Have you ever stopped to think about how you’d promote your business if social media vanished overnight? I know it sounds dramatic, but humour me… Sure, you’d still have your email list and website, but how would you drive traffic and sign-ups without forking out thousands in paid advertising fees?
While it’s unlikely that Instagram will be going anywhere anytime soon, and I’m not suggesting you abandon it, consider this: How good would it feel to stop scrolling and rely less on the mercy of the algorithm?
This is where PR comes in. In simple terms, public relations is managing how others see and feel about a brand or person, and influencing opinions and behaviour through intentional and consistent communication across a variety of channels—though most commonly, through the media. Your socials are part of your owned channels, whereas PR focuses on inserting your key messages into earned channels like the media, which can amplify brand awareness on a mass scale without the hefty price tag.
Here are 5 ways PR can help you rely less on social media.
Visibility beyond the algorithm
If social crashes or you lose access to your account, having a PR strategy in place allows you to continue marketing yourself and staying visible through other channels. Last month, Facebook banned its Australian users from accessing news in their feeds in response to new regulatory laws from the local government, causing a wave of people to boycott the platform and delete their accounts in protest. The tech giant has warned that they may do the same in Canada. While the long-term impact of these restrictions are uncertain, it does spotlight the risk in relying entirely on social media given the lack of control and ownership we have over these platforms.
Unlike an organic social media post that has an average lifetime of 48 hours, articles will continue to show up in search results long past their publication date. As a result, media features about your business become a passive way of supporting your business goals, whether you’re focusing on attracting clients, web traffic, industry partners, speaking opportunities or investors. What’s more, you can reference your press coverage again and again in your marketing, and include media logos on your website as proof of your expertise long after it’s published.
Improved SEO is another passive benefit of digital PR. Most of the time, a journalist is happy to include a link back to your website within their piece, helping you rank higher on search engine results given the trustworthiness of recognisable news sites. You can maximise digital media features by including keywords and core messages in the comments you submit to a reporter, ensuring the final piece drives relevant traffic to your website. Just be mindful not to pack your pitch and interview answers with jargon and overly sales-y language—your goal is to be a helpful source to the media, and shameless self-promotion can undermine your efforts here.
Countless studies show that consumers prefer media and personal recommendations 10:1 over traditional advertising, and I’m sure that rings true for you, too. Consider this: if you were choosing between two near-identical products, but one had been featured in Cosmopolitan, while the other you had never heard of, which one would you choose? Exactly. Media features serve as endorsements for your brand, cementing your credibility within your target audience and establishing you as a thought leader in your industry. Not only does this boost your sales, it also opens doors for brand partnerships, book deals, speaking engagements and investment opportunities.
When Covid-19 panic hit last year and lockdown announcements swept the globe, the news agenda shifted its focus almost entirely, dropping many of unrelated stories. One of my clients nearly lost a CNBC opportunity because the reporter dropped their original angle to cover the impact of the pandemic. Fortunately, the key to effective PR is knowing how to be sensitive and reactive to the news cycle, so we were able to reposition them as a source on how the lockdown would impact their industry. In fact, while many brands were turning off paid ad campaigns as crisis best practice, those that continued to do well leveraged PR to showcase how they were adapting and continuing to serve their customers during an unprecedented and challenging time.
Lastly, PR allows you to own your brand narrative beyond your owned channels because you can be proactive in the types of stories you pitch and the insights you share with reporters. This way, you get to be intentional with how you want to be perceived instead of leaving it up to the media and the public to define your business.
Now that you know why PR is such a crucial part of your marketing strategy, here are 3 easy ways to get started:
- First, get clear on your PR objectives. Take a look at your business goals and think about how PR can support these. Are you looking to attract investors? Drive sales? Your target audience will vary depending on your focus, as will the types of stories you’ll want to pitch to the media. If you’re looking to land speaking opportunities for example, you’ll want to showcase your area of expertise in industry titles as well as more mainstream media.
2. Next, define your areas of expertise and get clear on your key messages. What are you uniquely positioned to speak about and what do you want your business to be known for? Put together a messaging packet for your team to reference so you can stay consistent across all of your communications channels and consult it when pitching the media as well as ahead of any media interviews.
3. Finally, build a media list of journalists that write about topics that are relevant to your area of expertise, and start pitching them your stories! HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and #journorequest on Twitter are great tools to use to get started with your media outreach and also give you insights into what themes are of interest to the media before they make headlines.
Where you can find me
About your author
Maria Eilersen is the founder of Be Conscious PR, a PR coaching and consulting agency that helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs and startups get the recognition they deserve in the media so they can reach millions and make a bigger impact. When she’s not working her PR magic, Maria teaches and practices yoga, which informs her conscious approach to her clients and the media.
You can find out more about Maria and her business here.
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