Technology & Social Media: How They’re Revolutionizing the PR Game

As an intern and a college student, I try to be a sponge and soak up as much IMGknowledge as I can. After three years of general education classes and longing for some real world experience, I finally got to dive into public relations and marketing in school as well as in my summer internship at AWeber. With a fresh pair of eyes and a spot on the marketing team at a modern, technology driven company, I’ve been able to see what PR practices are being utilized and what seems to be becoming the new industry standard. What I’ve come to learn is that social media, other technologies, and the internet in general are rapidly changing the game.

For starters, everything is online now. This can be seen as a blessing or a curse. It’s a blessing because businesses are able to have a huge reach in areas that they could have never dreamed of before. Someone 2,000 miles away could be reading this blog post right now and that is a truly amazing thing. At the same time, however, this means that everyone and their mother can put anything they want on the internet. More content means more competition. It’s harder to get the media to accept your pitch when they’re getting 500 emails a day from other agencies and businesses.

This brings me to my next point. Creativity and innovation are key in today’s world where everyone has access to almost every article that’s ever been written with one quick Google search. Most stories have already been written. That’s why it’s important to put an 180 degree angle on whatever story you’re pitching in order to get reporters and journalists to bite at it. Run of the mill stories and articles won’t get picked up unless they are buzz-worthy and offer a new, fresh perspective.

Because of the growth of the internet, it’s important to make your online presence loud and clear. The more media outlets and social media networks you’re on, you’ll have a better chance of reaching more publics and growing you or your client’s business. As a young adult and YouTube vlogger enveloped in the online world, I see too many companies with botched social media accounts. Some seem to be made with little effort and others seem to just not fully understand what they are doing. Too many businesses don’t think with the mind’s of consumers.

Social media does need to make sense in the context of your business, but it’s also equally (if not more) important that it looks good and grabs people’s attention. For example, if you run a jewelry company, you can’t just post pictures on your Instagram account of every necklace you’ve ever made. Yes, people want to see the products you’re offering, but you need to be creative and switch it up in order to make sure you’re getting loyal followers who actually look forward to seeing the content you post each day. Post pictures of your jewelry paired with cute clothing or grouped with other accessories. Posting a funny or inspirational quote that your demographic can relate to is also a good way to change up your content. Additionally, the timing of each post is just as important to get optimum reach. Look at accounts with 100k followers for inspiration. They’re obviously doing something right.

Keeping social media in mind, a lot of newer companies are capitalizing on the fame of bloggers and Instagrammers by getting their products in the hands of these social media celebrities. By offering a free wardrobe full of new clothes to a fashion blogger along with a nice commission, these companies are making the right move. These days, people go gaga for their favorite Instagrammers and want to use/buy everything they see them use. The fact that these sponsored posts don’t feel like traditional advertisements really helps because it feels like raw, original content rather than an annoying, pushy commercial or billboard.

Although PR is still a relatively new concept and term in the business world, it’s changing and growing rapidly. Newspaper clippings are no longer the go-to measurement for success, a strong online presence has become standard, and social media has completely changed the relevance of traditional advertising. The bottom line is that nothing is ever set in stone. Tactics change constantly and it’s up to every PR professional to stay on their toes while searching for the next new way to drive awareness to their company.

Julia McNamee is the Marketing Intern at AWeber. She’s also a Corporate Communication major at Penn State, a part-time freelance makeup artist, and a YouTube vlogger. Check her out on YouTube. (www.youtube.com/jaayforever).

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Shopping Gets Social: Pinterest and Instagram Updates

 

Mobile-shopping-525x600As the digital landscape has transformed the way we send, receive and seek information, online shopping has increased significantly in the last few years. Research by Wipro Digital found that in 2013, 36 percent of U.S. shoppers reported doing the majority of their shopping online, and since then, ecommerce has increased by 25 percent. Today, 61 percent of U.S. shoppers are making the majority of their purchases online. This trend will continue to grow this year. According to Wipro, 50 percent of U.S. shoppers plan to do more shopping online, while only 4 percent plan to make more in-store purchases.

On June 2, Pinterest and Instagram unveiled “Buy buttons” that allow users to purchase items they see while scrolling through Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds on their mobile devices. On Pinterest, you will now see “buyable pins,” enabling users to search for pins within a specific price range, product color and more, while buying directly through Pinterest’s mobile app. Rich pins (pins with information for ingredients and DIY projects) will also have “buy it” buttons, so users will be able to buy the list of products without leaving Pinterest.

While scrolling through Instagram, you will see ads with “Shop Now,” “Install Now,”  “Sign Up” and “Learn More” buttons. These features are an addition to Instagram’s carousel ads that launched in March and will help companies with their selling and marketing efforts on social media. For companies, these new ad features will have better targeting options based on age, location, gender, interests, places and other demographics.

Some marketers believe these new features on Pinterest and Instagram will increase brands’ conversion rates and boost engagement and sales, but others believe these features don’t help them get to know their consumers enough.

While the new buyable pins on Pinterest could significantly increase company sales and enhance the consumer experience, some people do not believe the same can be said for Instagram. Adam Padilla, creative director of BrandFire, describes the new Instagram features as “risky” and “a mistake.” As an Instagram user with over 17,000 followers, he doesn’t want to feel like he’s shopping while he scrolls through his feed. Padilla described Instagram as more of a personal experience than Pinterest and said Pinterest was similar to a marketplace like Etsy.

With these features, companies will have to be cautious and think about their digital strategies because consumers don’t want to feel like their Pinterest searches and Instagram feeds are being taken over by ads.

While some believe these updates won’t help drive sales, others believe these features will make shopping even easier with instant access to products. One thing is for sure, digital technology is changing the way we live our lives, and these new features on Pinterest and Instagram have the potential to change the way we view products and make purchases.

Megan Healy is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. She is an active member of Temple University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and is an account executive for PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s student-run PR firm. She will be studying abroad in London this summer and will be graduating this December. Follow Megan on Twitter at @Meg_Healy_ and connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/meganhealy22.

Social Media Landscape for 2015

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Social media is ever-changing and you need to stay ahead of the curve in order to get the most out of it. It is crucial to include social media in public relations and marketing plans. Cass Bailey, CEO of Slice Communications, presented as the keynote speaker at the recent Philadelphia Chapter meeting of NACE (National Association for Catering and Events). She explained the value of social media for the event industry in particular but the same thoughtful concepts apply across all industries.

First things first, what are your goals?

  • Brand Awareness
  • Thought Leadership
  • Sales/Lead Generation
  • Community Relations
  • Market Research
  • Customer Service
  • Recruiting

Once you identify your goals and your key audiences you are ready to put together a strategic social media plan. As always, relevant content is key but enhancing the reach through paid advertising on Facebook and Twitter is an area that has grown a lot in 2014. Your efforts will not be as valuable if your target audiences are not carefully selected. Be mindful of who you want to  reach out to and what actions you would like them to take.

An example of targeting a specific audience on Facebook that Cass used was engaged women within 50 miles of Philadelphia. There are over 50,000 individuals with the potential of being customers.

Slice Communications is a successful integrated public relations and social media agency headquartered in Philly. Connect with Cass Bailey on Twitter at @Cassapedia and @SliceComm.

To view Cass’s complete presentation click here.

This post was written by Nina Scimenes. Nina is PPRA’s VP of Communications and Marketing Manager at Brûlée Catering. She positions the catering brand as a premier event company in the Philadelphia region by being the voice of Brûlée on social media and maintains the website content while fostering relationships with the community and the press. Nina graduated from Cabrini College with a degree in Communications and minor in Graphic Design. Follow her on Twitter: @NinaScim and @Brulee_Catering.

Photo Credit: Phillip Gabriel Photography

How Search Engine Optimization Benefits the Field of Public Relations

seoimage1As a content writer for 1SEO.com, an award-winning digital marketing agency headquartered in Levittown, PA, I have written numerous pieces of search engine optimized (SEO) content that is used to help websites rank better in the search engines. Companies hire our agency to help them achieve visibility in the search engines so that they can gain more consumerism by providing customers with the information they seek.

The same concept is pretty much used in the field of PR but more for advertising and promotional purposes. PR is mainly about establishing and maintaining relationships for beneficial reasons. Combining the two initiatives can produce positive marketing results. If SEO and PR went on a date together, they’d make a really great couple – and, maybe some good-looking babies.

The Digital PR Outlet
Blogs, websites, and online press releases are all virtual channels that are used to target audiences on the internet in the field of public relations. But did you know that these channels are also used for search engine optimization purposes? Put the two objectives together and you’ve got yourself a double marketing bonanza.

Sure, the old-school PR methods such as the distribution of pamphlets and flyers still work, but advances in technology have generated new strategies of how public relations can successfully be initiated in the digital world. One of these strategies is conducted through the use of content search engine optimization. If I sound like I’m speaking a foreign language, read the next paragraph to form a new wrinkle in your brain.

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SEO: A Very Short Explanation of What it is
Most savvy internet junkies that grew up with the development of computers already know that search engines are digital platforms such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. These websites find information instantly on the internet when words, questions, or phrases are typed into their query bar. The engines are designed to arrange all the webpage findings from the most informative match of terms to the least through a ranking process. Algorithms, links, keywords and quality content are all factors that help the engines decipher which websites are the most valuable and provide the best information. In short, optimization is a method used by digital marketers to elevate information to the top of the results so that users can consume it.

The SEO and PR Mix Up – It’s a Small World After All
So how does the field of public relations fit into the use of search engine optimization in content? It enhances and improves the marketing goal of the PR campaign being operated through the internet. With the instant connection to millions of online users, audiences can be targeted through quality SEO content. As long as the content is well-written, not duplicated, contains a minimal amount of keywords and has healthy links, it can assist in reaching out to an audience using SEO principles.

Need to announce the 40th anniversary of a company or inform the community of a huge event? An SEO enhanced published piece of content about it can produce promotional victory – as long as it successfully shows up high in the results listing. When a user searches for a term that associates with the event or company, they’ll be able to find it.

seoimage3The Scheme Reversed
In a way, SEO content can cause the PR channel method to work backwards.  Typically when it comes to public relations, an audience is targeted first and then a strategy is planned out to expose the information. But with successful search engine optimized content, the audience discovers the information on their own. Instead of introducing the information to the audience through the use of a strategized channel, the focus group comes to you by searching queries in the engines.

But don’t think you’re going to be a sudden informational magnet – much work still goes into an SEO campaign to initiate an effective plan. The typical PR approach is still necessary to attract the right audience through the use of links and keywords in the content.

The Right Attraction
The best thing about content in a PR SEO campaign is that it helps keep the audience engaged even after they have found the information, so that they keep coming back for more. If you are using a blog to connect with the online community, great content will encourage them to subscribe or keep checking back for new updates. A company website with quality SEO content will gain trust from new visitors, who in turn will continue to come back.

That One Hitch
It is important to mention the few drawbacks that SEO campaigns can have when it comes to public relations. One is that the digital platform has to be able to rank high in the search engine listings, or else audiences will not be able to discover it. If it doesn’t, gaining trust in the search engine rankings can be a lengthy process, but the good thing is that it is fixable.

That’s where our digital marketing experts at 1SEO.com come in, since they have the skills to analyze data, diagnose issues, and develop an SEO strategy that will bring websites to the top of the rankings. In the meantime, other digital marketing strategies can help reach out to targeted audiences, such as social media tactics.

A Need for Text and an Endless Network
As search engine optimization (SEO) evolves with the change in program updates and algorithms, the field of public relations can be adapted to use it to meet marketing objectives. There are various advantages that PR pros can obtain from using search engine optimized content. Both certainly go hand in hand when it comes to providing information, promoting, and developing positive relationships.

The internet remains an open channel for limitless communication that PR practitioners and digital marketers will use to their advantage. In a digital informational playground that delivers constant results, SEO and PR can balance out on the seesaw of internet marketing. It’s up to you whether it tips up or down.

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Michelle Brown is a content writer for 1SEO.com where she generates search engine optimized content such as blogs and press releases for clients. She loves that she contributes to helping both small and large businesses gain consumerism through the use of the internet.  Michelle graduated from Rowan University with a degree in Writing Arts and wrote for the college newspaper, The Whit. She enjoys writing a variety of genres and loves to be creative. You can check out her writing at http://acolorofwriting.weebly.com/ and follow her on Twitter: @michelle1seo and @mybrownwords.