PR combined with social media is a hugely powerful tool that’s massively under-utilised by the industry. For too long, digital PR campaigns have been more about the perceived SEO benefit, brand awareness, or the rare triumph of driving sales directly from a campaign. Social media is the stepping stone that pushes your campaign in front of more eyes and can effectively funnel your customers consistently back to you after viewing a campaign.
Often social media is forgotten as it’s one of those tasks that takes up a lot of time but doesn’t always have an immediate effect; people believe that you need to go viral to really make an impact. Sadly it’s still often viewed as a “soft” marketing platform, where you waste time and money looking at cat videos, compared to bigger players such as TV or print. In reality, the vast majority of most businesses’ target markets are now predominantly making their purchase decisions online. Did you know that 83% of people use Instagram to discover new products and services, and 87% said they took specific valuable action after seeing product information, which includes following a brand, visiting their website or making a purchase?
Social media gives PR traction that is incomparable elsewhere. We’ve all seen the viral potential that even the most simple of PR stunts, slogans or ads can have when social media takes hold. But even without viral campaigns, organic social media is key for nurturing customers, building their trust and loyalty by remaining in front of their eyes and showing the personality of the brand behind the campaigns. Consistency is key here – it’s all about reminding your customers that you exist and what your brand messaging is, but at a consistent level of quality rather than pumping out a large quantity of low quality posts.
When you run a new digital PR campaign, we recommend consolidating the entire campaign with your brand by considering how best you can communicate the message in it. Many brands will create a simple press release or piece of content that is sent out with the brand’s name and link on it. Instead, you can not only publish this on a page on your site, whether that’s a blog or standalone page (with relevant internal links within the site to ramp up that SEO link juice!), but also across social media. This may be as simple as sharing a link to the blog post where the campaign is hosted, or it may be creating a series of unique posts with images, videos and graphics to highlight important features or findings from your campaign. Having this level of consistency helps to consolidate your brand, position you as the expert in the topic you’re promoting, and also provides the opportunity for further sharing from media who are interested in the piece.
And organic social media isn’t just useful for promoting PR campaigns to increase ROI. It’s also an excellent listening tool that can help inform your PR campaigns. Once you’ve built and nurtured an audience of your target market on social media, it’s far easier to predict which types of content will hit best as PR campaigns. Even using competitors’ social media feeds and reactions can help you gauge how well your audience will respond as well as give inspiration for future ideas, as well as trending topics and upcoming trends.
A personal favourite way to integrate digital PR and social media is using paid social ads. Once the traction on your digital PR campaign has begun to slow, it can be easy to move onto a new campaign, leaving that one alone, unless the content can be rehashed for a new year or reused as an evergreen campaign – although opportunities for this are relatively low.
Instead we recommend using that traction in another way. When your PR campaign has hit well enough that it’s driving people through to your site, retargeting that audience using data gathered by your Facebook Pixel will ensure that this core market is being channelled through your funnel – building their awareness about your brand, reminding them that you exist and what you do, then nurturing them further until they become customers who are willing to advocate for your brand. A PR campaign can only take a potential customer so far, especially if it is a news based piece that they only see once; a PR campaign integrated with a paid social strategy is a big hit.
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