Four Reasons Publicist is a Dirty Word

 

By Julie Wright —President
Twitter: @juliewright


Has your mom ever used your childhood nickname in front of your adult friends? That’s how I feel when someone uses the term publicist or publicity to describe my work.

Generating positive media coverage is definitely among the many functions performed by a public relations professional. But the word “publicist” says nothing of the research, strategy, messaging and many other thoughtful, and even artful, activities that go into a successful public relations program. The word, in my opinion, minimizes my work.

For that reason, I would like to see “publicist” buried next to “flack” and “spin doctor.”

Public relations professionals are strategic communicators.

Two years ago, PRSA’s 2017 Chair, Jane Dvorak, addressed the PRSA Western District Conference in Riverside, Calif. urging attendees to see themselves as leaders, strategists and analysts. To my ear, “publicist” is a label that says none of those things. Two years later, I continue to hear this term applied to describe work that is only about 10-20 percent producing media coverage.

If you’re not convinced that “publicist” needs to go, give these four points careful consideration, and let me know if they help change your thinking. (If you already agree, these may help you convert or at least educate others.)

1. Publicists Produce Transactions. PR Pros Build Relationships.

We work in a very transactional environment today. Marketing and communications outcomes are boiled down to clicks, likes, links and conversions, but the stakeholders who need to receive your messages are not clicks and conversions—they’re real human beings who crave meaningful emotional connections with other real human beings.

This absolutely includes journalists.

Media databases like Cision and Meltwater make it much easier to build a big list than a targeted one. Journalists become email addresses and not people. Instead of building a relationship with the media, this transactional approach plays a numbers game. Ultimately, when the media gripes about getting a PR pitch addressed to the wrong name or that’s a country mile off the mark, it’s because they’re not being communicated to as human beings.

Public relations requires building understanding, changing perceptions and motivating behaviors and beliefs. Those kinds of outcomes need a relational versus transactional approach, which requires understanding your audiences and treating them as humans. This can be accomplished through surveys, interviews and focus groups and using that information to create personas.

Publicity is just too limiting a term to encompass these approaches.

2. Publicity is a Tactic. Public Relations Requires Strategy.

As public relations professionals, we can’t fulfill our role and responsibilities with a tactical mindset. We must think strategically.

From research to message development and testing to creative—strategy drives the choices we make, and those choices drive our campaign results. Did we communicate in a manner that earned our audience’s attention and resonated with them so that their perceptions, beliefs and behaviors were impacted?

I equate publicity with none of the above. Instead, I picture someone producing a bunch of press clippings which is useful if stroking your client’s ego is the only goal of your campaign.

3. A Publicist’s Communication is One-Way. PR Requires Listening.

There is far more pitching, posting and publishing than listening on social media and the web these days. I like the term coined by Mark Schaefer five years ago, Content Shock, to sum up the impact of content marketing run rampant. Schaefer pointed out then how the pace and volume of content being produced far exceeded the pace and volume of content being consumed.

Anyone today who is pushing content or a message without creating a way for the recipient to engage, respond and be heard is missing a huge opportunity to build relationships.

Communicators who create space for their stakeholders to be heard are the ones doing it right. When a crisis hits, they’ll be able to engage in conversations with their customers or investors rather than an avalanche of angry or outraged Tweets and Facebook posts.

The brands that weather crises more easily than others are those that have built relationships and goodwill with their stakeholders. And those are the brands being stewarded by strategic communicators and not publicists.

4. Publicity is About Earned Media. Public Relations Crosses All Media.

A decade ago, traditional media outlets underwent an implosion, while podcasts, online videos, blogs and social media storytelling platforms exploded. In the aftermath of these two trends, traditional media gatekeepers like the daily newspaper or evening newscast have lost their ability to influence public perception at scale.

Earned media was once the bread and butter of the public relations function, but today, it is just one of several communication platforms our profession employs to reach and engage with its stakeholders.

The contemporary integrated approach, sometimes referred to as the PESO Model, combines paid, earned, shared and owned media. Paid media can include social media ads and boosting or Google AdWords. Earned media includes press coverage but can include analyst relations, awards and speaking opportunities that imply and/or impart third-party validation. Shared media refers to social networks like Facebook but also review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Owned media describes all of the creative assets at your disposal to engage your audiences and to interact with them directly including print, digital and multimedia content.

Publicity is a component of only one of those four platforms, making it an inadequate label for describing what today’s strategic communicators do.

So, Let’s Retire the Term Publicist and Champion the Role of Strategic Communicator.

It’s time to toss this transactional, tactical, and out-of-touch term. It’s old school and perpetuates a narrow stereotype of what public relations today actually is. Publicity is about as apropos to what my team and I do every day at (W)right On Communications as my childhood nickname is to my adult identity. Now, if only I could get my mom to stop calling me Oobies.

B2B Integrated Marketing: 5 Step Foolproof Guide

B2B Integrated Marketing

By Chance Shay Director of B2B and Infrastructure Development

Twitter: @ChanceShay 


Marketing communications in silos doesn’t work. If your PR efforts aren’t aligned with your content marketing and your digital marketing is on a different frequency, you’re setting yourself up for a not-so-fun conversation with your CMO. In a time when the average attention span is eight seconds and where humans are producing the same amount of data in two days as was generated in all of human existence leading up to 2003, it’s easy to see why each individual marcomm channel is less effective in isolation.

But with a challenge comes an opportunity. By syncing up all of their efforts, marketers are able to make the overall impact of marcomm efforts far greater than their individual sums. This is integrated marketing.

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the only marketing strategy that is effective in 2017. It optimizes the communication of a consistent message from a brand to stakeholders by integrating communication channels and harnessing the benefits of each channel, which amplifies their impact beyond what they could achieve individually.

The entertainment industry has done this for years. At Comic Con, you’ll see the same message about a new movie being promoted on advertisements (paid), conveyed during interviews and editorial stories (earned), used on social media (shared) and said during the panel discussion with the movie’s stars (owned).

B2B brands have to take this same approach, but with a few key changes. To help, we’ve put together a foolproof, five-step guide to help any B2B brand nail its integrated marketing plan.

1) Define the business objective

An obvious first step, but it’s essential that the integrated marketing flow from the brand’s overall business objective. Whether stealing market share or creating a new category, the brand’s big picture goal will drive everything from strategy to KPIs and execution.

2) Know thy audience

More than just understanding the type of business that’s a good fit for your service or product (i.e. a SMB in cleantech with $10-25 million in revenue), a brand must have a rich, granular picture of who is most likely to purchase their product and why. The “why” is important for establishing and framing the unique selling proposition for any good or service, but the “who” is the most important for structuring your IMC plan. Is your customer likely to be innovative or more risk adverse? What’s important to your customer in how they operate their business and the culture they create internally? Is a top tier trade outlet or a general news daily with huge name cachet more influential to them? For example, if the decision makers for your prospective customers are millennials, you’ll want to know they are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites than older generations. That impacts strategy in a meaningful way, so get as holistic a view of your audience(s) as possible.

3) Set SMART communications goals that support the business objective

Like with most sound strategies, for IMC planning you must start with the end goal and work backward to develop a plan for how to get there. What is it – in a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time dimensioned way – that you’re wanting the plan to achieve. Is it to drive a 20 percent increase in free trial sign-ups? Is it to grow website traffic for key landing pages by 30 percent? At the end of the day, for B2B brands it all boils down to driving revenue. The marcomm component is meant to move new business prospects down the marketing funnel from being brand aware to being brand loyal. Setting SMART goals and KPIs for your integrated efforts will help ensure you’re on the right track.

4) Select your weapons of choice

Not all platforms and mediums are right for every brand. In some industries, trade shows have a higher demonstrated ROI than weekly vlogs on YouTube. For others, the best way to reach decision makers is on LinkedIn and not through content marketing. The first question to ask when determining where to focus marcomm resources is, “Where are my customers spending their time and how are they influenced?” Almost as important is asking yourself, “What channels allow me to showcase my brand’s strengths?” If your brand offers something innovative but a bit dense and niche, then Instagram as a platform would be challenging to generate traction. Instead, speaking opportunities at conferences where you (or your CMO) have more time to explain nuances would be more impactful.

Remember, you have all the PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned) channels at your disposal.

For Paid, consider if your audience is actively looking for your solution or if you have to be proactive in helping them realize they need your product or service. When thinking of earned coverage, would contributed by-lined articles support your communications goals or would an analyst evaluation be better? On Shared channels, selecting the platform must flow from determining the strategy for how social media will help reach the communications goal – whether by creating a community, showcasing thought leadership, engaging in the digital conversations prospective customers are having or otherwise.

Part of how IMC for B2B brands is different than for consumer brands is how owned content is leveraged. Owned content should be valuable to your customers and your customers’ customers. Your customers want to know you “get them,” but they also appreciate content that reinforces their value. The ROI is clear when you consider that B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. If your content is targeted, that increase in traffic means an increase in leads. Of course, that’s just one data set, but wouldn’t you like 300% of the traffic you’re getting now?

5) Use an umbrella to make it rain

Traditionally, an umbrella blocks the rain from hitting you. But for B2B brands, you need an umbrella that covers all of your IMC to bring in new business and make it rain. The umbrella, of course, is an overarching theme or idea that ties all of your marcomm efforts together. It could be owning a position or using some fun, quirky euphemism to convey the unique selling proposition of your product or reinforce a brand identity. This doesn’t mean that all efforts across all platforms need to look exactly the same. In fact, solid marcomm utilizes the most impactful features of each platform, but the umbrella campaign theme or concept keeps everything cohesive and consistent. When deciding an umbrella theme, think big picture about how it would translate across each of your decided platforms and whether it syncs with your strategy for how you intend to utilize each channel.

With audiences diversifying and a fragmented media landscape, there are no silver bullets for achieving communications goals. To be effective in moving the bottom line needle, communications – from advertising to PR, from social media to content marketing – need to be intentional in both strategy and timing. Check out a few ideas here, then follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to crushing the IMC plan and impressing your CMO.

Influencing the C-Suite: 3 Tips for B2B Influencer Marketing

By Aisha Belagam

Twitter: @AishaBelaPR


Fashion bloggers jet setting to tropical destinations wearing the trendiest floral prints. Genetically blessed Instagram influencers promoting weight loss pills after an early morning session at Equinox. From selfies to flat-lays, these are the types of personalities and formats that typically come to mind when you hear the term ‘influencer’. But these personalities won’t do much for your B2B marketing strategy.

American Idol business jennifer lopez american idol american idol xiii GIFAs with B2C, B2B influencer marketing is about connecting with influential people in your community and leveraging them to build trust and credibility, driving your message. In this digital age, where social media is becoming a regular part of everyone’s lives, influencer marketing is becoming a vital part of the communications strategy. And yes, you can and should use it for B2B companies. The C-Suite is engaged on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions. Here are three tips to consider when developing your B2B influencer marketing strategy:

1. Where are they and who do they look to?

Who and what influences your target audience? Don’t get deflected by focusing on who has the most followers. A million followers do not necessarily equate to a huge influence on your target audience. This isn’t a popularity contest. Plus, upcoming thought leaders are more likely to have the capacity to pay attention to your brand. Focus on influencers who receive a large amount of engagement on topics relevant to your vertical. These are the thought leaders you’re looking for. The analysts, industry experts, authors, speakers, and media folk who are actively involved in industry discussions, leading the way with their expert insight and educated opinions. You’ll find most of them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

       2. Look within

Who understands your brand better than your team? No one. That’s why you should leverage the CEO, employees, and clients as part of your strategy.

Employee advocacy is a powerful thing. Encourage your employees to promote your brand, whether it’s through social posts and blogs, at speaking opportunities, or by getting involved at industry events. Empower those with the most knowledge, the ones who work on your brand daily, to become the thought leaders opining and engaging, increasing your brand’s visibility.

C-level executives are an integral way for B2B brands to make a personal connection. They are the thought leaders bringing the brand to life. Using C-level executives is a key way to build relationships with analysts and the media, increasing coverage and establishing credibility.

Share results. Success stories from your customers can be packaged into consumable case studies, infographics, and testimonials. It’s great to have your team promoting your brand, but there is an obvious bias. Your customers, on the other hand, don’t have the same stake in your company and their experiences add a layer of authenticity.

      3.  Don’t just promote your own agenda

Build a real relationship with your influencers so they are engaged before you need them. It’s a two-way street. Think about how you can help them while promoting your brand. Reference them as experts, quote them in your blog posts, give them access to your products or services, engage with their social content, and stay top of mind. When the time comes, they will be more familiar with you and more likely to go the extra mile to help your brand.Empire FOX music love happy best GIF

Influencers can help a B2B brand through numerous channels. Think about your goals and identify what your brand needs. Influencers can do everything from collaborating on social content to hosting a webinar, from being an ambassador at your tradeshow to quoting you in their latest interview.

As interest in traditional forms of advertising plummets, influencer marketing is becoming a more important part of the integrated strategy. Collaborating with influencers in the ways outlined above can help your brand become more influential in itself.

Want to learn how your brand can leverage influencer marketing? Drop us a line. With proven influencer marketing results with national brands in both the B2B and B2C sector, we can work with you to develop and implement an integrated strategy that brings your brand targeted, measurable results.

Marketing Meets Dating

By Ronda Williams—Marketing and Administrative Coordinator

Twitter: @R_Williams11


Let’s cut to the chase and dive into the juicy stuff! If you haven’t noticed, dating and marketing have a lot of similarities. The two worlds could almost be walking hand-and-hand. Let’s see why marketing and dating make a great pair.

Marketing meets Dating…

When you think of that first date, what comes to mind? When you think about marketing for a new client or company, what comes to mind? You guessed it, branding!

Branding… funny mad men advertising social marketing GIF

Business Dictionary defines branding as, “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind.” 

You must first know your brand before developing a strategy. Identifying who and what the brand is in your market should be a key component. Your brand while dating is crucial as well! “First impressions are everything,” is what you should think about when preparing for that first date or new business venture.

eharmony advises these three basics to make a first good impression:

  1. Dress well (Custom brand design)
  2. Personal grooming (Choosing your target audience)
  3. Arrive early or on time (Timing the brand launch perfectly)

Strategy…Image result for strategy

According to the
book, “Marketing Insights from A to Z” strategy is, “the glue that aims to build and deliver a consistent and distinctive value proposition to your target.”

Developing a marketing strategy that is customized and unique is a goal that we strive to achieve for our client partners. As a marketing expert, you not only want to deliver wins for your client but you also want to create a trusting relationship with their audience.

Dating is all about finding a winning strategy to land that special man or woman! Playing hard to get might be a part of your strategy or waiting two days before calling. Whatever your strategy is while dating I’m sure you have one.

Physical Attraction…

When making the decision about who to date, most people encounter the question of, “is there attraction present?”

Madeleine A Fugère Ph.D. says, Physical attractiveness may serve as a gatekeeper directing us toward partners who are healthy and age appropriate.”

With that said, dating someone that you have no attraction to is not a good idea.G1ft3d art glitch glitch art g1ft3d GIF

Physical attraction in marketing is being able to develop content that will attract your target audience for that brand of interest.

Darren Pitt, a Social Media Lead Generation Specialist for LinkedIn says, “an effective attraction marketing system requires you as an internet marketer to offer information that will attract potential customers with an aim of establishing your expertise in a particular niche.”

Now that you have a little taste of how marketing and dating make a great pair, I hope you will be incorporating these into your next marketing opportunity or that spring fling!

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me via email at: Twilliams@wrightoncomm.com or (858) 755-5411. Happy relations!

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Five lies about PR measurement that can sink your strategy and career

By Julie Wright—President and Founder

Twitter: @JulieWright


Last month I attended the Ragan PR Daily PR measurement conference in Miami. The two-day event was crammed with hot tips and excellent case studies on PR measurement–how to design measurable campaigns, incorporate analytics, conduct surveys and develop metrics that matter.

Businessman pointing graphs and symbols Free PhotoIt is increasingly clear to anyone in the public relations profession that PR measurement is something our industry needs to embrace. With marketing budgets and margins under constant pressure, companies are looking to optimize their investments across paid, earned, shared and owned strategies. Not only does PR need to stack up against highly measurable digital strategies, it also needs to take digital paid, shared and owned tactics under its wing to produce more integrated, measurable campaigns.

After two full days of discussion in Miami, I was even more convinced of these truths and returned to San Diego fired up to confront some of the biggest whoppers about PR measurement head on. So here are my top five falsehoods. I’d love to hear your take on this list and maybe together we can all help move the PR field in the right direction.

LIE #1: PR just isn’t measurable.

If you are in PR and truly believe this, you’re toast. Sure, PR is not as easy to measure as digital marketing, but it is far from impossible to measure!

It requires a little more legwork and setting aside some campaign resources to do it well. But, keep in mind, the gold standard for PR excellence has always started with research and ended with evaluation—a.k.a. measurement.

Don’t believe the lie that PR isn’t measurable. Instead, refresh yourself on best practices in PR research and evaluation.  

  • Read “Public Relations Research for Planning and Evaluation” by Walter K. Lindenmann on the Institute for Public Relations’ website.
  • Check out the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation in Communications and their Integrated Evaluation Framework. AMEC has developed an interactive online tool that walks you through each step in the PR planning and evaluation process. The tool is designed to help support campaign evaluation; however, you can just as easily use it to guide campaign development to ensure you’re creating measurable campaigns from the start.
  • Read how others have designed measurable campaigns. AMEC has an annual awards program and shares case studies about the winning campaigns.
  • Check out the measurement resources provided by the Public Relations Society of America. It has collected all the measurement resources and links you could wish for in one place.

LIE #2: Our campaign goal is to raise awareness.

This is also a lie. As Joseph Ogden, BYU public relations professor, threw down in Miami, “If anyone tells you their only goal is awareness, they’re lying.” No one wants their PR campaign to simply raise awareness. They want their campaign to drive people to take some measurable behavior—to buy a product, drink less soda, visit a destination, attend an event, enroll in a course, submit their email, visit the website, vote, download the white paper or make a donation.

Hold yourself to a higher standard and help your client or boss understand that you do more than just “create buzz.” (Eye roll.)

It’s easier if you start by developing an objective that clearly states the behavior you want your stakeholders to take, by when and how often. Once you know your behavioral objective, work backwards and think about your informational objective–the message or knowledge your stakeholders need to receive and internalize—and the motivational objective—the emotional connection they need to make—to drive them to take the desired behavior.

Once you’ve set your intention from awareness through motivation and behavior, you can start to research your stakeholders to find out what their level of awareness and knowledge is and what motivates them so you can develop your strategy.

LIE #3: PR people aren’t numbers people.

That’s B.S. Don’t be boxed in by this lie. Good PR people are good storytellers, and one of the most powerful storytelling elements available to you in 2017 is data. Don’t shy away from it.

IBM Digital Experience Manager Brandi Boatner put it another way during the Miami conference: “Congrats, you’re all data scientists.”

Boatner pointed out the many data streams at our disposal today. There are internal sources that are coming from your advertising, website and internal processes. Analyze them as well as external streams you can study such as news trends, social media trends and competitive intelligence.

Google’s Louis Gray pointed conference attendees to Google Trends, a site where you can see in real-time what the world or the U.S.A. is searching, what news stories are trending and find interesting reports on search behaviors.

If you’d like to dig deeper into your audience’s awareness, beliefs or behaviors, check out Google Survey. Use this tool to cost-effectively add your questions to consumer surveys pushed out to targeted demographic groups via a network of publishers.Image result for PR measurement memes

Or if you have data of your own that you’d like to put into an impressive visualization, Gray pointed to Google Public, a data visualization tool. And don’t forget plain old Microsoft Excel. It will recommend the optimal charts and graphs for you based on your spreadsheet data.

It’s a data-rich world. Your company and clients are collecting data all the time. Extract that data to find amazing trends or to dispute conventional wisdom. Maybe there’s a surprising correlation between weather patterns and shopping behaviors, or day of the week and donations. The point is, you won’t know if you don’t look. And you won’t look if you think it’s outside of your skillset.

So, call a meeting with your company’s data guru and start spit balling with your new best friends in I.T.

LIE #4: More data is the answer.

It’s not about metrics. It’s about insights. And it’s not about the quantity of data points. It’s about their relevance to your goal.

Over a third of social marketers reported recently that they struggle to “distill data into insights and actions.” And it’s no wonder. Facebook and Google Analytics are just two sources that can generate a massive amount of data on your target audiences’ behavior.

Going back to your informational and behavioral objectives, it’s important to pinpoint a handful of key performance indicators to show that your message is reaching your target audience and that they are taking the behaviors that your client or boss really cares about.

You don’t need to track them all. You just need to focus on the metrics that matter and then go beyond tracking to analysis.

LIE #5: Setting measurable PR objectives sets you up to fail.

The old saying applies here: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

It is not a failure to set measurable objectives and then fall short of them.

The failure is in not understanding why you didn’t meet your objectives. Were they not SMART enough–specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time dimensioned? Was your strategy missing an element? Was your target getting the information but not motivated sufficiently or too inconvenienced to take action?

If you’ve set measurable goals, you are forced to ask yourself these questions and better understand your successes and challenges, which will make you better.

The only real failure that should scare you is the failure to even try. Or as another old saying goes, no one plans to fail, they just fail to plan.

Let us know what you think. How has your experience with PR measurement been? What tips or tools have you discovered? What obstacles have you encountered with your team, boss, budgets or clients? We’re all in this together and I’d love to hear what you think. Tweet me at @juliewright or @wrightoncomm.

B2B PR Best Practices For 2017

By Chance Shay─ Director B2B and Infrastructure Development

Twitter: @ChanceShay


 “Why aren’t sales through the roof? We’re the best in our industry.”

If I had a dollar for every executive that’s thought this to his or herself (or said it out loud), I’d be able to retire. They eventually come to the conclusion that it’s simply because the people who should be buying their product or service just haven’t heard about them. To a great degree, they’re right. The obvious solution to this, of course, is to tell these people about their brand and everything the company does.

That’s where they’re wrong.

The solution to attracting, closing and retaining new customers isn’t to tell people about the product or service, it’s to show that the product or service solves their problem better, faster, cheaper and with less headache than anything else out there. This is even more important for B2B brands, whose customers are naturally more discerning. In fact, 60 percent of all companies choose B2B vendors after actively trying to solve a problem and researching solutions. For B2B brands, this means the more difficult question becomes: how do we show our customers that we’re the best solution for them?

Because there are so many factors to account for- the industry, competitors, market conditions, decision makers, etc.- there is no short answer to this. Truth is that audiences are more fragmented than ever. So to help decide where to stack your chips, here are five marketing pitfalls to ditch and five fresh techniques B2B brands should incorporate into their PR and marketing strategy.

Don’t: Focus exclusively on content marketing

  • One dimensional marketing hasn’t been effective since salesmen walked door to door in the 60s. Don’t get me wrong, content marketing is a great way to increase the odds of your brand being discovered by those actively looking for a solution like yours. A brand just can’t put all its eggs in one basket.

Do: Utilize a comprehensive and diversified communications strategy

  • Ever heard of the PESO Model? It’s an acronym that represents the four types of communication channels: Paid (channels you have to pay for), Earned (like media), Shared (essentially social platforms) and Owned (channels a brand controls). It’s a model that works well for B2B brands because it provides an easy to follow framework. Content marketing falls under the Owned channel, meaning that a brand only doing content marketing is missing 75% of the communication opportunity. Even as a true PR evangelist I will tell you that it’s unrealistic to think that earned media is all you need to reach your growth goals. Competing for attention is harder than ever because of where stakeholders get information (and thus how they’re influenced) is fragmented. B2B brands need to strategically integrate all of their communication channels in order to holistically cultivate prospects and beat the competition.

Don’t: Get press coverage and let that be that.

giphy

  • That’s like qualifying for the New York City marathon but then not running another day before the race. Landing coverage in an outlet with a readership of 250,000 does not mean a quarter million people saw your article. It means there was an opportunity that 250,000 readers could read about your post. Don’t let the value from all the hard work that went into identifying, securing and coordinating the piece end once it’s published.

Do: Promote your press

  • This is where having an integrated communication plan kicks in. Anybody in sales will tell you that they make contact with prospective customers at different cycles of the sales cycle. Make their job easier by showcasing press that both differentiates and helps (soon to be) leads evaluate your product. Showcase your press on social channels, your blog, newsletters and trade show materials. You can even include it in your email signature and in presentations by (including screen shots of headlines and any awesome comments the article received).

Don’t: Only write white papers to show thought leadership

  • White papers and articles for peer reviewed journals require a lot of effort, but they’re great tools to showcase how talented a team a brand has. However, often times the paper is read by other smart people working in a similar fashion as the writer, not the target audience. Luckily, there are new ways to demonstrate to potential customers that a brand has a team of experts.

Do: Be a conversation starter

  • While white papers are great at providing information, conversations help develop relationships, build trust and can be information. If you know your audience, you know what they’re interested in, where they get information and what strikes a chord in them. Show that you know this by heading to a forum (likely LinkedIn groups) and start a conversation around topics relevant to your audience. Write a headline you think will make your audience’s eyes bulge. Pose a provocative question or offer an opinion that is against the grain. Choose a topic you know the audience will want to opine about. Remember, the goal is to first get them talking and then you can jump in with expert input. Don’t be promotional or salesy. React to and opine, not promote and push. I feel like this goes without saying but you can visit any LinkedIn group and see a number of smart people breaking this cardinal rule.

Don’t: Wait to be invited to speak

  • Every brand and person operates within their own bubble. Things that are a big deal in one bubble aren’t even noticeable in others. Some brands make the mistake of thinking they (or their leaders) are such a big deal that phones will be ringing with requests to present and speak. Even if a brand does get invites to share thoughts at certain events, they could be missing out on an opportunity to parlay that into additional exposure.

Do: Be your own biggest cheerleader

  • Sometimes doing great work is enough to get noticed, but often times you have to be like Ron Burgundy and tell people to come look at how good looking you are. Use great press coverage and presenting on past panels to secure new speaking opportunities. One idea is to use an article as the center piece of a pitch to present on a similar theme or trend. This shows that you are indeed an expert and gives you credibility. If you’ve been included as an expert on a certain topic or have a published by-lined article forecasting a trend that materialized, you’re a great pick to speak about that topic at a conference or trade-show. For people whose job is to select panelists and presenters, their goal is for attendees to say, “that presenter blew me away.” Help them help you.

Don’t: Think you have “an audience”

  • Even if you think you have a “target audience” you’re wrong. Truth is that for most brands (with the exception of the most narrowly niche companies out there) there are many segmented audiences that make up your collective stakeholders and customers. Brands must avoid the mistake of thinking the similarities between various customers is enough to consider them one group.

Do: Segment your audience

  • A very savvy PR expert named Ben Veal said, “The key to successful B2B PR is accurately identifying your audience and their drivers, and then developing tailored content that is specifically designed to engage and resonate. This content needs to be released at the right time, and in the right format, to ensure that the decision-makers you are targeting are reached and understand the message.” There are a number of ways to segment your audience- by title, industry, demographics, psychographics, geography, etc. What all these characteristics speak to is the difference in how they are influenced and make purchase decisions. For example, if your customers are retailers there could be young, hip retailers with one store in Brooklyn who love what they hear through Buzzfeed and their customers’ experience is the most important thing to them and then there could be retailers who have been in business for 40 years with franchises across the southwest U.S. that read industry magazines and are focused on keeping costs down. They’re both retailers, but what their pain points are and how you show them that your product is the best solution for that pain point can be drastically different.

Any way you slice it, there are more opportunities to communicate than there is budget to do so (I’m still searching for the unicorn that is the unlimited budget). Every brand will need to get a precise understanding of their customers and make smart decision on where to focus their efforts. The good news is that by knowing these five tips brands can be more effective executing their plan no matter what shape it takes.