How Social Media, Content Marketing And Paid Media Ads Are Changing PR
Cast your mind back 20 or even 25 years and think about how public relations (PR) teams were connecting with journalists. Those old enough to remember may have fond memories of Rolodex files stacked with business cards and covered in personal notes. Those who were just starting out in the industry at the time may recall assembling hard-copy press kits or faxing press releases to the media.
Since then, some aspects of public relations have changed forever. Social media, content marketing and paid media advertising are three of the main drivers behind the transformation. All three have altered the way brands relate to their audiences. They have opened up new channels for PR teams to reach out, provided options for sharing expertise and blurred the lines between advertising and media relations.
The Role Of Social Media In PR
Public relations have always focused on relationship-building, both between brands and the media and brands and customers. Social media has given PR professionals less formal and more direct access to both journalists and consumers.
Connecting PR Teams And Journalists
Consider this—sending a press release through a fax machine was used to deliver the information to the media outlet, but it did little for relationship-building. The latter relied on private meetings, emails or phone calls. Making that phone call to a journalist required insight into their schedule to know when would be a good time to “disturb” them.
PR professionals who built those relationships were rewarded with outstanding coverage for the brands they represented. Social media channels have made it easier for PR pros to connect to journalists. Tagging someone in a tweet or replying to a post are only two ways that create a connection without disrupting a journalist’s day.
Connecting Brands And Consumers
Social media has also enabled brands to reach out to potential customers directly through the brand’s own platforms. But social media platforms are not only tools to “talk” to brand audiences. They also lend themselves to social listening: By following relevant social media accounts, brands can learn which topics are being hotly discussed.
Social media and PR are strongest when they connect brands with consumers and the media at the same time. One such example is Dove’s long-running “real beauty” campaign. The campaign uses real women to showcase products rather than professional models. It emphasizes the company’s view that every woman is beautiful and helps increase inclusivity in the beauty industry. A more recent spin-off, Dove’s #ShowUs, is making use of hashtags and social media platforms to encourage more brands to use real women in their campaigns. Since its inception, the brand’s commitment to inclusivity has simultaneously generated media coverage and built connections with real consumers.
The Power Of Content Marketing In PR
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that is centered around creating “valuable, relevant, and consistent content” for a brand’s audience. Within the realm of public relations, content marketing helps PR professionals establish themselves or their clients as thought leaders by sharing insights on their own blogs. Regular contributions to well-regarded publications can work equally well.
The key to successful content marketing lies in the usefulness of the content. Content marketing is less focused on directly encouraging a sale. Instead, blogs and other pieces build trust between the blogger and the audience, eventually positioning the blogger as an expert.
Staying within marketing and PR, HubSpot is a great example of this. HubSpot is a customer relationship management platform. The company sells a software product aimed at marketers and sales teams, among others. However, their marketing blog is renowned for delivering useful insights for professionals, including industry statistics, best practice guides and clear explanations of emerging strategies and tactics. It excels at delivering value.
Delivering such value to readers encourages content sharing. A blog article that resonates with its readers and is considered valuable is more likely to be shared and reach a wider audience. This initial act of sharing is the beginning of content marketing going viral.
The Benefits Of Paid Media Advertising And PR
PR and advertising may be different, but both fields are closely related. In most cases, it tends to take longer to establish momentum with a PR campaign because of the time needed to build relationships and establish trust.
That is when paid advertising can close a gap, providing instant brand exposure while PR work continues. Both display and social media advertising can help PR professionals reach wider audiences and deliver messages effectively, without being filtered through a media outlet.
Fitness company Peloton is a good example here. Originally known for manufacturing indoor cycling equipment, the company used Apple search ads to promote its fitness app and reposition the brand as a full fitness company. The paid advertising campaign resulted in a 2.5-times increase in downloads.
Integrating The Triumphant Trio Into Public Relations
Social media, content marketing and paid media advertising have the biggest effect on public relations when all four components are integrated with each other.
How can PR professionals achieve that? Start by planning marketing and PR strategies with integration in mind. Not everything will always be 100% sharable, but creating a content calendar that covers both blog articles and social media channels will help extend the reach of both.
Creating social media connections with external, reputable blogging platforms supports both a brand’s content marketing and its social media strategy. Building paid media advertising messages around the topics featured in your brand’s content marketing builds consistency and brand recognition.
By following these guidelines, all three elements can support your brand’s PR campaigns.
There is no doubt that digital technology has changed PR. However, PR is still a business based on relationships. Technology has changed the way these relationships are built, but it has not diminished their importance. Social media, content marketing and paid advertising can all help strengthen and expand those relationships.