For ambitious companies seeking to grow revenues and awareness, public relations needs to be more than just a one-trick pony. In fact, the PR discipline should be considered the core, or engine, of creative content across several owned and earned media channels.
Integrating the three main components of the public relations mix—media relations, social media and content marketing—will amplify your brand’s intended goals, getting your message in front of your ideal consumer across multiple platforms and solidifying a call to action.
It is critical to keep your messaging clear and consistent; it should be easy for your targeted audience to consume your content. The flood of information meeting consumers’ ears and eyes means that these outreach efforts should stand out from the crowd in message and creativity.
Let’s take a look at each of these PR channels and examine how they can be best utilized together for maximum results, going above and beyond the usual in a cohesive, creative way. To illustrate how to creatively blend media relations, social media and content marketing in successful PR strategies, we’ll use the example of one of All Points Public Relations’ campaigns for a paint-and-wine concept that has studios across the country.
Secure media that shouts your brand’s personality
The focus of this particular campaign was to clearly distinguish our client as the best night out on the town for ladies’ night, couples spending time together and bachelorette parties.
To accomplish this, we set a focus on earning television placements on morning and noon shows in local markets where the studios are situated. In order to score TV segments, we tapped into the brand’s artists, having them paint portraits of local news anchors. The anchors painted were those that had longstanding relationships with their audiences and were clearly fan favorites for their personalities both on and off the air.
Once the paintings were completed, we alerted the stations that we were going to be dropping off the paintings along with a press packet that included a few segment ideas on a nicely designed pitch sheet. The lesson here? Find a unique way to pitch the media and couple it with creative follow-up and you’re likely to see a payoff over time.
Reinforce the pitch through social media
Painting and coordinating the drop-offs provides us with an opportunity to turn that day of delivery to the station into a social media event.
Beginning the day by tweeting at the news team, station and programs, we raised the level of awareness about the paintings coming to the stations. As a result of that proactive social media communication, the stations retweeted the brand several times.
But we didn’t stop there. Through our media relations efforts, we asked the on-air talent to take a photo with their painted portraits and to post those photos to their personal and station social media pages. We requested that they use our client’s social media handles to tie it back to the company (no specific hashtag since this was part of the media pitching process). We also ensured that the materials we sent were appropriately branded so that a logo or two would appear in every photo. The images of the news talent with their paintings were also repurposed for our own social media uses. Many of these requests were granted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which extended the reach of our efforts dramatically because of their huge followings. They are essentially local celebrities.
This was a great example of an immediate result of the campaign. Even if it took a few weeks to solidify news segments about the uniqueness of paint and wine nights, it takes only seconds to share a photo. In effect, you can turn an entire PR journey into a multimedia experience with an extended lifespan.
Use content marketing to continue the dialogue
Now that you’ve reeled in your customer with targeted earned media and kept their interest with engaging social media, the quality of your brand messaging becomes increasingly vital. “Content marketing” is a loaded phrase and it can come in many shapes and sizes.
In conjunction with our media relations and social media efforts for our paint-and-wine client, we utilize ongoing consumer blogging and storytelling drip email campaigns to further the brand’s reach. These content marketing channels are a fantastic way to take advantage of today’s cost-effective multimedia opportunities to drive brand awareness and SEO. Top-notch writing skills, graphic design know-how, video editing expertise and all-around creativity come together to craft messages that create repeat business and brand equity.
While the idea of blasting out brand messaging to people on an email list is not new, there are ways we’ve found that are more effective than others in engaging the audience. Based on studies that show how people read and digest information, we keep the content short (between 200-300 words), utilize dynamic imagery and break up text with subheads. We have also found that people respond well to statistics, and we link to news articles, research studies or other quantitative information to corroborate our points.
In this example, content marketing proved to be the perfect way to keep an open dialogue going about the best night out on the town. We timed blog posts and emails about the topic with the press and social media efforts. Additionally, we were able to showcase just how hot the topic was with local celebrities. We easily worked in photos, slideshows and videos from the PR campaign into the content marketing. Open rates, clickthroughs and web traffic were all analyzed to judge how the content we created performed. In sum, the results of this type of integrated effort outperformed campaigns done throughout the year that were not integrated by more than 200%.
Our only regret is that we didn’t give the campaign enough prep time. We could have earned more television segments in each market given a less aggressive schedule. Essentially, we needed more portraits painted to use as a key pitching tool for additional media outlets.
Nonetheless, our PR team walked away with three key learnings from the work:
- Always integrate messaging for a campaign across the full scope of PR channels. A new day for PR has arrived and we need to harness the power of press, social and content creation.
- If approached properly, local news celebrities can be turned into ambassadors.
- When all three components of public relations support the intended results, a cohesive message will be created that will generate a compelling brand image.
Jamie Izaks is the president and co-founder of All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-area public relations agency focusing on the franchising industry. He also co-founded the Northern Illinois Franchise Association.