PR, digital, social, SEO… with so many different communication channels, it can be hard to decide what to focus on and understand how they all fit together. In some cases companies end up with different people or agencies looking after the different elements with no common thread.
So here’s our simple, four-step guide to making sense of it all.
1. It’s all about content
Content is the cornerstone of modern marketing. Whatever channels you are using, the key to success is having the right content to attract and engage with the audience – whether that is stories and articles, video, pictures or infographics.
Interesting and useful content will generate media coverage, build followers on social media, get people reading your newsletters and draw visitors to your website.
Using professionals who understand your markets will ensure you can identify the right story angles and ideas and produce a regular supply of material. While content can be adapted to suit different platforms – a news story, a blog post or a Tweet – they should reflect the same themes and messages. Developing a content strategy will help ensure consistency across the different channels.
2. Make use of the media
Media coverage is a powerful way to build profile, particularly now that other channels are becoming so crowded.
Yet with the growth of digital marketing, traditional PR is often overlooked. If you are producing good content yet targeting just a few bloggers you could be missing out on the opportunity to reach a much wider audience.
There are thousands of print and online publications, some with highly specialist readerships. PR allows you to tap into their ‘followers’. As media coverage is free of charge and one press release can generate multiple stories, it is incredibly cost-effective. Media stories also carry far more weight than paid-for posts or anything you publish yourself on social media.
However media coverage must be ‘earned’ – you have to supply the right material in the right format. PR professionals with experience in your field will be able to identify all the relevant publications and develop content they will be happy to publish.
3. Build your own channels
As well as coverage on ‘earned’ channels, having the right content on your own channels will help you build followers and attract visitors from search.
In addition to a regular blog, white papers and ‘how to’ guides and specialist website pages, for example targeting particular industry sectors, are all good for SEO purposes. Don’t forget about a newsletter or regular email updates.
Then there are social media platforms – LinkedIn and Twitter are favourites with the B2B crowd though many people will also want a video channel like YouTube, and a platform like Pinterest may be useful if your work has a strong visual or design element, say for architects or property developers.
Content you are producing for any of these can be adapted for other purposes – for example, a blog post could be used as newsletter article, provide the basis for a white paper or be adapted for use in the media. Having a content strategy in place will make it easier to co-ordinate and manage content across all these different ‘earned’ and ‘owned’ channels.
It’s good practice to have a mix of different types of content to appeal to customers at different stages – for example, a media story or blog post may attract website visitors but a newsletter or white paper will allow you to capture their details, while webinars and seminars can provide an opportunity to engage with them directly.
4. Keep the audience in mind
It is important to stay focused on the audiences you are trying to reach. Who are they? What are they interested in? And what are their ‘pain points’? Our practice is to develop a series of personas based on composite real-life characters which gives a greater insight into their needs – and how to gain their attention, engage with them and turn them into paying customers.
Using this four-step approach, content is not just an afterthought that can give added interest to your website or attract a few enquiries – it’s a central plank of your marketing and one that supports the whole customer journey!