Getting Ahead with Influencer Engagement

By Paige Knapp, Devine + Partners

Can we level with you for a second? Sometimes, standing out on social media seems impossible among all of the digital noise.

We’re up against a lot these days. New and constantly changing algorithms that purposefully limit the reach of brand pages as a response to fake news. Lower visibility, over-saturated feeds, and increasingly-skeptical audiences. Millennials are heading out, and the illusive Gen Z is moving in. Twitter was “supposed” to disappear years ago, and instead Vine has already died and been reborn….kind of. Is your head spinning yet? Same.

We’ve been harping on this for some time – you may remember our podcast episode dedicated to this topic – but we feel confident that there is an answer to all many of these pain points.  They’re called influencers and we call our practice – influencer engagement.

Instead of throwing hundreds of posts at the digital wall and seeing what sticks, influencers offer a route to cut through the clutter and directly reach the audience you want to engage. And, while you’re at it, you get the endorsement of a voice that these users trust. It’s like word-of-mouth, except on the internet, and probably a lot more visual, with a few emojis sprinkled in.

Engaging influencers can feel complicated and confusing at first. How do you identify them? Are these relationships earned, or paid? How much messaging input is too much before content feels forced, and not organic?

Woof. Overwhelming? Sure. But influencer engagement is the new frontier, and a bit like the wild wild west. Some of these questions will never have concrete answers but instead of waiting, just jump in. Start slowly and build a larger program over time. Influencer engagement can be simple and low-barrier. Trust us, it is worth your time to dig in. Recently, team D+P engaged a key set of influencers for our  client, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. We invited them to the venue for dinner and a show, no strings attached. Here’s what we gained, and what you stand to gain, too.

  1. New and expanded relationships. Our target list included three categories: members of the media, bloggers across our local region, and strictly social media influencers. For those we know and have worked with before, this was a new kind of touchpoint to build on past interactions. For others, reaching out to invite them to our event was a great way to kick off a new relationship. For everyone, it was a time to network with one another and enjoy an evening under the stars together. Win, win, win.
  2. Shareable content. In this case, we simply wanted to expose the group to the Mann and a great night out. No sharing or posting required. Even so, the group spontaneously created and shared plenty of fabulous, well-messaged content throughout the night. We were able to monitor, share and save the posts. This is fabulous fodder for the client’s own social media to share now and down the road, and shows that the influencers’ audiences were hearing all about the event, but through the unique lens of someone they know and trust.

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3. Getting in early to a new audience. The downward trajectory of traditional media is clear which is why D+P is creating new strategies to reach audiences. The rise of social media creates a demand for instant information. Finding and cultivating valuable, like-minded influencers, outside of just having your own brand platforms, is going to be key as the media landscape continues to shift. Instead of playing catch up, you’ll be leading the pack.

There is real return on investment – both immediate and long-term – when engaging with influencers. Now is the time to get on board. If you are ready to engage social media influencers, shoot us an email at resteasy@devinepartners.com.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

 

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Why You Need to Invest in Public Relations

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By Buchanan Public Relations

As companies strive to expand their digital footprint, and with presence on social media a growing priority, it’s never been a better time to invest in public relations. BPR President Anne Buchanan offered nine good reasons in a Public Relations Global Network blog post last week.

“You don’t want your first interaction with the media to be when your company is at its worst,” says Ms. Buchanan. “Investing in regular public relations ensures that crucial relationships are already in place when you might need support.”

Still need some convincing? The BPR team offers even more reasons to invest in PR:

“PR professionals are ideal communications consultants. We can help a company see potential impacts from all angles and determine the best messaging for the most favorable outcome. We’re hyper-aware of sensitive issues and language that can elicit negative emotions, which can help a company avoid unintended snafus. And we can inherently understand the most impactful and meaningful messages within a story to help it best resonate with the audience.” – Megan Keohane, Assistant Vice President

“Despite what some websites and blogs may tell you, PR is not something a CEO can do herself. In addition to it requiring a special set of talents, relationships and experience, it takes an exceptional amount of time away from running the company. It’s important to not only invest in PR, but to invest in an agency or PR practitioner who can help you do it well.”– Nicole Lasorda, Vice President

Every company has a unique story to tell. PR raises awareness around that story in creative, inspired and innovative ways that might otherwise go unseen.” – Lauren Force, Account Coordinator

“A strategic public relations program can position your company as the expert in your subject matter to prospective clients, existing clients and peers.” – John Reynolds, Senior Account Executive

“An organization should invest in PR because it’s one of the best ways to cultivate and protect its story. If companies don’t invest in PR, they risk having the media and general public write their own version of their story – which may end up being the exact opposite of how those organizations want to be portrayed.” – Jen Tedeschi, Account Executive

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

8 Powerful Email Copywriting Techniques

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By Kaleigh Moore, AWeber Communications

Anyone who’s ever written a marketing email has asked themselves these questions:

  • How do I get my subscribers to open this?
  • How do I get them to take action?
  • Did they even *see* me in their inbox?

Not getting the results you’re after might make you want to visit your subscribers one-by-one and personally remind them to read your emails and click your links.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do anything so drastic. By following some basic rules of copywriting, you can dramatically increase your email engagement and get subscribers to take action.

Here are a few best practices you can start using in your email copy right away.

(Want to start sending amazing emails to your subscribers today? Try a 30-day free trial of AWeber. Test out our  ridiculously easy-to-use Drag-and-Drop editor and industry-leading deliverability.)

Use a Conversational Tone

Your goal is to communicate. This starts with everyday language, short sentences, and short paragraphs.

Famous writer Elmore Leonard said: “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”

That’s a good rule. Your copy should read as close to spoken English as possible. It should be easy to read and easy to scan. Big words don’t make you sound smart — they make you sound like someone trying to sound smart.

So how do you know if you’re writing conversationally?

According to Copy Hackers, a conversion copywriting site, Dr. Suess is a good example of how to use short words and short sentences in a way that captivates the reader.

If you need more help simplifying your writing, check out Hemingway App. It flags overly complex sentences and assigns a reading level to your writing (the lower, the better.) This post, for example, reads at a sixth grade level. That’s about where you want to be writing.

Avoid Jargon, Buzzwords, and Acronyms

Jargon, buzzwords, and acronyms are an epidemic these days — especially in the world of tech and startups.

Jargon and acronyms can alienate readers who don’t know what you’re talking about. You might as well speak gibberish to them. Instead of using these overly technical terms or abbreviations, be sure to use simple, easy-to-understand language and to spell out terms before you use them in acronym form.

As for trendy buzzwords: Try to think beyond them. Words like ‘pivot’ and ‘disruption’ are becoming cliches that make people tune you out and take you less seriously.

Instead, take the time to come up with simple alternatives:

  • Cohort = customer group
  • BoFU = Bottom of the funnel
  • Virality = popularity

This is really just the tip of the iceberg, though. Forbes has a list of the most obnoxious startup jargon — like ‘rockstar’ and ‘hacking’ — while TechRepublic suggests we stop using these 10 Buzzwords, like ‘curation’ and ‘freemium’.

Write a Killer Subject Line

Headlines have always been the foundation of good copy. In email marketing, your subject line is what gets you opened and read. Without a good one, you’ve got nothing.

When writing your email’s subject line, think about:

  • Personalization: By personalizing your subject line, you can increase open rates by 50%, according to Marketing Dive. That might mean incorporating a subscriber’s first name in your subject line to make the message feel tailor-made.
  • Curiosity: Evoking a sense of curiosity in the the reader can get that person to click through and open your email. Ex: Want a chance to win $100?
  • Scarcity: Promoting limited time or quantity items can create a sense of urgency around your email that piques interest and drives conversions.

If you need more help figuring out a home-run subject line, here are 6 subject line formulas that will improve your open rates.

Know the Medium

One reason that email remains the number one marketing channel is that it gives you the power to talk directly to your audience. You’re leaving money on the table if your copy doesn’t reflect this.

Why “batch and blast” with the same generic message to everyone when email gives you the power to personalize, segment, and automate? After all, automation can increase leads, conversions, and revenue…and it can save you time.

The stats prove it: Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than other marketing messages, according to Epsilon Email Institute.

And here at AWeber, we saw a 118% increase in open rates when we segmented our audience. We sent smaller groups of subscribers the exact information they were interested in, instead of sending our entire list the same exact content.

Set up automated emails that help make every email you send relevant, interesting, and timely. Click here for your crash course in email automation.

Write for People (because businesses can’t read)

The term B2B is misleading because you’re not writing for businesses — you’re writing for decision-makers within a business. Humans, in other words.

This is why we take the time to come up with buyer personas that reflect our customers’ unique needs. These people have emotions, so don’t just throw statistics at them. Don’t just use logic to appeal to their minds. Aim for the heart and connect on an emotional level.

In your emails, use emotion-based principles like reciprocity, commitment, and social proof (to name a few) to make an emotional plea to your readers.

Agitate Problems, Then Solve Them

Whether you’re outlining single email or an entire campaign, this is your formula:

  1. Identify a problem (P)
    Ex: Need an easier way to open cans.
  2. Agitate that problem (A)
    Ex: Isn’t it frustrating to use a hand crank can opener? It’s slow, hard work.
  3. Present your solution (S)
    Ex: With the electric can opener, you can open aluminum cans in seconds with no effort.

TV infomercials absolutely nail PAS. A voiceover identifies a problem: “Do you always end up making way too much pasta?” Then a montage in black and white agitates the problem with people tripping over big tangles of spaghetti in the kitchen. Finally, we get the solution: A happy family eating just the right amount of pasta, thanks to the Pasta-Matic.

Obviously, there are other reasons not to copy what infomercials do, but they give a larger-than-life example of this formula in action. The key is to be relevant. There are millions of problems out there, and most of them don’t matter to your reader.

The problem has to be real, not just an excuse to talk about your product. In an email, your copy needs to express a genuine understanding of what this problem means to your potential customers — and then swoop in with a simple solution.

Don’t Be Too Salesy

You don’t have to be salesy just because you’re selling something.

Email readers have a good sense for “salesy” tactics (like when you try to get them to click on a CTA with misleading copy), and 9 times out of 10, it will alienate your audience. These days, people have zero tolerance for interruption, pressure, tricks, and manipulation. The reason: Research shows online attention spans are shorter than ever, and therefore most people have developed a strong detector for these time-wasting tactics.

But you still want to sell to them. What can you do about that?

Simple: Tell stories instead.

Storytelling is the opposite of being salesy. You can still drive traffic, convert, close, and all of those nice things without resorting to cheeseball tactics. The great thing about storytelling is it’s actually less work than being salesy. You don’t have to resort to tricks and hacks. You simply communicate in a way that’s clear and interesting.

Stories (be it personal, fictional, etc.) are how our brains evolved to learn new information. According to science, we’re hardwired to take in stories. By harnessing this powerful form of communication, you’re putting tens of thousands of years of evolution on your side.

Parting Wisdom: Don’t Stop Learning

A final catch-all tip: never stop learning. Writing is a skill that takes time and practice to master.

And continue to read content by great writers. We recommend Ann Handley’s newsletter. She’s an author and AWeber customer who sends interesting, smart, and beautifully-written stories in her newsletter Total Annarchy.

For copywriting tips, sign up for AWeber customer Henneke Duistermaat’s Enchanting Marketing emails.

For the basics of grammar and composition with books like Eats, Shoots & Leaves and the classic (but always relevant) Elements of Style.

Want more copywriting and email tips delivered to your inbox? Sign up for the the AWeber blog newsletter and get actionable email-specific advice week after week!

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

Why an Email Signature Matters

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By Rose Strong, Furia Rubel Communications

First there was the pony express, homing pigeons, the telegram and the U.S. Postal Service. From there evolved the fax machine. In the 40-plus years since the first email was sent, we’ve come a long way with these quick, instant-style versions of mail messages. There’s Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail and a plethora of others out there transmitting electronic mail.

As it has evolved over the decades, email has practically replaced the postal service and fax machines in getting messages from one person to another in a near immediate fashion, making it an ideal form of communication.

For a public relations and marketing agency such as Furia Rubel, it is practically impossible to effectively do our jobs and work with our clients without email. I think most businesses today are in the same position of using email to be competitive, responsive and efficient.

Making the best use of the resources we have, Furia Rubel takes email just a step further and not only uses it for communication, but to display our contact info, our brand and give a call to action when needed. This blog from Hubspot, 12 Clever Ways to Use Your Email Signature to Support Your Marketing Campaigns , gives some great ideas for using this nearly overlooked means of communication.

An example of a professional email signature below displays my full name, my job title, our key services, the company address, phone number, my email and the company website. I am on LinkedIn and there’s a link to my profile on that social media platform.

In addition to all the relatively basic info, my signature states that Furia Rubel has been voted number one in several industry publication reader surveys. This email signature also includes a link to a survey and asks the reader to vote for Furia Rubel Communications. We’ve also cut down on text here to make it look tighter and more readable, by including a link to our confidentiality notice.

 

Using an email signature not only helps convey your brand, but it’s like sending out your business card every time you email someone. It’s also a sign that you’re a professional and conveys legitimacy of your position and brand. If everyone in your establishment uses the same style, you’re presenting a sense of unity for your law firm.

As the office manager, when I’m forwarded an email from a new contact, I make up a virtual business card in our database if it’s someone we’ll keep in contact with such as a potential client, a vendor, a member of the media or a referral source. If the person has an email signature at the bottom of their email, I simply copy and paste the information provided. It works like a charm. It also allows me to check out their website, social media presence and if they have a call-to-action they are anxious for folks to view.

Making the best use of all the resources available to you will help spread your brand message. An inconsequential seeming email is one small way to refer to your brand and make a big impact at the same time.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.

Your Content Marketing Should Advertise For You

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Content marketing featuring informational and emotional posts, like these from Holy Redeemer Health System, can help turn consumers into patients, and even brand loyalists.

By SPRYTE Communications

Emotional Appeals, Useful Information Will Help Build Loyalty

There are many avenues to turning consumers into patients, but one of the best is to connect with them through your digital content marketing program. Reaching them on the platforms they frequent, and providing both useful information and content that resonates emotionally can support your organization’s business strategy while building loyalty. Simply put, creating content that does your advertising for you is smart brand strategy.

A recent NESHCO (New England Society for Healthcare Communications) webinar, presented by digital strategists with S/P/M Marketing & Communications, peeled back the layers of a successful content marketing campaign. Like everything else when it comes to crafting a marketing campaign, research, planning and honing your strategy are vital first steps.

Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing

Before launching your content marketing activities, devise your strategy. It was noted that content strategy is based on your research-driven internal communications foundation, and represents your vision and mission. Content marketing, on the other hand, is focused on external communications, should drive consumer engagement, and puts a premium on measurement and analytics. Out of your strategy will come a long-term plan that aligns with your business goals, and  better understanding of what kinds of content will work best for the organization.

Important questions to answer include:

  • What are our goals?
  • Who makes up our target audience?
  • Where to they like to get their content?

Don’t worry about being on all or even most of the the big social media channels; identify those where your audiences are and which will work the best for achieving your goals, and focus on them.

Content “Buckets” and Mapping the Consumer Journey

It’s helpful during planning to create three or more “buckets” in which to put content. Typically, these would include:

  • Utility – Useful/actionable information that makes life better or easier, presented in an easily digestible way, including factoids and infographics.
  • Emotion – Content that triggers an emotional response.
  • Entertainment – Content that entertains in a clever, humorous or attention-grabbing way.

Under each bucket you’ll ultimately come up with content topics, and, under them, what the presenters called “content franchises.” A content franchise is a series of like-themed posts that prove successful, like patient stories, testimonials, or “expert tips.”

The strategic use of your content franchises will help you shepherd your audience from passive consumers to brand advocates. This consumer journey comprises Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Loyalty, and finally Advocacy.

Public relations, paid advertising, SEO, owned media (including your website), boosted content and word of mouth all play a role in this evolution, but valuable content is the throughline cutting across all of the phases. Compelling testimonials, for example, can move someone from consideration to decision. Powerful patient success stories can build loyalty, as people want content that validates their decision.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind for a successful content marketing campaign:

  • Repurposing a single piece of content for various digital assets can extend its shelf life, but planning for that upfront is key, so you don’t have to retrofit.
  • Use editorial calendars to plan content well in advance.
  • Determine your “voice” (conversational, authoritative, friendly, etc.) and stick with it. Consistency in voice, tone, and style across all your content is very important.
  • Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Mobile users surpassed desktop users two years ago.
  • Incorporate SEO in your content strategy. Content will impact your SEO, and vice versa.
  • Authentic imagery works better for building connections than stock art.
  • When using video, keep it short (under 90 seconds), and showcase emotion or a service that differentiates your organization.

Creating a content marketing campaign requires legwork up front, and ongoing diligence to ensure your messages support your business goals and are being received. But the payoff both in patient converts and your organization’s reputation is well worth it.

Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at skrasowski@rmahq.org.