Public Relations professionals are proud champions of earned media, as are ad pros with unearned media. But now the most successful PR and ad agencies deftly integrate earned, owned and paid (unearned) media activities to promote clients – and the agencies themselves.
By using multiple communications channels, agencies can reach prospects exactly where they are, in the format they prefer. Deploying all media channels expands agency visibility to the widest audience possible.
In promoting an agency to potential clients, each media channel propels the others. A blog post can be picked up by a journalist and published in a trade journal. Native advertising or content marketing can generate awareness about agency services among potential clients.
Here’s how agencies, clients and brands can use earned, owned and paid media tactics to flourish:
Encourage user-generated content. Content and recommendations from friends, colleagues and peers are what clients trust most. Encourage your audiences to contribute blog posts, comment on content, share stories and participate in brand discussions. They boost engagement and provide your PR team with “free” content to share and use in other materials.
Give to a cause. Volunteer your employees at a charity event or establish a corporate social responsibility program. When you give back to your community, the community’s media outlets notice — hence the phrase, “Do well by doing good.”
Conduct a survey and share the data. One way to become a recognized influencer and score publicity is by releasing a survey or research that reports on important issues within the industry. Credible data accompanied by real insight establishes expertise and influence.
Enter industry awards. Winning notable industry awards programs like the Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards provide instant bragging rights and are sure to score media coverage for your agency and its clients. A word of caution: some awards programs have a long and expensive entry process, so make sure your agency stands a good chance of winning.
Produce and share a video. YouTube is the “inbound TV” of marketing. PR pros can use their network and storytelling skills to produce videos that attract and convert clients. Consider the different types of videos that you can share on your blog and across owned social media channels, including tutorials, interviews with executives and experts, client testimonials, and webinars. Here’s 8 Ways to Promote Your Brand’s YouTube Video for tips on optimizing the video for search.
Create a hashtag. Whether it’s to promote a webinar or a new campaign, an original hashtag gets your potential client base talking about the agency. Just make sure audiences don’t misinterpret or abuse the hashtag so that it becomes a bashtag.
Develop a sponsored content piece. The New York Times has proven that there is such a thing as well-written sponsored content. A post titled “Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work” serves as a noteworthy case study of content marketing. The reasons it’s so good: it’s well researched and interesting, it contains credible interviews, there’s plenty of compelling multimedia, and it naturally weaves in “the sell.”
Consider product placement. It’s not just for big brands and movies. Agencies can participate in product placement by providing PR and marketing advice at community events and at local TV and radio. Bonus: such giveaways of expertise will likely generate earned media, as well.
Research keywords for search advertising. SEO isn’t as scary as you think. Most PR people already possess the skills and knowledge needed to research keywords for optimized Google ads. PR and ad agencies can utilize Google and Wikipedia for inspiration on what their target audience searches for. Search advertising can be affordable for small agencies and even freelancers if the ads are focused and localized.
Bottom line: Agencies can perform self-promotion by utilizing their skills across earned, paid and owned media to reach a wider audience with more credible messages.
How To Manage Social Media Crises
The question of how to spot and manage social media crises as they unfold emerges when companies first start listening to social media. The first step is to realize that monitoring 100 percent of the Web is not only impossible, but also costly and unnecessary.
Here are three quick tips for online crisis monitoring:
- Data Spikes – an unusual amount of information on one topic is one possible tip-off to a coming crisis. This is why organizing data can be so important. If comments coming in are grouped into one topic or another, you can quickly and easily see that one topic (such as price, environmental impact or product name) is receiving far more comments than usual.
One technique for identifying potential crises is to define an average volume threshold for your brand, which, if surpassed by a data spike, will trigger an alert to your team.
DKNY found themselves in an online situation that could have escalated and created a potential crisis for the brand. However, it didn’t – the company was accused of using stolen photos in an exhibit, and the photographer called them out on a Facebook fan page – DKNY provided a prompt and honest response before the issue escalated.
- Large Conversations with Many Comments?– A growing conversation that is visible via an increasing number of comments may also signal a coming crisis. A good rule of thumb is that any online conversation pertaining to your brand that sparks more than five comments should be given close attention by your team.
When a disgruntled British Airways passenger paid $1,000 to promote a tweet to the airline’s 300,000 followers, the audience empathized with him. The critical tweet was amplified to the tune of 76,000 replies. The airline apologized, and the customer acknowledged that he was satisfied with the resolution.
- Real-Time Alerts on Sensitive Topics?– Setting up alerts based on sensitive keywords is also a must for any company hoping to detect and manage crises. Pharmaceutical brands, for example, can easily fall prey to attacks online. For brands launching new products, keeping an eye on those keywords is essential to ensuring that the launch goes smoothly.
One sensitive topic for companies that deliver packages is how their employees handle the goods. FedEx was faced with a crisis management challenge when a video of an employee carelessly tossing a package went viral. FedEx VP Matthew Thornton provided a speedy response to the crisis with a candid and honest apology in a YouTube video that was shared more than 50,000 times.
Tarnished Mic | White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest got into it with reporters recently about anonymous sources. Specifically, a Washington Post story by David Nakamura, saying sourcing in the story is not evident until the reporter cites “former government officials.” The gist of the story isn’t favorable for the White House. It concerns President Obama and his aides being forewarned of a border crisis a full year before it happened. Reporters bristled at anonymous sourcing not being seen as valid, considering the amount of this type of sourcing that goes on in Washington on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. One of the sacred tenets of enterprising journalism is protecting unnamed sources. It’s a critical part of the media game. The Obama administration took office vowing to take transparency to new heights, but has largely opted for opacity. Earnest’s recent actions muddy the water further. For that, the press secretary gets a tarnished mic!