Our ‘PR’edictions for the Future

This month, Dittoe PR celebrates 20 years in business! All month long, we’re celebrating our anniversary by sharing content dedicated to the big 2-0. For our final blog post of this series, we’re looking ahead at the coming years and making predictions on how things will evolve.

As we mentioned in last week’s blog post, the PR industry has changed so much in the past 20 years. Can you believe we used to fax our pitches to reporters? Our Gen Z employees definitely can’t. Twenty years ago I was in second grade, getting in trouble for talking too much, and today I’m working for one of the top PR firms in Indianapolis earning a living by telling stories.

Looking ahead at the future of PR can be challenging, given how fast-paced it is. But rather than peering into a crystal ball, we can form predictions based on rational extensions of the current industry.

More integration between PR and marketing.
One thing is for sure, the storytelling aspect of public relations isn’t going anywhere, but writing press releases alone won’t cut it anymore. As PR aligns further with the overall marketing goals of a company, it’s going to become less about content creation and more about content marketing.

Delivering information that resonates with audiences in real time is key to proving/defining/illustrating PR’s return on investment (ROI). Marketing leaders want to know that the money spent on content distribution is having an impact. As the gap between marketing and PR shrinks, data continues to rule.

Data-driven, analytics overload.
Not only will PR pros depend on data more than ever before, but it’s also very possible that PR firms and agencies will begin employing their very own data scientists. Between SEO, PPC, ROI and a whole host of other acronyms being thrown around in the marketing world, it makes sense to have a full-time team member (or five) dedicated to analyzing data and reporting on trends.

This evolution of PR will help pros better align their outreach efforts with key target audiences and understand data-forecasting in new ways. Leveraging data will also help fine-tune strategic planning, reflect on the effectiveness of campaigns, and discover opportunities centered around the levels of engagement.

A focus on branding.
Branding has been around in the corporate world for a while, but recently we’ve begun to see a shift towards ordinary people branding themselves as experts. Thanks to influencer marketing, consumers are more likely to make purchasing decisions based on the advice of who they follow on Instagram rather than seeing a company’s advertisement.

Over the next few years, we predict that more writers will follow the lead of Instagram influencers and create their own “brands” online, allowing them to become recognizable as industry experts and deliver information to audience members directly. The focus will be less on the outlet publishing the story and more on the writers themselves.

Further evolution of the trade industry.
The transition from print to online publications redefined what people consider “trusted news,” and that evolution continues today. People no longer sit down to read the morning paper, but when readers find the time to search for information on a certain topic, they go directly to a source that can provide all the information they need in as few clicks as possible.

More trade publications, writers and niche beats will emerge, and consumers will rely on these experts to keep them informed of what’s going on in the world. As PR pros, it will be our job to ensure that company leaders are among the top experts recognized in their industries through thought-leadership, expert interviews, engaging blog content, and more.

A more personalized social media.
What’s the one way to tie data, branding and industry-specific information together in an easily digestible and visually engaging package? You guessed it: social media.

But it’s not just about posting – it’s about engagement. The “E” word is no longer just reporting on likes and link clicks, it’s about starting and participating in conversations. The sooner we stop treating social media as a sales tool and start thinking about it more as an engagement tool, the data will reflect the profitable difference.

We expect that business leaders (and writers pursuing their own brands) will become just as active on social media than the companies they’re leading or publications they’re working for, if not more so. And the content they’re publishing will become more focused on creating a two-way conversation about the industry and explaining why their role in it matters.

All in all, we expect the industry to grow and evolve in the coming years. As a company dedicated to staying ahead of the curve, Dittoe PR is looking forward to seeing where the future takes us!

How to Build a Social Media Advertising Calendar

So, you’re ready to advertise on social media – congratulations! Now that you have a strong social strategy and content flowing regularly on your page, it’s time to increase the reach of your posts by putting ad dollars behind them.

Typically, at Dittoe PR, we build “ad cals” on a monthly basis for our clients, but you have the option to create a weekly, monthly, quarterly or even an annual advertising calendar.

From outlining your advertising goals to selecting content and setting a budget, below is a step-by-step guide to help you build a social media advertising calendar and further promote your business online.

Step 1: Set your budget
According to Web Strategies, businesses spend on average about 5-15% of their annual revenue on marketing efforts. Of that total marketing budget, 35-45% of funds should be allotted to digital marketing. From there, 15-25% of the digital marketing budget should be allocated towards social media advertisements.

For example, if your company reported a $100,000 revenue in 2018, your annual social media advertising budget should be around $1,500. Break that down on a monthly basis, and you should be spending about $125 per month.

At Dittoe PR, we recommend starting out with a budget of $250-500 per month in the first few months to allow for audience and content A/B testing.

Step 2: Create an audience
Understanding which platform(s) your target audience is active on will benefit you in the long run. The Pew Research Center conducts an annual survey to discover which platforms certain demographic groups gravitate toward.

If you’re trying to reach women between the ages of 30-49, Facebook is probably your best bet. But if you’re trying to reach men between the ages of 18-29, YouTube or Instagram might be the advertising platform for you.

Whoever your target audience is, the more specific you can be with demographics, the more likely you are to see a higher return on your investment. For example, let’s say you’re promoting an article published in an industry trade publication by your CEO on how to retain employees. You’ll probably want to promote the piece on LinkedIn and target users with similar work and education history and those working in overlapping industries since the content will be most relevant to them. It wouldn’t make sense to target 18-24-year-old users on Instagram, right?

Step 3: Outline your goals
After setting a budget and defining your niche audience, it’s time to align your overall business goals with your expectations for social ad performance. Are you interested in increasing foot traffic to one of your locations? Consider targeting people within a certain mile radius of your store. Are you interested in promoting a new product or service? Find common interests and overlapping demographics for your target audience and promote away!

Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow digital marketers to select an overall campaign goal when setting up new ads or selecting existing content to boost or sponsor. From brand awareness to consideration and conversions (a.k.a., website visits to engagement and lead gen), start with the objective that best aligns with your overall goals and go from there!

Step 4: Select the content
Now that you’ve set your budget, chosen your platform and outlined your goals and target audience, it’s time to select the content you want to promote! Personally, I like to look at the top performing content over the past few weeks and look ahead for any upcoming events or recurring promotions in the next month to help me get started.

You can also look at recently secured media coverage, top performing or under-performing landing pages on your website (shout-out to Google Analytics!) and upcoming holidays that align with your business objectives.

Are you trying to increase gift card sales before Mother’s Day? Did your media relations team recently secure a big national hit? Do you have an informational video getting a lot of views on your website? Is your business recruiting for new positions? The options are endless, especially if you’re willing to get creative!

Step 5: Build your calendar
Just like grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe, it doesn’t really matter what order you throw the ingredients into the bowl, as long as they’re all accounted for in the end! As long as you’ve checked all five boxes before launching your ad, you’re good to go!

Some digital marketers start by outlining which dates they want the ad to run first, then follow up with budget, audience, etc. This can be useful if you’re advertising a seasonal sale on a product line or promoting ticket sales for an upcoming event. Some start by dividing their budget equally between 4-5 ads and align the audience type with the content, which can be useful for businesses trying to build general brand awareness among target audiences.

At Dittoe PR, we use the following format for our ad cals, but feel free to make one of your own if you need more information!

AD DESCRIPTION: This is a brief description of the ad (i.e., Careers page or WaPo coverage)

  • Ad run: These are the start and end dates for your advertisement.
  • Medium: This helps to signify whether or not your team will be boosting existing content or creating a new advertisement, and on which platform the ad will run.
  • Creative: From a URL to a company branded graphic or video, the creative used can vary depending on the type of ad you’re running. Just be sure whoever is creating the ads understands what will catch the audiences’ eyes! (Hint: visuals > text)
  • Campaign budget: Here’s where you outline the total amount you want to spend on the advertisement over the lifetime of the ad. If you’re running for longer than a week, consider at least $1/day. Some platforms, like LinkedIn, require a $10/day minimum.
  • Audience: Use this section to break down the audience demographics including age, gender, employment status, job industry, interests, and much more.

Once you’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle, put them together in an easy-to-understand calendar format like the one below. This will help you reference the month (or year) at a glance and know when it’s time to launch a new set of ads. This format will also help ensure you’re not oversaturating the market with too many ads running at once.

If you’re still interested in assistance with managing your social media advertising efforts, contact Lauryn Gray to schedule a consultation or request a proposal. We’re happy to help!

The Impact of Social Media on PR

The world of public relations is changing, and we must change with it.

Since the birth of social media, people have used various platforms to build communities, keep in contact with distant family members, share personal life updates and more. But over the past decade, businesses have made use of platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to further their goals of connecting directly with the public.

According to a recent ING survey, 81% of PR pros feel they can no longer do their job without social media. Read that again. Now, let it sink in. But how much has social media changed your role in the past year? The past five years? Even ten?

As social media continues to evolve and new opportunities come to life, we as PR pros should be aware of the effect social media has on traditional public relations in order to create effective strategies for our clients. Here are just a few ways social media is impacting PR:

More data-driven initiatives.
Who doesn’t love more data? With more than 3.48 billion users on social media platforms, it’s no surprise that companies leveraging these platforms have more data than ever to help them make decisions. When looking at your company’s overarching goals, determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) will be most beneficial to your business. If you’re running an educational campaign, you’ll want to measure reach and impressions. If your goal is to increase sales, you’ll want to track engagements and click-throughs. And with platforms like Sprout Social, it’s easy! Then leverage these KPIs during the decision-making process to create better campaigns and earn better results.

Making use of the abundance of data will not only empower your team to create better social content, but it can also help identify which topics are “media-worthy.” By leveraging the social proof found on your channels, you can show members of the media that the storyline in question really will generate more readership.

More visual storytelling content.
Similar to PR, businesses can use social media to tell the story of their brand. Instead of searching strictly for earned media opportunities, businesses using social media platforms can reach their target audiences directly and engage with them on a deeper level. Consider creating video content to tell the story of a customers’ success with your brand and using your social media channels to share that story with your most loyal followers.

But don’t flood every social media channel with the same content at the same time. Strategize on which platform the content will perform best, test it out and alter your strategy for other channels. Once you find out which content best tells the story of your brand, you can further leverage that content to visually tell your story to members of the media.

More opportunities to work with “celebrities.”
Almost any brand would be thankful to be endorsed by a celebrity. And now, thanks to social media, you can! It might not be a movie star, but nano-, micro-, and macro-influencers are taking the social media world by storm.

Nano-influencers are defined as niche social media profiles with less than 10,000 followers. Micro-influencers are considered “mid-tier” and typically have between 10,000 and 200,000 followers, while macro-influencers are defined as having more than 200,000 followers.

Like trade publications, social influencers are a great way to reach a specific type of social media user. These users likely overlap with the target audience(s) you’re trying to reach with your traditional PR efforts. If you’re selling a product that makes people’s lives easier, consider partnering with lifestyle influencers to promote your brand. For example, Massage Heights Indy partners with nano- and micro-influencers around the city of Indianapolis to demonstrate the benefits of continued massage therapy through a 6-month journey. They invite influencers in for monthly complimentary massages and sit back while the social pros do the rest.

This tactic works for a number of industries and, in addition to storytelling, provides brands with user-generated content that can be leveraged as marketing collateral. It also lends a great deal of authenticity to your brand because it is real people telling real stories in a relatable way.

More affordable for small businesses.
Like earned media, social media is “free.” But, also like earned media, getting results takes time and effort. For brands who don’t have a large advertising budget, social media is a great way to share your brand story in an affordable way.

From exchanging products or services with influencers in exchange for content, to low-budget social media advertisements targeted to users in specific locations or with specific interests, social media is a great way to share content with your audience while maximizing your budget and providing stellar results.

More direct conversations.
Traditional public relations efforts are now vastly different, thanks to social media. Rather than drafting a press release and circulating to reputable media outlets under embargo, you can update your most loyal followers directly using social media, generating a buzz, and let the media members come to you. You can also tap into your brand ambassadors and leverage your social influencer partnerships to build an even bigger buzz about a product launch or an exciting company update.

When you do connect with media and secure coverage for your brand, make sure to promote it on social media – but be strategic about it! Connect with the writer on any and all available platforms so you can tag them in your posts. You should also tag the publication itself and consider engaging with both the publication and the writers’ content on a regular basis. If you show them some social love, they’re bound to return the favor at some point!

Don’t just think of social media as a sales tool, think of it as a way to connect with your audience on a deeper level and create a community of people with like-minds and similar interests. You never know when you may need to leverage this audience down the line to brainstorm new content ideas, campaigns and products by tapping into existing conversations or simply listening to what customers want and need.

Need help getting your social media strategy up and running? Check out our services page or contact Lauryn Gray to find out how we can help!