PR is simply a way of keeping your brand top of mind within your industry and for your target customer. Though you may be putting all your effort into selecting a PR agency, you may actually have one sitting inside your own marketing team. With the proliferation of platforms to reach customers provided by social media, websites, blogs, and other non-traditional news and advertising sources, increasingly, content marketing functions as PR.
The increasing use of influencer content marketing, which takes opinion leaders and transforms them into advocates for your brand, is a good example of this revolution. This is particularly effective for B2C marketing. Influencers can include journalists and bloggers, but they can also be celebrities who lend their own brand to lift up yours.
In B2B marketing, particularly where domain expertise is required, influencer marketing can mean enlisting science and technology reporters, outspoken scientists, or technologists to build your brand. There is another incredibly valuable population of influencers—influencer practitioners, those who are closer to the problem and whose credibility comes from domain expertise. In our experience, practitioners as influencers are more persuasive and deliver more value than internally produced content.
So how does one harness the power of the practitioner PR ploy?
Measure, Plan, Measure Again
If planning is everything, and the plan is nothing, planning without data is actually less than nothing. Yep, it could actually set you back.
What do you measure, then, so you can formulate an effective strategy? Start with what a PR firm will do—Measure your Share of Voice (SOV). Then, go one step further, and measure your Conversation Share of Voice (CSOV).
What’s the difference, you ask?
SOV measures how often your brand is mentioned in the entire world of conversations. For example, if your company is a startup accelerator, then you would search your brand name and see how often it comes up in press coverage, press releases, blog posts, social mentions, etc.
SOV measures something much more specific. It identifies how often your brand shows up in a specific conversation. For example, how often does your brand name show up in “startup accelerator” conversations? Even more specifically, how often does it show up in conversations about startup accelerators in your geographic region? Finally, who are your competitors for CSOV?
What is the best way to measure SOV and CSOV?
A variety of tools are employed by PR firms. None will get you to CSOV. Our methodology drills down to CSOV, and using our Re:each tool reveals your CSOV competitors.
Once you have determined your CSOV for several conversations, you’ll decide which conversations you need to win, or at least where to increase your CSOV. We advise looking for a stretch “awareness” goal (like a startup accelerator) that is more general and hard to win, a more realistic strategic goal (for instance, a related area, such as midlife career development), and a tactical goal (startup accelerator in my region).
How did we get to these conversations? In our case, we used Re:each. However, this can also be done based on your own market knowledge and market research.
Within each conversation, topic selection is key. These will be the topics related to each conversation you (or preferably your influencer practitioner network) will write about. Then, this is just straight-up content marketing distribution strategy and process—mapping content to blogs, white papers, and other media, and connecting it to your social media and media outlet strategy.
The good news is, you know what to measure now—your CSOV for three specific conversations. You know how to measure it. And you measure it again—monthly. And you are surely measuring all the standard business metrics, like lead gen, and digital marketing metrics such as tweets, likes, and shares, as well as your KPIs on your website analytics, on a more frequent basis.
Conclusion: Use Marketing Like PR
By now, it should be clear that social media and the interwebs have changed the face of both marketing and PR forever.
This is a good thing. Companies should mainly be focused on their products, services, and customers. Staying close to all three makes for great customer experiences and builds companies and brands that last. By treating your marketing strategy as your PR strategy and measuring your likelihood of being top of mind using conversation share of voice, your brand connects directly to your customer through participation in conversations that are meaningful to them. Relying on influencer practitioners as the voice in these conversations allows you to leverage their reputations and domain authority to communicate with your customers in an authentic way.