Making plans for marketing initiatives is always a work in progress. What should you focus on in the coming months?
Uncertainty ruled last year, but now, we have a better idea of how things may look as we continue to get our footing in this new environment created by the pandemic.
So, what trends should we be paying attention to as we work toward creating more compelling content and stories and getting the word out through public relations initiatives?
Consider These Six Points In Your PR and Content Planning
1) Create less content – but of higher quality: We know we need content – but not just ANY content. Instead, we need to produce content that is valuable to our audiences. This is why creating less but better content is an idea catching on.
There’s no place for throwaway content in a world where many are overwhelmed and simply looking for answers to their questions. Communicating clearly about topics your audience is interested in is the way to win them over. Don’t waste their time on content that isn’t meeting their needs.
And while we’re talking about it, think about ALL the ways you can repurpose your content – are you squeezing all the juice you can from each piece you create? Of course, you’ll want to share it on social media, but the possibilities are almost endless. I list a some here in this piece I wrote for Muck Rack, 11 Ways to Squeeze More Value from Your Audio and Video Content.
2) Don’t overlook social media: Speaking of social media, recognize its importance to your marketing. Unfortunately, I still hear clients from time to time devalue social media. Don’t.
“With an entire buying community suddenly working from home and in-person events a remote possibility, B2B marketers had to get a lot more nimble in how they reached buyers,” says AdAge. “One way they did it was by investing more in digital channels like social media and using those channels for things like brand building and empathetic messaging.”
In fact, 70-80% of B2B buyers and decision-makers prefer remote or digital interactions with vendors.
Who else looks at your social media presence? Journalists. According to Muck Rack’s State of Journalism report, 61% of the journalists surveyed say they “usually” or “always” consult branded social media profiles when reporting on an organization.
And your internal audience of employees will also take cues from your social media channels. (We’ll talk more about your internal audience below).
Beyond that, there are lurkers – a lot of them. Those you don’t even know who are looking at your social media feeds without ever engaging. Research shows that while lurkers make up more than half of a company’s social media audience, they account for only 5% of the data captured by social media analytics.
So, be sure to plan and budget accordingly. This report by Gartner suggests allocating 10-25% of your total marketing budget to social media marketing.
3) Build on your land first: Yes, social media platforms are important – but don’t build your house on rented land.
I first heard this from Joe Pulizzi, the Content Marketing Institute founder. It’s proven to be true again and again. MySpace. Google+. Vine. The list of defunct social media platforms goes on.
On this note, LinkedIn has now launched a newsletter feature. Of course, newsletters are a great way to reach your audience – but I wouldn’t start by putting all my eggs in the LinkedIn basket. Not that LinkedIn is going anywhere – but the newsletter feature might.
Instead, start by building your own email list. Begin before you’re even ready to produce a newsletter, so you have a list in place when you launch.
Get that off the ground. Then, if you want, see if there’s a way to repurpose the content on one of the social media platforms through a newsletter or other feature (for example, publishing an article on LinkedIn or Medium).
When we do all our list building on a platform other than one we own, we just never know what may happen. Better for you to control your list than hand it over to an outside entity.
4) Internal misalignment is a growing trend that can derail your efforts: One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen clients face over the past year is internal alignment (or lack thereof). While this has always been an issue, it seems worse right now.
Why is this? I was talking with a colleague recently when it dawned on me that part of what may be driving internal discord is the fact that many have been working remotely. This may lead to poor communication – and eventually to disengagement.
Whether you all work together in one office or not, it’s worth doing what you can to ensure you’re (mostly) on the same page before hiring outside help like a consultant or agency. No one can be successful if the client’s team doesn’t agree on what success looks like. This is something we need to examine more closely in 2022.
I’ve seen many examples this year. Time and again, I start working with a new client only to discover – gasp – they’re not all in agreement on the direction the program should take. The marketing team thinks PR is needed – but the C-Suite isn’t sold. The company brings in PR – but there’s so much turnover in the marketing department, it’s tough to get a toehold. The social media team is off in one silo, while PR is in another. And it goes on and on like this.
“B2B marketers are suffering under the internal issues that have plagued marketing departments for years without being addressed: siloed organization structures, tangled tech stacks, and dated strategies that do not account for the way customers buy today,” says this CMSWire article.
If the internal team isn’t aligned, chances are the effort may fail. So, if you can, do this work before you bring in a consultant or agency.
5) Treat your employees as your most important audience: Communicating internally is as important as externally. On that note, it’s important to remember that your team can also serve as your best cheerleaders. It goes both ways. Treat them well – they’ll sing your praises. Fail to do so, and you may lose them.
Everyone has probably heard about the Big Quit – so if ever there were a time to do what you can to keep your workers happy, it’s now. Since April, some 20 million employees have voluntarily left their jobs.
What can you do to help retain your employees? First, remember that any company news should come directly from you – not from an outside source. That builds trust.
To attract new talent to your company, be sure to share posts about your culture on social media. Think about what you can share that showcases what’s good about working at your company.
Also, consider factoring HR into your digital PR initiatives. Positive HR stories can be included in public relations efforts. Brands treating employees right by offering innovative programs or policies can make great stories to share with journalists and lead to earned media wins.
Forrester goes as far as to say that employer branding is the new marketing frontier. “The writing is on the wall: Brand building in 2022 will be as much about employer branding as it is about traditional consumer marketing,” the article says. Definitely a trend to watch as you make your marketing plans for 2022 and beyond.
6) PR brings value – if you’re ready: More brands are considering focusing on public relations as part of their digital marketing efforts. If yours is one of them, be sure to prepare ahead.
Here’s what to have on hand before you start a PR push. Be sure you have at least the basics in place – or hire a PR consultant to help you prepare what you’ll need.
And not every company is ready to embark on a public relations campaign (see no. 4 above), so ask yourself some questions before you start.
Focus on YOUR Audiences – Both Internal and External
As you plan for 2022, while you want to watch the competition, remember to pay attention to what YOU are doing.
Connect to your audiences – both internally and externally. Tune in to what they need and want. And, remember to show your human side. The most human company wins, as Mark Schaefer says.
Show you care – and mean it. Then, follow through to help solve their problems – and be there for them. That’s where the marketing magic happens.