Influencers vs. Opinion Leaders: Whom to Trust?

Influencers vs. Opinion Leaders_ Whom to Trust_

Do influencers still influence anyone in 2018?

Who are “influencers,” after all? What makes them different from “opinion leaders?”

Although many people use these terms interchangeably, PR managers need to separate them and understand which is right for a successful marketing campaign.

With that in mind, let’s check who is truly influential today and whom you should pitch for better results.

Who Are Influencers?

As a PR manager, you know the significance of communication in marketing. Given that almost half of Americans don’t trust brands and 84 percent of people give credit to online reviews and personal recommendations, it’s no surprise that influencer marketing is on its rise now.

Influencers are people (or animals, or fictive characters) who have a strong community and build relationships with them to affect purchase decisions. They are active social media users, and you can categorize them into three types:

Celebrities

Celebrities have brought positive results to digital and traditional marketing for a long time. Remember Jean-Claude Van Damme in the ad of Volvo trucks? Or, Ellen DeGeneres whose genuine reaction to the Japanese milk commercial was the best advertising that brand could ever have?

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But the statistics change today: according to the Collective Bias survey, only 3 percent of consumers trust celebrities when it comes to product purchase decisions.

It happens so because more and more celeb influencers promote products in which they have no interest. They take money to mention you on Facebook or Instagram stories, but they don’t sound genuine. And consumers feel that.

Also, the audience of each celebrity is more diverse now. It’s hard to predict how many of them will need a face cream and how many are looking for a car to buy.

Bloggers

Bloggers influence their audience through writing in particular niches. They can craft original content as guest contributors or allow sponsored content on their blogs. Also, a review of your product with a strong conclusion from a top blogger can lead to a conversion rate boost.

Examples of top bloggers in their niches are Jon Morrow (writing) from The Smart Blogger, Neil Patel (marketing) from QuickSprout, or Brian Dean (SEO) from Backlinko.

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Another option is video content creators – aka vloggers – with millions of followers on YouTube. Many brands work with them, signing contracts to promote a product. Examples are Zoella, who helped Lush get thousands of new customers, and PewDiePie, who has over 60 million subscribers and, therefore, is the most popular channel on YouTube.

Micro Influencers

“Micro influencer” is a relatively new term describing industry experts who don’t go after the big audience. They choose quality over quantity, and that is why their followers are more engaging than those of macro influencers. They try to connect with as many of their followers as possible on a personal level.

Micro influencers are those who:

  • have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers;
  • are able to influence people’s opinions;
  • generate high engagement;
  • are experts in their specific niches, so they might help you reach a more relevant audience.

Examples are Alexandra Lerner (wellness) and Marta Pozzan (fashion).

Who Are Opinion Leaders?

People go to opinion leaders after they’ve read or watched influencers to check whether the latter was right. Influencers are active social media users, and they do something there all the time to put the wind in their life and business. Opinion leaders are active too, but they can well afford fewer publications.

Examples are Seth Godin, Brian Tracy, and Robert Kiyosaki in the world of business. Or, Stephen King in the world of horror literature and movies. His positive or negative tweet about a book or a movie can change peoples’ attitude drastically.

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Even your cat – remember Grumpy? – can become an influencer on social media but he will hardly become an opinion leader in any particular niche.

So, opinion leaders are industry experts. Journalists, professional advisers, academics — those whom people trust due to qualification and experience. For instance, if Seth Godin mentions your business in his speech, book, or blog, it will boost your reputation by all means.

In short, opinion leaders are those knowledgeable and respected in their field, with views that carry significance to the community, and those forming public opinion on any subject. They interpret rather than copy media content, and they actively share it with the public.

Whom Should You Pitch?

Influencers have fame with the public, huge following and overwhelming popularity. They are trendsetters, which makes them a powerful weapon for influencing your customers. If your brand is new to the public, influencers can endorse it; but such a strategy only makes sense if their audience (and he or she themselves) is relevant to your industry.

Also, think twice before searching for a celebrity who could help to promote your brand. Google has it, YouTubers are now more influential than traditional celebs:

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It’s not that difficult to outreach vloggers and micro influencers. Depending on your marketing goals, you can build long-term relationships with the right influencers so they would post about your product on different platforms for brand awareness and trust. They are great to engage new customers and affect their buying habits.

To identify the right influencer, consider their relevance to your brand, content types they share and the engagement rate (likes, shares, comments from their audience).

Relevant and engaging? Great! Pitch them.

The situation is different with opinion leaders.

The concept they promote is more about “thought leadership” than “influencing.” They don’t care about follower numbers, but instead about expertise and knowledge. Opinion leaders are those influencing influencers.

Outreaching them is a big challenge for marketers. To spark their interest and make them spend some time on learning about your product, make sure it has a USP. Answer these questions before sending a pitch:

  • What’s their benefit from your offer?
  • Is your offer unique in the niche?
  • Is it attractive and essential enough?

Opinion leaders care about the niche. They invest time and money in their professional growth. They generate content of high quality for the purpose of educating others. So they won’t promote your product for the mere money.

Pitch them when you’re 100 percent certain that your brand’s mission aligns with those of the target leader.

Takeaways

Your target audience trusts relevant influencers on YouTube and Instagram. Influencers trust opinion leaders. Make them all trust your brand and help with its promotion: spark their interest, explain what they get, align with their views and then your goals – and the positive results – won’t be long in coming.

And remember:

The key to a successful campaign is choosing the right influencer or opinion leader. Don’t think about numbers of their followers. Think of a genuine added value they can give to the community with the help of your brand.

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About Lesley Vos:

Lesley Vos is a seasoned web writer and blogger at Bid as well as a contributor to many publications on business, marketing and self-development. Feel free to get in touch. 

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Why Social Analysis Is Essential to PR

If you are not analyzing social data, you are missing an opportunity to generate insights faster and at a lesser cost than through alternatives such as surveys, focus groups and case studies. The ability to quickly access this type of data enables you to evolve campaigns to drive further engagement with target audiences proactively.

About 58 percent of brands don’t know what people do after they consume their content and two-thirds don’t have insights into audience behavior. When bearing in mind that social is only continuing to grow, there is a clear need for a social media monitoring tool to help navigate this complex landscape.

So, what do you need to do to make sure your comms teams are utilizing social in the right ways? Understanding what actions, attitudes and perceptions exist and how they shift concerning particular campaigns or initiatives help inform strategic planning. Furthermore, this type of insight starts to answer some larger marketing and PR questions.

What Content Drives Engagement, Interaction And Behaviors?

To fully take advantage of social insights to inform ongoing campaigns you need to be able to benchmark the kind of content that is driving audience engagement and interaction. Doing so requires the ability to listen across social channels to understand what conversations around your brand, products, or messages are driving engagement. It also requires the ability to quantify and analyze these metrics, which will enable comms teams to show value behind specific campaigns.

The ability to listen and analyze engagement metrics across social channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, alongside the rest of the earned media landscape is essential in providing a holistic view of campaign performance. For analysis purposes, automating reporting to categorize mentions, engagements and top authors by company, product, messages and any other preferred category help to save time and gain targeted insights. Lastly, tools that can help to tie social engagement metrics back to online articles begin to showcase how traditional content resonates through social channels.

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What is The Overall Audience Perception of a Campaign or Product Launch?

Beyond simple engagement metrics, social perception is a huge point of analysis that can’t be overlooked by PR and comms professionals. Understanding social context and being able to dissect things like negative mentions around your new product release or announcement can offer insight into what resonates with your audience and why.

For example, Cision offers advanced machine learning through its auto sentiment capabilities that systematically measure the emotional tone of content to understand the public’s reaction to announcements that can have a measurable financial impact on business and brand reputation. With the ability to accurately identify nouns and capture emotional context on multiple subjects, comms teams can automate the process of determining the emotional reaction of a PR or communications campaign.

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Who Are The Right Social Influencers to Engage With?

In the world of the communications, social analysis needs to be considered not just from a monitoring and listening perspective, but from an outreach perspective as well. Social influencers are playing an increasing role in how brand and audience perception are shaped. Being able to leverage these influencers in their niche spaces enables your teams to tap into loyal audiences that are more likely to purchase, or at least consider your brand or product over others.

Vendors in the social space need to consistently bring innovations to the way the industry looks at an integrated communications cloud for the modern PR professional. Monitoring and analyzing social conversations are no doubt critical but being able to identify and engage with social influencers quickly is necessary for completing the communications workflow. Tools like Cision’s Social Influencer Discovery enable comms teams to identify potential influencers for your brand by analyzing metrics around follower count, subject influencer rankings, and insights into communication style and target mediums to help complete the communications cycle in the social landscape.

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About Lee Ribeiro

Lee Ribeiro is a Product Marketing Manager at Cision, where he manages content and communication channels between product and sales teams regarding product updates, new features, and positioning towards B2B and B2C audiences.

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5 Indispensable Tips to Nail B2B Media Relations

Nail B2B Media Relations

It would be a mistake to lump B2B media relations in with general PR practices; simply because it is so unique and layered. B2C PR deals with the everyday consumer whose priorities are probably quite different from the corporate folk that B2B companies are trying to communicate with.

Due to these vast differences, the entire PR strategy for a B2B company should have its own set of goals and priorities. B2B companies are beginning to understand just how important media relations is as 75 percent of businesses plan to up their PR spending in the coming year. However, simply spending more does not always ensure success. In fact, an expensive strategy can be just as ineffective as a cheap one.

As PR expert Ben Veal put it:

The key to successful B2B PR is accurately identifying an audience and their drivers, and then developing tailored content that is specifically designed to engage and resonate. This content needs to be released at the right time and in the right format to ensure that the decision-makers you are targeting are reached and understand the message.”

Let’s discuss some tips and ideas that can help get your B2B media relations campaign on the right track.

1. Understand Key Decision Makers’ Pain Points

Obviously, a B2B decision maker is going to have different priorities than a B2C shopper would. They are looking for a service or product to help their business succeed, so it must have clear benefits that will affect their bottom line, as well as day-to-day operations. Unlike the average consumer, B2B customers are not necessarily looking for the best deal or the latest technology. They are more interested in the end result.

To create the type of media content that will attract and convert executives, marketers and PR pros must understand what makes them tick and what content influences them the most.

There are some key statistics to keep in mind for this task.

  • Roughly two-thirds of the buyer’s journey for B2B decision makers is conducted online. This means that most of the awareness and introduction phase is completed digitally, and customers do not reach out to sales departments directly until far later in the journey.
  • 80 percent of B2B buyers prefer to collect information about the product or service through articles and quality content, rather than advertisements. Of course, this online content plays a major role in their purchase decision.

This means that the subject of your content must be highly relevant to your target customers’ pain points and concerns. Nearly half of all consumers check out three to five pieces of content before they reach out to a salesperson, so they must thoroughly answer the most burning questions.

Seeing what your most common customer inquiries are about is a good starting point. These FAQs can guide your PR strategy in the right direction by identifying common patterns.

2. Segment Wisely 

In today’s B2B market, customers are as vast and wide as ever. That being said, client segmentation is certainly not a one-size-fits-all entity, as a B2B’s audiences can vary quite a bit. Therefore, B2B media teams must understand their diverse audiences and how to address each segment accurately.

There are essentially three key methods that B2B companies should utilize in order to properly categorize their customers for more relevant marketing and media strategies.

Market segmentation

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The first category is A priori segmentation, otherwise known as public data segmentation. This means that potential clients are organized by common data, such as company size, location, or industry niche. This type of segmentation is fairly simple and straightforward; however, it should only be a starting point. After all, two companies may be the same size but have totally different priorities and budgets — two factors that could make generic content totally irrelevant to them.

The next type of segmentation is value-based, which involves separating clients into categories based on their expected spending budgets and how well they match your goals. For example, if an industry leader is interested in your product/service and converts, they could be valuable for future sales because it increases your credibility. However, this could mean that smaller businesses and clients get pushed to the wayside because they are viewed as “less valuable” due to their smaller budgets.

The final (and arguably most accurate) form of segmentation is needs-based. This means that potential clients are separated based on their specific product or service requirements. This information can be determined through market research, consumer information, or sales transactions. The goal is to discover trends for each segment and determine client needs based on behavior and preferences.

By segmenting customers properly, media relations teams can better understand how to address their clients with their messaging and play to each segment’s needs and priorities.

3. Use Timely Data

Customer data should be a key part of any B2B business’s media relations strategy, but it is vitally important that this information is as accurate and fresh as possible. While many marketing and PR teams report that they are trying to integrate more data-driven messaging for their customers, 74 percent of their customers are unsatisfied with their content because it is not relevant to their interests.

This is why timely data is absolutely necessary so that messages, promotions, or content pieces are more in-line with your target audience’s needs in the moment. For example, media teams can track past shopping behaviors by gathering consumer data from POS transactions to identify customer profiles. From here, these people can be better targeted for related content to help them make the most of your company’s services.

It’s a fact that customers appreciate personalized content, and 98 percent of marketing experts report that it has some degree of impact on building better customer relationships. However, the only way to sustain a personalization strategy in media relations is by gathering and analyzing data as quickly and as often as possible. Be sure that your team’s data collection methods are in-the-moment and updated regularly for the best results.

4. Create Smooth Buyer’s Journey Transitions

The buyer’s journey for B2C consumers is usually simple, straightforward and fast. Once customers are made aware of the brand or product, they consider their options and make a quick decision.

However, the journey for B2B customers is far lengthier and complicated. After all, the typical shopper does not have thousands — or millions — of dollars in their spending budgets.

Additionally, B2C purchase decisions tend to be a “one and done” type of deal. They consider their options, choose whichever product best fits their ideal situation and buy it. However, the B2B buyer’s journey is far more layered. First of all, there are normally several decision-makers who must come to an agreement, rather than just a single consumer. Moreover, the customer journey usually takes far longer — most purchase decisions are made months after an initial inquiry.

It is up to media relations teams to ensure that each step along the way is as easy and seamless as possible. Any kinks could result in lost revenue. It is necessary for teams to understand the role that their media messages play and focus on building trust and customer confidence to make the transitions smooth.

5. Edit, Edit Some More, and Edit Again

Though the PR world is notoriously fast-paced, this does not give media teams the excuse to skip over the editing process. Simple mistakes like misspellings, unclear verbiage, or unverified information can totally destroy a brand’s credibility and do far more damage than a delayed but correct response would.

Unfortunately, according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, public confidence in the media is quite low, which means that brands must be extremely careful that every posted message is accurate and truthful. The only way to do this is by checking, editing, changing and editing again in order to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

Conclusion

The realm of B2B PR is truly a breed of its own. It has such an immense impact on conversions, brand trust and customer satisfaction, that its importance cannot be understated.

To make sure that your B2B business gets its media relations strategy right, it is important to always keep the customers’ pain points first and foremost. Identify their burning questions and address them through quality content. Be sure to understand which category each client fits into to target them with more relevant messages. Use data collection systems to gather and analyze information relevant to potential customers’ needs. By doing so, the transition from visitor-to-customer-to-advocate can be much smoother.

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About Manish Dudharejia

Manish Dudharejia is the President and Co-Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.

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How to Evaluate a Social Media Listening Platform

Social Listening

Data is growing faster than ever before and by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. This is largely thanks to people’s passion for creating and sharing online content.

Additionally, 81 percent of the U.S. population had a social media profile as of 2017, and that number is only continuing to rise. Flourishing social media platforms and tried-and-true media outlets and blogs have set us on an upward trajectory in terms of content creation.

Though people are sharing selfies and brunch pictures, they are also increasingly engaging in intelligent, meaningful conversations that brands can harness for strategic social media monitoring. Failure to keep ahead of the social conversations can lead to unengaged prospects and unsatisfied customers.

The volume of conversation may seem intimidating, but with the right strategies and proper media monitoring tools, you can build audience personas, track them along the path to purchase and leverage social data for a more targeted communications strategy that will drive your bottom line.

Understand Your Brand’s Needs

First and foremost, understanding what your company needs in a social listening tool is going to be the most important step. There is a difference between tools that provide social listening capabilities and tools that provide social media management capabilities. Ask yourself — is your team looking to listen to coverage across all media sources, including social, and understand the key topics, trends and messages that resonate with target buyers?  If so, a social listening tool is essential.

Are your teams looking to manage company-owned social media accounts in an attempt to respond to customer support issues or to generate a social following? This is where a social media management platform might be a better fit.

While both of these tools are useful in a multitude of ways, Cision’s focus is on social listening. Cision provides comprehensive social listening across channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. The ability to listen across these mediums in tandem with coverage across online, print and broadcast creates a holistic approach to truly understand the context behind social media mentions and how they resonate with audiences.

Understand the Vision

Understanding a vendor’s vision provides some key insights that can really help you align overall goals and objectives. This reveals the vendor’s long-term commitment and gives you an understanding of how their roadmap will evolve with the industry. Secondly, the vendor’s vision provides evidence of its ability to become a proactive partner versus a mere reactive vendor. A strong vision from a vendor provides thought leadership to help navigate the uncertainty of the social media evolution.

Cision continues to expand how PR and communications professionals listen to audiences across the entire earned media landscape. With innovations including Cision Impact and the introduction of Social Influencer Discovery, Cision understands that social is a major part of the communicator’s overall strategy.

Cision will continue to be a leader in the industry through its strategic partnerships, acquisitions and forward-thinking approach to change the way PR measures and proves its impact across all channels, including social.

Customer Success

Comms and PR professionals need insight into the vendor’s customer success team to understand some of the different use cases where vendors have proven the ability to adapt to the client, rather than making the client adapt to the vendor. Tapping into case studies and requesting specific examples of customer success can really help avoid misalignment and get a sense of real-world applications that may resonate with your own business initiatives.

Cision’s case studies range from small business to global enterprises. With over 75,000 customers across the globe, Cision has proven that it can cater to business needs at every given level of operations.

Cision’s primary purpose revolves around the communicator’s end goals and objectives. Through the many partnerships, acquisitions, and product developments made over the last couple years, there is a strong confidence in our organization that if social media listening is important to your brand, the first step in your evaluation should be speaking to a Cision rep, today.

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About Lee Ribeiro

Lee Ribeiro is a Product Marketing Manager at Cision, where he manages content and communication channels between product and sales teams regarding product updates, new features, and positioning towards B2B and B2C audiences.

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How to Prevent Marketing Blindness

Prevent Marketing Blindness

Do you remember the first billboard you saw on the way to work today?  The second? Yeah, neither do I.

What about your cereal boxes in the cupboard? Which cereal is on the left, which is on the right? I have no clue either.

It turns out that we become blind to the things we see virtually every day. Our eyes see these things – like billboards and cereal boxes – and immediately (subconsciously) decide that we basically know them already. And, therefore, they aren’t worth our actual, conscious attention anymore.

Since our eyes stop registering things we see too often, it’s worth asking — what does this say about your company’s marketing efforts? Your website and email pitch template and other collateral?

Sure, your website might have been super flashy and eye-grabbing the first time your potential clients saw it. But what about the third or fourth or twelfth time? If you can forget your favorite cereal, you can certainly forget a website.

(By the way, for those who are interested in a bit heavier reading on the topic, researchers have studied this phenomenon quite a bit. Psychologists have even given it a name — ”Inattentional Blindness — and Scientific American posted a fascinating article about it.)

With this in mind, let’s look at a few action steps you can take to make sure your marketing doesn’t fall prey to your audience’s inattentional blindness.

Play With Your Website

Of course, it’s not necessarily feasible to have your content team whip up a brand new website for you every month or two. Perhaps the changes don’t need to be so severe or sudden (or complex!), though. Even if you start with small changes, it can start adding up.

That main image on your homepage might have been unique or interesting a few months ago, or for first-time visitors to your site, but it no longer registers for repeat visitors. It’s time to change it up. You could pick a new stock image every month or so and have your web team swap it out for you — that’s certainly better than nothing — but there’s an even better way to keep visitors interested. Get on board with a service like Optimizely’s Web Personalization product or BrightEdge’s BrightEdge Content product, which automatically change the display content on your landing page for repeat visitors to your site. These Smart Content providers do the work for you, making sure that your website stays fresh and attention-grabbing for your clients.

Revisit Your Email Template

Of course, you’ve got your email template ready to go for prospective clients or journalists. Before you hit send on that email though, you’ve got to ask — what changes do you make to your template each time you’re introducing yourself and your products to a journalist or potential client?

I’ll give you a tip: If the only change you make is the recipient’s name, you’re doing it wrong.

In fact, Cision’s 2018 State of the Media Report recently discovered that journalists have been itching for this very thing for a few years now. According to the report,

“For the third year in a row, journalists ask that you to [sic] research them, understand who they are and what they cover before pitching them, ranking this their top request of PR pros.” [emphasis mine]

Take an extra five minutes here and there to punch up your emails a bit. Show the recipient that you’re human and that you realize they’re human, too. Prove to them that you’re interested in them, not just their money or their coverage.

  • Did you meet them at a tradeshow? Point out something specific that they told you. Show them you were listening.
  • Are you responding to an inquiry they sent through your site? Before you mindlessly hit reply, look up their organization first and identify a couple of things about what they do. Show them how their specific industry is a perfect fit for your service.
  • Have you researched their previous work and connections? If not, it’s time to open up a search engine or their LinkedIn profile and do a bit of digging.

Use Press Releases to Continue Your Story

Your entire company started with a story. Maybe it began with your founder’s lemonade stand. Maybe you had a vision during your business ethics class in college which made you realize that the world is in desperate need of this Great New Thing or else.

Whatever it was, there was a story.

In the time since your company was founded, did your story stop? Of course not! Your story has been evolving this entire time.

So, keep telling your story. Share with your clients, readers and the media how your story is staying fresh, even today. And the best way to do that, unsurprisingly, is with a press release. According to the aforementioned 2018 State of the Media Report, the number one most trusted source for news is the press release.

Every press release is a brand new chance to show your audience how your story is still going. It’s a chance to make sure your audience doesn’t become blind to the same ol’ message, the same ol’ story of your founder’s lemonade stand that you’ve been rehashing for years.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Really, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel with all of this. You want to stay original and fresh, yes, but this doesn’t require a whole new approach to marketing. We’re talking about small changes: updating your website a bit more often (or using automation to do it for you), tailoring your message to your clients and the press (rather than giving them a generic template) and sending out a few more press releases here and there.

These small changes can give your marketing efforts a wakeup call to undo the inattentional blindness that’s been building around your brand, allowing you to start catching the eyes of your audience again.

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About Aaron Searle

Aaron Searle is a PR Newswire, senior customer content specialist. He’s worked in various sales, marketing and PR jobs over the past 10 years, and strives to bring an organic approach to all of his work and his writing, whether personal or professional.

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Why PR Pros Are Going ‘Back-to-Basics’ When Building Relationships

Daniel Tisch calls it “the penny-dropping moment.” Although leading a PR agency as CEO will always have its fair share of surprises, a member of his team came back from a meeting with a client a few years ago with some particularly ominous feedback.

“(The client) said to one of our consultants, ‘We’ll let you know if we need PR this year,’” Tisch recalled. “I sat in my office and thought about that. I realized that the client’s view of what PR was only related to what you do when you’ve got an announcement — or a crisis.”

Many comms professionals have come to realize the importance of proving their value, and Tisch didn’t waste any time. In 2015 his firm, Argyle Public Relations, rebranded to “Argyle Public Relationships” — a subtle but significant shift in emphasizing how he and his team are not only fluent in digital channels but in connecting with media and other stakeholders in a way that delivers results for clients.

Argyle didn’t just change its name, of course. As Tisch explained, the rise of content marketing, social media and technologies like artificial intelligence have dominated discussions in an industry that may need to revisit the fundamentals — like being on good enough terms with a journalist that you can actually pick up the phone and have your call answered.

“It’s that idea of going back to the roots of PR and focusing on the strategic management of relationships, in a way which only humans can do, and where PR are the only professionals who can do it in a way that’s ethical and effective,” he said.

Getting Back to PR Fundamentals

There is some evidence this shift is already underway. In its recently released 2018 Global Communications Report, for example, the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations surveyed PR pros about the kind of talent they are seeking to attract and develop. Some of the high-priority abilities will sound very familiar to seasoned veterans of the profession.

“Research and analytics are an increasingly important source, along with advertising and marketing (skills),” the report said. However, “Traditional expertise still tops the list of skills communications departments and PR firms view as key to success over the next five years.”

The big question is what is considered a “traditional” or fundamental skill. The report showed writing skills topped the list at 89 percent, for instance, while the more generic “media relations” was cited by only 63 percent. Of course, media relations could refer to blasting out mass e-mails as much as it could refer to diligently researching the right influencers, taking the time and effort to get to know them and even following them as they move from one outlet to another.

How to Create Better Relationships With Journalists

According to Adrienne Scordato, CEO and Founder at New York-based Atrium PR, working with integrity and professionalism will lay the foundation to establish a more genuine relationship with the media, regardless of their preferred channels.

“The best way to get to know a journalist (or anyone frankly) is to communicate often, honestly and with the person’s best interests and needs in mind. It takes time to gain someone’s trust,” she said. “But I find that if you don’t ‘spin’ a story, but deliver it in an authentic, real way, you can never go wrong. And never lie.”

Other common sense — but often forgotten — PR basics include doing your homework and putting yourself in the media’s place, rather than trying to find a shortcut to a particular editor or reporter, Scordato continued.

“On the PR agency side, I think we all need to deeply understand a reporter’s beat and the publication’s audience and pitch strategically based on their needs – not strictly our own,” she said, adding that timeliness matters too. “Everyone should respond within 24 hours. I think it is easy to say ‘You don’t know how many emails I get in a day,’ and that is no excuse. We all have to pull our weight and be respectful of other people’s time.”

Tisch agrees, describing Argyle’s approach as one of “narrowcasting” and tailoring a pitch.

“You always need to have a clear, ‘on the record’ statement in a news release in terms of how you’re responding to an issue and so on, but we also have to ensure we can deliver that content and break it up and reassemble it in a variety of different ways,” he said. “It’s about going deeper and going more customized to their needs.”

Knowing you’ve mastered the elements of PR 101 — or remastered them — might mean reaching a point where firms aren’t strictly dealing with journalists via e-mail, but it may also be more nuanced than that. Tisch said he looks for signs of mutual trust. Argyle needs to establish which outlets and influencers are most credible, for instance, but those outlets and influencers also need to react to Argyle’s team in a way that suggests they know they’re dealing with a firm they respect. Scordato said it’s much the same at Atrium.

“I base quality on how willing a journalist is to listen and give our pitch a chance,” she said. “(What we’re pitching) may not work for them at the time, but this is a partnership, and the best relationships thrive when you treat one another well.”

About Shane Schick

Shane Schick is a journalist and content marketer who writes for Marketing Dive, Mobile Marketer and several other publications. When he’s not editing The Citizen, Shane is also running B2B News Network, which is read by CMOs, CIOs and sales execs. Connect with Shane in Cision City with questions, feedback and story ideas!

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3 Ways to Engage Your Superfans and Create True Brand Advocates

3 Ways to Engage Your Superfans and Create True Brand Advocates

You know that friend who attends every concert her favorite band plays within a six-hour driving radius? Or maybe the co-worker who is always carrying the most recent book by his favorite self-help guru and buys a copy for everyone in the office at the holidays? What about that family member who raves about her newest smartphone and tries to convince everyone else to get that model, too? If you know anyone who fits these descriptions, congratulations! You have met a superfan.

For business owners, superfans are dream customers. They buy everything you produce without considering the price, and they’ll purchase merchandise when you’re in the rollout or launch stage because they believe in everything you offer. Superfans are happy to help get your early launch numbers and publicity buzz going strong. You don’t need millions of customers; you just need the right superfans.

The most powerful thing about superfans, though, is that they want to tell your story. They take great pride in being associated with your brand, and they will go out of their way to share their loyalty and recruit new customers to the fold. As a result, you should focus significant energy on identifying and cultivating your superfans.

Finding Your Superfans

So how do you get superfans? In an attempt to bolster their name and reap the benefits of shared media, brands often try to identify people who are socially and commercially influential and then convince them to become superfans. This is the opposite of what you should be doing. Instead, identify your existing superfans and then give them influencer status. This approach not only requires less money and far less work, but it’s also much more effective.

Finding your superfans isn’t a monumental task, but you need to be ready to watch and listen. Superfans are the customers your store employees know by name because they come in so frequently. They are the people who post random tweets about how much they love your new book. They faithfully show up at your special events and are excited to wear your merchandise.

When it comes to businesses with clearly visible superfans, companies like Apple spring to mind. But all companies can have superfans. Take the automobile industry, for example, with groups like the Dodge Viper Owners Association or the Porsche Club of America. These groups exist to provide a rallying point around which superfans can congregate to socialize, network and feel a sense of community with like-minded individuals.

What is fascinating about many of these superfan groups is that businesses can actually require a customer to spend additional money to participate or receive extra access. Superfans aren’t just willing to pay; they will do so happily because it means they’re a part of the “in group.”

Once you feel confident that you’ve pinpointed your superfans, you need to let them work for you. To do that, remember these three important tips for fostering superfans:

1. When They Talk, Listen

Keep an eye on who is engaging with your social media pages. Notice the people who frequently interact with your posts, and start a discussion with them. If you have someone who likes everything you post, reach out with a message asking what she would like to see from you. Or if you’re rolling out a new product or service soon, ask whether she would enjoy a sneak peek. Everybody wants to feel like a part of the club, and the feedback you get from these fans will be invaluable in your research, development and promotional efforts.

Once you launch a new product or service, pay close attention to the reactions you get. For example, in the lead-up to my new book launch, I’ll be mailing out almost 500 advance copies to influencers, friends, clients and colleagues. Some of those people will read it and share it with their friends. Some will read it and contact me to buy books in bulk. Others will ignore it completely. Based on each person’s response, I’ll start making a list of potential beta readers for my next book, and I’ll feel confident that I have a group of people who care about my product and will share it with others.

2. Turn Casual Fans Into Superfans

Not everyone will be a superfan, but it is possible to elevate a midlevel fan to superfan status by giving that person a boost. Every business should have a customer insights team that gathers groups of customers to show them new ideas coming down the pipeline. This could include a new advertising campaign, a new product about to roll out, or just a quick sample of a new approach to messaging.

This type of inclusion serves a dual purpose: These customers feel special and valued (which boosts their support of your brand), and they are also willing to give you honest feedback. Even if they haven’t reached superfan status yet, in this environment, they’ll be comfortable telling you when you do something that’s not in alignment with your brand or not the quality they expect. When they feel like you’re listening to their feedback, customers become much more engaged with your brand.

3. Give Them an Identity

Giving your superfans a name or a unique identity is especially powerful. International music sensation Lady Gaga refers to her superfans as her “Little Monsters.” She has a code language for talking to them. When she says, “Paws up,” it’s a rallying cry for her most dedicated fans.

Lady Gaga often ends an interview by saying, “Paws up!” The average viewer has no idea what she’s talking about, but her superfans know she’s speaking directly to them. That “insider” feeling is invaluable when it comes to keeping superfans dedicated.

Businesses can do the same thing by making superfans a part of their brand. For example, retail clothing store T.J.Maxx calls its best customers “Maxxinistas,” and it even launched a “Maxxinista of the Month” contest, in which fans could upload photos of themselves wearing their favorite fashion designs in order to try to win a gift card to T.J.Maxx and a professional photo shoot. When fans feel like they’re a part of an exclusive club, their loyalty goes through the roof.

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Superfans Can Supercharge Your Business

Superfans create other superfans. Remember that co-worker who gives out books to everyone at the office? If one person reads the book and it hits him just right, he, in turn, will share it with as many people as possible. If a rabid fan of a brand is constantly enthusiastic about it, the friends and colleagues in his social circle will start to wonder whether they’re missing out on something special. Chances are they’ll check into it just to find out. That’s the power of shared media at work.

Once a superfan starts recruiting for your business, she begins pairing up with regular fans, and the enthusiasm spreads. One of the best things you can do is connect a superfan with a brand-new customer. When that newbie is exposed to a brand champion who is already excited about your brand, she becomes excited about your brand, too.

The new fan might become a superfan in her own right, if you make her feel special and listen when she offers opinions and feedback. Before you know it, you could have your own legion of superfans ready to help you take on the world.

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About Joey Coleman

Joey Coleman is an award-winning speaker who has worked with companies ranging from small startups to major brands such as Whirlpool, NASA, and Zappos. His book “Never Lose a Customer Again” helps businesses learn how to turn any sale into a lifelong customer.

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