During the past decade, successful marketing strategies have been rewritten and dramatically so. With audiences moving away from traditional media to ‘new’ media channels, the inexpensiveness of online content creation and the ability to attract qualified leads via search engine optimization it was possible to create ones own marketing ‘gravity’ to attract prospects without relying on the media or anyone else to push them. But, that too, is beginning to change.
Back in the day (yeah, I’m that old), all a company had to do was spend a bunch of money saying the right thing via TV, radio and print advertising to ensure people were aware of and would want their product/service offerings. It was also important to reinforce that effort with a strong coordinated outreach (public relations) to get mentioned in all the right places by all the right people (the content producers on TV, radio and print) to generate trust and legitimacy in addition to overall increased visibility.
Fast forward to today as the dust begins to settle around all the new strategies and successes found with online marketing. We are beginning to see something very familiar evolve. Outreach (aka public relations) is returning as a major element of content marketing.
So we are now all creating wonderfully engaging and informative content for our target markets. We are publishing it on company blogs and web sites with optimized landing pages standing at the ready to convert suspects to prospects. But wait, that flow of suspects is falling off. How come? This is all the more distressing as we watch our social media friend, Facebook, start to tank.
As a result of the rampant pace at which companies have been pushing out marketing content, the market has become numb with information and misinformation overload. Searching for information now requires culling through the multitude of important-sounding titles and descriptions that may lead to poorly or partially assembled information or a misguided sales pitch instead of something useful.
So what to do to rise above the noise? How can you make it easier for your prospective customers to find out about your offerings?
Google is struggling with the same question. It’s their goal to provide high-quality and relevant search results. And to pass their evaluations is an ever-changing process which has recently been dumbed down to “be interesting to your audience and high rankings will happen.” But, wait, there are those who already have large audiences and are also ranking high in search results. Maybe we can leverage that.
Let me introduce you to an old friend, “public relations,” except today we are calling him, “outreach.”
Outreach is the process of communicating with anyone who has a large audience (assumedly containing those from your target audience) and providing these influencers with valuable content they will want to pass on to their audiences. An outreach target could be a blogger who may be interested in sharing a video you have published on your web site or a blog post explaining how your industry can be doing better to serve your customers or ??. It could be a trade show or conference in search of speakers who will happily provide you with a podium at their event and a bio on their web site. And it could even be an editor or reporter in need of your insights for an upcoming article to be syndicated across the internet on several high-quality article sites. It’s deja vu all over again.
So while the targets of public relations have changed some along with the means of reaching them (not so much using press releases any more as using informal personable email, twitter or direct messaging communication), the intended end result has not. We want to leverage these large audiences to generate trust and legitimacy in addition to increase visibility of our offerings. Sound familiar?
Have you identified the influencers in your space? Have you followed them to learn what they see as important so that you can offer something they will deem worthy to forward to their audiences? Have you begun participating in the conversation (comments) with them? If not, it’s time to start building those outreach relationships (pka media relations).