Our digital world has provided a whole new and complex frontier for brands; never has it been easier, yet simultaneously more difficult, to reach the public than it is right now.
To be a successful brand today means finding ways to cut through the noise that inundates consumers on a daily basis. As complicated as that may seem, the answer can be found simply by going back to the basics: “being human.”
As consumers have become more critical of marketing and advertising, public relations has finally earned a spot in strategic marketing campaigns. In the past many businesses have kept marketing and PR separate, but now PR is expected to play a bigger role in marketing strategies during the upcoming year. Businesses are turning their focus to forming relationships with their audiences (customers and potential customers alike), rather than simply shouting into the void. Here are four trends PR pros should adopt in 2020:
1. Authentic Storytelling
With consumer wariness at an all-time high, we can expect to see a greater emphasis on authentic storytelling, with more marketing teams including their PR counterparts in the strategic planning process to create a more cohesive and authentic brand story from the get-go.
Good storytelling does more than simply relay your message—it brings a human element to your business that, when done authentically, can increase engagement by allowing people to feel a personal connection with your brand (and increased engagement ultimately helps move purchase decisions forward).
In fact, a recent study found that 92% of consumers prefer ads that are in the form of stories -- and this extends to PR as well.
2. Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing has become a key part of PR strategy, and will become even more so in 2020—after all, what’s the point of having a great story if you don’t have the content to tell it? That said, all good content needs a strategy behind it.
Consumers are inundated with masses of content today, so PR professionals will need focus on delivering consistent, valuable and relevant content to their brand’s target audiences. By providing target audiences with useful content that is relevant to them, you increase the likelihood that they’ll share your content, ultimately helping to spread the word about your brand organically.
The vague term, “content” is all-encompassing and includes many forms—from photo and video to email and influencer marketing—so it’s important that PR pros guide brands towards the content and channels that will allow them to be most effective in reaching their target audiences (it’s not one-size-fits-all!).
3. Personal Branding
Nowadays, consumers want to know the people behind the brand—including CEOs, and even high-profile employees/subject matter experts. Showcasing the people who drive your brand can help build trust among audiences (authenticity, transparency, trust…there seems to be a theme here) and elevate your brand as an authority within your industry.
By highlighting your experts on social media and including content from them on your blog (or other relevant self-publishing platforms) in addition to media pitching, you can easily put a face (or faces) to your brand.
When it comes to pitching in 2020, PR pros should consider targeting more niche—and even local—media. While top-tier media outlets have long served as the “gold standard” for securing placements, the industry has seen this trend shift in recent years, with niche and local news outlets proving (in some cases greater) worth for brands. In short, it’s no longer about which outlets have the largest audience or greatest name recognition, but where your particular audience is watching/reading.
4. Using Data to Inform PR Strategies & Value
In 2020, data will play a bigger role than ever before in guiding PR efforts and measuring PR’s overall value. The digital world is now an integral part of everyday life, making interpreting data a vital skill for PR professionals. Though data has driven marketing campaigns for ages now, it tends to be an afterthought for many PR pros, despite the fact that data and analytics can help inform important decisions and greatly improve the success of overall PR strategies.
Advances in analytics technology make it easier to see everything you need about your audience; instead of simply seeing how many people are visiting your brand’s website, for example, you can now measure who is clicking on which digital campaigns and—more importantly for PR pros—where visitors are coming from.
Platforms like HubSpot* are a great way to capture and measure analytics for your website, email marketing campaigns, and social media accounts all in one place. Assessing this kind of data regularly not only helps you hone-in on who makes up your core audience—allowing you to pivot your PR strategy, if necessary—but can help you determine which of your PR efforts might be working better than others.
(At Tipping Point, we also use Scarborough—a platform typically used to inform media buying and planning strategies—to tell us what mediums our client target audiences are spending their time on, so we can focus our PR efforts on the outlets that that will bring them the highest ROI.)
As the digital world rapidly changes, so too does the PR industry. For brands to reach their audiences successfully, it will be imperative for marketing and PR teams to work together to develop authentic, consistent and relevant content that tells the story of the brand in a way that truly resonates with customers.
The bottom line is this: it’s time to focus on quality over quantity. Creating less, but more impactful, content will do greater things for your brand than constantly simply churning out content in hopes that your audeinces will see and engage with it.
And the way to provide the most impact? Just be “human.”
Thinking of adding PR to your marketing strategy this year? Let’s talk! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Tipping Point is a HubSpot Certified Partner