How you tell your brand’s story is critical to driving interest in your company and solutions among prospects, customers and key influencers. Branding today involves a multifaceted approach, where marketing and public relations efforts work hand in hand, and the content generated by major brands is more diverse. Finding innovative ways to reinforce your message across digital, social and offline channels is critical to reaching new audiences and gaining the third party credibility needed for the brand.
Visibility and Awareness are Essential in Driving Bottom Line Growth
Revenue and lead generation are key priorities for large companies, and these late buying stage metrics are typically assigned to marketing or sales. However, earlier portions of the customer journey, such as awareness and visibility, that public relations and corporate communications focuses on can also be tied to increased web traffic, lead scores, conversion rates and more. By the time a buyer contacts a company, they have already made important decisions, such as eliminating competing vendors from consideration, based on their own research. Ensuring that your brand is the “winner” after the research phase depends on how easily the buyer can find relevant information about your products or services during the discovery phase of the buy cycle.
Product marketers are tasked with creating more and more content, but many organizations struggle to create an effective content marketing model. According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, only 38% of B2B marketers say their content marketing efforts are effective. Using PR best practices can help inform and influence the decisions along the purchase path through tactics such as:
Producing content buyers want to consume and share. Wrapping a compelling narrative around your product or service to deliver a message that aligns with the customer’s problem can produce the results that companies need—if the message effectively reaches the audience.
Producing valuable content consistently. When a prospect is in the discovery phase, they are exposed to a broad spectrum of information. Given the endless stream of information being produced and shared online, consistency is imperative for making sure your message isn’t lost in the noise. Press releases, blog posts, social updates, articles and press kits are all forms of content that can help foster an external dialogue around your business.
Distribute content across channels to increase the visibility of your brand. Regardless of how great your content is, it won’t make an impact if audiences don’t see it. Awareness is where interest starts which develops into interest. Interest develops into action and actions become purchases.
Innovative Approach: Bring the Auto Show to Enthusiasts Who Couldn’t Attend
The appetite for visual news, and the significantly expanded digital news market has created more visibility opportunities for brands who think beyond traditional forms of content. For example, a major automotive manufacturer expanded their brand presence through unconventional marketing to reach car enthusiasts who could not attend the North American International Auto Show.
Due to a lack of time and resources in-house, they developed a strategic partnership with PR Newswire’s award-winning multimedia production, distribution and media strategy group, MultiVu, to create b-roll footage of vehicle unveilings from the show floor and plan satellite media tours and interviews with press on-site. The video and audio footage was then repackaged for distribution to niche markets using fully branded microsites, resulting in additional earned media coverage and social media engagement.
Conventional wisdom says that the news value of an announcement declines after a day or so, but changes in how people find and consume information has given press releases and other content a longer life-span. Before mobile and social channels revolutionized the industry, a typical communications plan would have announced the brand’s presence at the auto show a week prior to the event, followed by a press release unveiling a new vehicle model, and perhaps a supplemental ad campaign. Now that mobile and social technology have created the 24-hour news cycle, brands in the automotive industry are forgoing ad hoc campaigns and developing a buyer-centric, multichannel communications model to reach new audiences.
Drawing inspiration from this car company’s campaign, some key points to consider for your plan include:
SET REALISTIC GOALS
As your brand develops a stream of outbound communications, setting realistic goals can help make the case for investment in future communications efforts. For example, at the International Auto Show, visibility and media coverage are key to standing out from competitors. Metrics such as views and engagement can help you gauge what your brand influence is in the marketplace.
Beyond awareness, measuring actions such as content downloads, request for demos and more can connect your strategy to the bottom line. Distributing content over the industry’s largest network gives you the visibility needed to begin developing credibility with target consumers and influence their actions further down the sales cycle.
PLAN FOR LONG-TERM ENGAGEMENT
Don’t wait for news to happen to get the conversation started around your brand. Creating and distributing content on relevant topics weeks or months in advance of a major event showcases your company’s expertise and gives you a competitive edge. Before major trade shows, automotive brands are using press releases, photos and videos to build excitement around product unveilings and drive media interest.
KNOW WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE IS
Content that may not be considered by the PR team to be “newsworthy” enough for a pitch to top-tier media may still be of vital interest to core audiences. With the saturation of mainstream news, niche influencers have become gateway to infiltrating the larger market. Smaller outlets are in need of content as much as the major players, and building relationships that target your brand to local regions can become a differentiator for your business. For example in a major city like New York or Los Angeles, the marketplace for attention around car sales is very crowded. However, smaller, less populated cities such as Tucson or Albuquerque might have information gap that needs to be filled.
Additionally, translating your content for multicultural audiences can provide additional exposure for your message in rapidly growing market.
ENLIST THIRD-PARTY INDUSTRY EXPERTISE TO CREATE VALUE EXCHANGE
Much like consumers, the media is more interested in hearing product recommendations from third-party experts than from company executives. Industry experts are adept at crafting stories about why the product is important to the marketplace and the evolution of technology behind it. Enlisting the help of a third-party spokesperson also creates a value exchange where they boost your brand’s credibility by helping consumers understand the business while promoting their own thought-leadership. During the International Auto Show, vehicle valuation and automotive research company, Kelley Blue Book, promotes their reviews of the latest product unveilings using PR Newswire’s Multimedia News Releases.2
ANALYZE CAMPAIGN RESULTS FOR FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS
Certain conditions can affect the results of your campaign such as:
The quality of the message: was your story compelling enough to make your brand stand out?
Timing: was a competitor conducting a campaign and media outreach at the same time?
Current events: did other trending topics draw your audience’s attention instead?
Making a note of these occurrences can help you refine your strategy and improve future results.
Earned Media Is an Integral Part of the Sales Cycle
Unlike sales reps, media and influencers are not paid to advocate for a product or service, and are therefore viewed as more trustworthy and credible sources of information to prospects.3 Depending on the source of that recommendation, such as a thought leader or industry publication, that message could influence decisions further down the sales cycle especially if your brand is less established than larger competitors.
Search engines are one of the first places that consumers go to when they are researching solutions to their problems. News coverage and engagement on social media are powerful influences on search ranking, and a higher ranking boosts the brand’s credibility. Because media mentions inform search engine results, using language that is consistent with how customers discuss issues related to your brand to increases the chances of your business being discovered.
Web site analytics can show the subsequent behavior of the visitors your PR efforts drove to the company’s web site and landing pages, and in many cases, can enable PR teams to track visitor behavior all the way through to the purchase. Ensure your PR efforts are telling the right stories and targeting outlets that align with marketing plans and your buyers’ journeys.
Combining PR with product marketing to create unconventional content can help your brand stand out. Compelling, well-crafted messages are found by new audiences, redistributed across peer and professional networks and surfaced in search engine results. Discoverability sets the stage for earning familiarity, which then develops trust and ongoing relationships in target markets.
According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, only 38% of B2B marketers say their content marketing efforts are effective.1 Using PR best practices can help inform and influence the decisions along the purchase path.
Given the endless stream of information being produced and shared online, consistency is imperative for making sure your message isn’t lost in the noise.
Key points to consider when developing a multichannel plan for communications:
- Set realistic goals
- Plan for long-term engagement
- Know where your audience is
- Enlist third-party industry expertise to create value exchange
- Analyze campaign results for future recommendations
Smaller outlets are in need of content as much as the major players, and building relationships that target your brand to local regions can become a differentiator for your business.
Search engines are one of the first places that consumers go to when they are researching solutions to their problems. News coverage and engagement on social media are powerful influences on search ranking, and a higher ranking boosts the brand’s credibility.
PR NEWSWIRE SOLUTIONS
PR Newswire’s portfolio of services and solutions helps communicators of all stripes achieve their communications goals – from building awareness with new audiences and gaining media pickup, to managing reputation and inspiring investor confidence – by sharing, targeting, tracking and enhancing your unique content to make the most of your content investment. Our offerings include:
Content Distribution — Share and target your message via our unrivaled, trusted distribution network and make it more discoverable to new audiences.
Multimedia News Release — Connect with your target audiences by presenting your content, program offers and engagement points on a dedicated, branded landing page.
MultiVu — Work with our team of experienced video producers to produce multimedia content that inspires action.
1. 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report
3. Pollitt, Chad, “Content Marketing Is 88 Percent Less Effective Than Public Relations” Huffington Post, April 11, 2014,