Whether working on the agency-side or in an in-house role, every marketing and communications professional has faced one universal challenge. What do you promote when you have nothing new to announce or original to say?
Unfortunately, this challenge has directly resulted in one of the biggest knocks on marketing, communications and PR pros to date: “spamming” customer and media audiences with reasons why your company or client is great, without being able to prove or support the claim.
Social Media and blogging have made solving this challenge slightly easier over the past decade by enabling easy self-publishing via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook posts or simply-uploaded 300- to 600-word pieces published on a corporate WordPress-hosted blog. Any marketing executive will tell you that this is certainly a step in the right direction.
While this is progress, sharing insights and commentary about industry happenings is generally not enough to drive media coverage and substantial customer or client interest for your company. To accomplish this, you may need just a bit more.
Journalists are looking for breaking news, such as funding rounds, acquisitions, breakthrough technologies and other announcements likely to garner coverage. Likewise, potential clients and customers are eventually going to look beyond your social feeds and learn more about the actual difference you can make for their company.
So, the purpose of this article is to educate companies and their marketing and PR teams on how to serve as a resource for journalists and customers alike, an objective that when accomplished properly, can instill trust and establish your spokespeople as go-to sources for years and even decades to come:
Every company, large or small, welcomes proprietary, media-worthy data to analyze and publish on their behalf. Some of you reading this may own a huge database of customer contact information from which you can poll, survey and otherwise measure a sentiment or trend. For others, it’s time to think outside the box.
Consider enlisting a third-party survey administrator like SurveyMonkey or Pollfish to set up a survey asking unique questions of a specific audience. Look at your industry — what hasn’t been explored? What data points would you like to know? Chances are, if it’s of interest to you and your customer audience(s), it will likely be interesting to a journalist. Find these data points, host the results on your website and share with the media and your customers.
2. Photos And Video
It’s 2019, so by now, everyone should know that videos and photos can be helpful when telling your corporate story. This is why we see the awkward 40-second videos shot on someone’s iPhone in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, as well as the blurry shots from your corporate holiday party. That’s a good start, but it’s time to advance!
Look for a cost-effective way to produce high-quality video content, such as a whiteboard video. It can take 60 seconds or less of impressive video content to hook a customer or client, so rather than cheapen your brand with an unprofessional video product, bring in an outside party capable of doing it for you.
Similar to photo and video, the ability to produce a powerful and thought-provoking image has evolved beyond SmartArt in a PowerPoint deck. Do you know what does work? Infographics. If you have the proper data and insights on hand, these charts, graphs and visual explainers don’t take too much time to conceptualize, and a capable designer should be able to produce a high-quality, informative graphic.
Take these ideas for whiteboard videos and infographics and disseminate them to your customers using Social Media and email marketing. Share them with curious journalists to help them better visualize or understand a trend or story idea. The <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/09/11/introduction-to-pr-for-SEO-and-how-cmos-can-deploy-it/#d30603c5b3dc” target=”_self” data-ga-track=”InternalLink:https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/09/11/introduction-to-pr-for-SEO-and-how-cmos-can-deploy-it/#d30603c5b3dc”>SEO/ORM results are beneficial, too.
4. Something Different
I’m not suggesting every company should take advantage of promotional stunts or say outlandish things, but for those operating in very crowded spaces, do something to stand out! One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Twain wasn’t talking about marketing or public relations, but there’s a lesson here. If everyone in your industry is going out and serving up the same safe insight or “hot take” in a slightly different way — as industry thought leaders are wont to do — ask yourself what you can do to help your spokesperson and company stand out. Don’t be afraid to take a different stance or offer a bold prediction. Will this approach always be perfect? Maybe not, but at least you can begin crafting your own brand identity.
These are just a few tools and tricks of the trade, but you get the idea. If you’re a marketing or communications executive, don’t wait for news or the opportunity to react as your only means to get media coverage or attention from customers. Provide insight to the public in an original fashion, and trust from journalists and consumers will follow.