport, incorporating empathy, and achieving that aforementioned level of authenticity. And it’s safe to say that these are the pillars of effective PR.
In fact, AI can make your job much easier by:
- Helping you create targeted and timely campaigns. When to start a campaign? Which subject line to pick? What influencers and journalists should be approached? What facts and data should be used for a particular audience? Al can give answers to all these questions by processing huge amounts of valuable data.
- Eliminating human errors from everyday tasks such as scheduling dates, creating Gantt charts, or launching follow-ups. People are prone to mistakes, and no matter how hard they try, it’s impossible to completely prevent slips and blunders from happening. On the other hand, machine intelligence performs impeccably and seamlessly, thus preventing delays and frustration.
- Building accurate buyer personas. One of the most important factors in PR is determining what your target audience thinks and wants. AI collects, processes, and organizes customer data and provides you with ready-to-use information about your target audience’s personal and purchasing habits, preferred channels of communication, the types of content they like, and most importantly, what their chief pain points are.
- Analyzing data thus allowing you to create useful and relevant content which will resonate with your audience, as well as determining how to target every individual segment with the most effective piece of content.
- Predicting potential reputation crisis with the help of social listening and other crucial determinants. This will give you time to prepare and address such issues properly before they snowball and get out of control.
The PR landscape is evolving even as we speak, and if you want to stay relevant you need to start using these 4 tactics.
Nina is a technical researcher & writer at DesignRush, a B2B marketplace connecting brands with agencies. She loves to share her experiences and meaningful content that educates and inspires people. Her main interests are web design and marketing. In her free time, when she’s away from the computer, she likes to do yoga and ride a bike. You can find her on Twitter.