“The notion of self-publishing is, which is what Blogger and blogging are really about, is the next big wave of human communication.” - Eric Schmidt, Google CEO.
In the Public Relations industry our job has evolved from one of using the media to get our clients stories heard, to one of leveraging the power of great content to connect directly with audiences – getting them to spend more time engaged with information, engaged with brands and things they care about.
This transition is not easy to embrace because it involves a deeper understanding of platforms, technology and marketing. While we know how to tell stories and create great content in various formats, as PR professionals we must understand the fundamentals of self-publishing.
It’s all about the content
•Customers trust content - 70% of consumers prefer to get to know a brand via reading articles vs adverts
•Readers like shared content – 20% of all traffic to websites comes from shared content
However, brands need to connect with their audiences through content that is engaging, relevant and most of all adds value. This content can be articles, video, audio and visual pictures which all tell its story and connect the brand with its audiences in a relevant way.
How do you develop relationships in the digital space without spamming consumers with irrelevant brand messages?
To be part of the conversation you have to be relevant. Relevant to your audience not yourself. This is the same key principle required when developing a brand positioning. How do you stand out? What is your purpose? Why should people care? Why do you do what you do? How can you help your target customers? In the digital space understand that people hate to be bombarded with brand messages. You need to make it more about them and less about you.
Creating the content is one thing, but how do you get people to start following you and engaging with you?
This is where the crossover with marketing comes in – if you want quick traction your efforts will require a digital marketing strategy and some budget. If you are happy to organically get the traction as you feed out great information consistently, then you need to manage expectations with clients.
Think of your own media and publicity efforts with a new client, in the first three to six months you spend loads of time building relationships, educating media before you see any kind of real media attention. The same applies in the digital realm. There is no quick uptake without integrating your efforts with social media marketing and advertising. You will have to put the effort, resources and time into building organic and earned reputation in the digital realm which takes time.
By using some of the tools below you ensure your content is found and shared!
Content optimisation is the first step you need to take to increase the likelihood of your content being found. The key is to create content that is targeted to the needs of your audience first and optimising the content for search engines.
What you are doing is providing data that search engines use to determine what your content and your company are about. Depending on the type of content you’re looking to optimise, this data is communicated in different ways. For example, when you optimise text content, you need to consider title tags, meta descriptions, tags, and URL structure. For images, you will want to provide relevant alt tags, image tags, and filenames, while keeping file size in mind, too. Search engines then use this information to rank your content in the search engine results.
If your content is optimised, it’s more likely to be listed on the search engines when a user enters a relevant search string.
Optimisation is a critical component of ensuring your content is found on the web and must be something that PR professionals must understand!
Content promotion is important to successful content marketing. You can’t rely solely on people finding your content through search engines; you have to put it out there in other ways, too. There are a number of ways to get your content in front of potential customers. Consider the following:
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Be sure to share your content on any social network you participate on and ask brand advocates to do so as well.
Get more out of your content by distributing it on multiple platforms. If you are creating a great article about an interesting topic in your industry look for other ways you can use this content to increase your distribution.
•Turn it into a series of blog posts
•Share key facts and statistics within the article on social media networks
•Create a video or infographic to illustrate the article’s concepts and content
•Create a slide presentation and share it on SlideShare
•Use the article topic as the starting point for an in-depth white paper
Proactive link building can be beneficial — if done correctly. There are many link building tactics that do not violate search engines’ terms of service and still provide value, including the content promotion and distribution strategies discussed above.
Share compelling content on an external blog or social media platform – it’s great for branding, and provides a link you can share through additional channels.
Invite talented people in your industry to contribute to your blog or social media outlets. Bloggers will want to promote their “extracurricular” content efforts in their own communities — which helps to spread your insight and influence — and will often reference the post in other content they produce, resulting in an additional link for you to share.
Consider producing a press release to highlight a single piece of content that has been performing well for your business. This can often create dozens, if not hundreds, of high quality links that point new viewers directly toward to your content.