I’ll tell you what I’ve found myself doing a lot of recently: Social Media Strategies.
That might seem strange for someone who works in PR.
But it’s not strange at all. In fact, if you look at the Communications industry as a whole - the future of digital media, the changing landscape of PR versus SEO, Comms agency reform in terms of roles, and the emerging importance of owned media - it makes perfect sense.
That’s what Paul Sutton said in his recent blog post. I agree with him, although it hadn’t fully affected the agencies or organisations I’ve worked for to the same extent, because they hired me.
I’m not being egotistical, what I mean is that they have always ensured someone with a digital/social edge is involved in their Communications teams. That means they can utilise both the online technical skills as well as the content creation and writing skills required for Content Marketing, with the added bonus of good media relations. Like a little cherry on top.
The most recent model us industry folk use to explain what we do is the PESO model (handily included below). You can see how PR (earned media) is now no longer as threatened by Advertising (paid media) as it is by elements like owned and social media - blog posts, email marketing, social media channels, etc.
Public Relations isn’t threatened by Social and Owned media; rather the digital world is enhanced by PR…
I’ve always described myself as a writer. That’s what comes naturally to me. Not in every format or to every audience’s taste, because that comes with practice, but overall, it’s what I do well.
Content Marketing and Owned/Social Media relies heavily on a brand’s ability to create engaging content, to make it relevant, shareable and most importantly, for it to be unique and to reflect their values so that it resonates with potential advocates and customers. This ultimately comes from creating said content from scratch. That requires good writing skills.
Granted, SEO people can do that too.
Where I think PR helps, and why I believe I end up doing this kind of work a lot, is because our industry has always been so focussed on relationships. We understand the value in every contact. We will look outside the content for ways to promote it, people to connect it with, who will further share it, digital media and journalists who can take it and turn it into a bigger feature…
Add to that the fact that we are used to being small cogs in a bigger wheel, with people not entirely understanding what we do and you end up with PR people who can break technical plans and stat-heavy evaluation reports down into easy-to-understand documents that fit within wider strategies and business objectives. You end up with emotive, tailored content and the contacts to get it out past your own channels into the wider digital media landscape.
A few local Northern Irish companies are doing a great job themselves however, and I wanted to highlight some favourites and what tactics they’re employing that are working so effectively -
Outside the main two channels, Instagram is increasing in prominence but the fleeting nature of posts and the focus on imagery requires strong content. Slims Healthy Kitchen in Belfast are doing exceptionally well here producing short video posts, particularly fast recipes for health-conscious customers, amassing over 5,000 followers on “Slimstagram” as they call it:
Keen Nut Butter
The Keen range of clean-living food products also imbue their brand identity and design across all social media channels, quickly garnering fans in the consumer and retail worlds. Twitter can be particularly difficult for these brands, because imagery is less important and engagement and share ability more so. But Keen Nut manage the 140 character limit well to a highly engaged 6,117 followers:
Like most print and broadcast media outlets, local monthly social and lifestyle glossy mag IN! have had to take their content offering online. Unlike most, however, the small team manages to fully utilise the channels, particularly on Facebook where they offer their 11,000 fans all available linked apps, sign-ups and event promotion programmes while consistently delivering engaging content:
But for every success story there’s a bunch of companies struggling to pump out content and watching their audience stagnate. It’s clearly not as easy as it looks. Social Media Strategy takes skill to create the content, technical know-how to fully implement the channel offerings, and basic time resources to operate a well-functioning digital presence that will grow and engage with your audience online, ultimately transforming those online advocates into offline sales.