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Five critical topics that public relations and marketing communicators need to know about and be adept at leveraging are content marketing, optimising online real estate for search, the value of 3RD party brand advocates, the subtleties of media relations and evaluation and measurement. This post touches on all five, referring you to some excellent PR and marketing bloggers who have recently explored these issues.

Public relations and marketing insights and tips

We’re lucky these days. The internet is a university. And some of the best lecturers (practicing professionals, academics and their hybrid sisters) in the world have blogs, which is where I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about not just social media, but a range of public relations, marketing and business issues. It is incredible just how much you can learn from great blogs and, underpinning that, how generous people are to provide their insights and advice.

One of these blogs’ best characteristics is that they cut to the chase. They’re pithy. You get some theory but so do you get the cold, hard, slap-in-the-face and here-and-now of what matters and what you need to do about it.

Content is king ipso facto content marketing is NOW

Content management and its nimble sibling, content curation, are the new marketing central. In this online-centred world with its reliance on search, its appetite for quality content and its proclivity to send it viral, quality content and its intelligent leveraging is almost unspeakably important for marketing and public relations.

And, partly because of the sheer NOISE of all this online activity, this means that thought leadership, value and insightfulness – and let’s not forget HUMOUR – are more valued than ever before.

One set of content management stats = this:

  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement
  • 70% say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company
  • 60% say that company content helps them make better product.

So that’s two posts I’ve flagged with only one promised. But the real point I want to make is encapsulated in the issue of where does content marketing belong in the social business? Now, this is an entirely valid question but, more importantly in my view:

What business cannot afford to be social, when so much of the conversation about it will be online?

The question of where does content marketing belong, however, is articulately explored in the conversionation post linked to above. One upshot is that if you have no single person or business unit coordinating content generation and utilisation, you do so at your peril:

  • Content may not appear
  • It may be shoddy and reek of a lack of professionalism and care
  • Different elements may contradict each other, either in a specific tactical sense or an organisational branding sense.

In any of these cases: disaster.

Being a winner at getting targeted traffic for your blog or website

A post was published recently on Problogger by marketer Eric Enge that I consider one of the most important marketing/PR posts ever written. That sounds like hyperbole, but I’m sincere.

The reason it is the most important is that it provides an easy to understand explanation of long tail keywords and how to leverage them on blogs, websites etc. it is important because:

  • as we now know, the internet is the number one source of information, after word-of-mouth (in fact, it’s often another version of word-of-mouth, but let’s not go there just now…), for many, many people
  • searches/Googles for the most searched for keyword terms are extremely competitive, so being strategic about how we articulate content on our sites (i.e. the application of keywords) is absolutely stone-cold imperative
  • the use of long tail keywords means that we will be able to funnel the most targeted, relevant search queries to our online real estate (and please remember, identifying target audiences as opposed to those who are generally irrelevant is crucial for effective marcomms).

Eric talks about Google Adwords keyword tool as the baby to use, but Google’s Wonder Wheel is another fun and very useful tool to consider utilising as well – both free!

And if you’re a B2B marketer or PR professional, don’t think long tail is not for you. In fact, I think the incredible specificity of much of B2B marketing makes long tail even more valuable.

PR and marketing needs to identify, cultivate and harness the power of 3rd party advocates

3rd party credibility is a fundamental strategic approach that excellent PR and marketing uses. It works well with thought leadership, in fact. This is because not all thought leadership needs to come specifically from the organisation that wants to leverage off the goodwill and brand impetus 3rd party credibility delivers.

Using a non-organisational employee to deliver thought leadership that the organisation benefits from is a subtle form of brand advocacy. But there are other reasons why your company should use brand advocates:

  • They create lots of content
  • They are influencers
  • They talk a lot!
  • They use social media a lot
  • They care about their own reputation and like to share and influence
  • They are loyal to brands they love/like/respect/ have a personal ‘thing’ with…

3rd party credibility, thought leadership and brand advocacy are not the sole property of online communication, either. They are relevant to the entire big, wide world of marketing and PR.

Are your assumptions about media relations in PR on the money?

In a recently syndicated post, public relations and communication pro Greg Matusky explored five media myths that he believes apply to many public relations and marketing professionals.

  • Sometimes it’s actually okay to say ‘no comment’. The main message here being don’t interact with the media solely on their terms. Organisational imperatives are important, too
  • The media can play dirty. They cannot always be trusted. Don’t take them on their word unless you have good reason to
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Query a journalist on their rationale for the story. It might actually help to provide them with information that suits the needs of both the journo and your organisation
  • You can negotiate with the media. If you don’t try, then you’re leaving options and opportunities unexplored
  • Media can sometimes surprise you by taking a perspective or running a story that logic doesn’t always tell you they will. It goes back to the section on content noted above. Have you got the content and rationale to convince?

For mine, another myth you can also add is that a PR media relations pro needs to have a network of journalists to get good media placement. Rubbish. The main element a PR pro needs for this is decent content, insights, thought leadership, POD in perspectives.

It is simply not necessary to have a journalist relationship that requires them to be a Facebook friend, to be going to each others’ kids bar mitzvahs or to have season tickets to the same sporting teams. Relationships, of course, help. But how do you think the PR pro-journalist thing became a useful relationship in the first place?

Because the journalist was consistently provided with quality content, customised to their needs with probably a little bit of ‘exclusivity’ icing on top.

Why we don’t need to measure PR

Measuring the impact of business activity, and oh yes that includes PR and marketing, is somewhat of a no-brainer for any pro that is serious about their work having an impact. How else can you tell whether your work is achieving meaningful, business-relevant outcomes?

Determining what those objectives should be is one thing, but taking an arch-eyebrowed contrary view, Sean Williams argues that sometimes, well, you don’t need to measure PR. Sean says don’t do measurement when:

  • you’ve been flickpassed a dodo. No matter what you do it won’t make a difference
  • your organisation isn’t going to change or do anything to meet stakeholders’ needs and wants. Clearly, stakeholders are going to crucify you. All you can do is hand them the hammer and nails and grimace politely whilst they are put to use
  • the cost of measuring exceeds the cost of the program or work you are measuring. Time to take a punt on the impact. Or talk to a few of the target audience. Measurement for the price of a pint. There are worse ways to do business…

On the other hand, do measurement when:

  • you care about the program’s results. Really care. You might even depend on the results for your own organisation’s or your own (i.e. Le job) existence
  • you know you need to change and data is the way to convince the purse-wielding powers that be
  • you want insights and information to speak confidently and persuasively on your key issue(s).

What are your thoughts on the propositions put forward by each of these five (plus) posts? What is missing from the arguments put forward? Should there be another topic included? Is there anything here which has challenged your own perceptions of what we need to prioritise and implement?

PS: I’d welcome you joining my 1,500-strong LinkedIn network (send me an invite!) or interacting with me through Twitter. You can also learn more about my PR and marcomms business through my About page.