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Why Media Relations Benefits Digital Marketing Campaigns [4 Reasons]
On any given subject, from technological innovation to fashion preferences to sports wagering, the common wisdom is often wrong. In line with this perception is the belief among top and senior management at companies of all sizes that owned media -- the websites, eNewsletters, digital catalogs and social platforms that companies create (often with assistance from a firm such as ours) to promote their products or services -- provides sufficient visibility among target audiences.
Such thinking, however, is flawed in this age of plentiful content that can be analyzed and verified from every conceivable angle. As a result, the claims you make on your website can be supported in a highly effective manner by using trade and business media to complement your promotional activities just as you or your predecessors did when digital marketing was in its infancy or non-existent.
To help you understand the advantages of trade and business media relations in supporting your core marketing activities, here are four reasons why making the extra effort can be beneficial to your business:
Reason #1: Establishes you and your company as thought leaders. With so much content available online and a growing number of Millennials and Gen Xers (ages 25-40) – digital natives who grew up using computers – making buying decisions, thought leadership is critical to establishing trust. The best way to establish credibility among increasingly sophisticated buyers who want to be left alone until they’re ready to buy is to share expertise -- insightful, unbiased information -- in an educational, non-promotional way.
Media outlets are always looking for content about innovative products or processes, or new perspectives on established practices or applications, as well as “thought pieces” on trends affecting the industries they cover. Given news outlets’ insatiable need to provide engaging content in an increasingly competitive media environment, opportunities to gain visibility are plentiful.
Although this shift in perspective can be a stretch for people who’ve spent their careers in sales promoting their product lines in a traditional manner, making the transition can help to drive up sales numbers.
That’s because, unlike their Boomer predecessors, younger buyers and influencers tend to be more skeptical of unproven claims and are more willing to conduct in-depth research before making a buying decision. Put another way, their mantra is “show me, don’t tell me.”
The reason for this shift is that information is much easier to access – and of better quality -- than it was in the “old days” when one had to call, fax or write to request sales literature, which then subjected the individual to weeks or months of calls from “persistent” salespeople. In today’s sales environment, potential buyers can browse websites anonymously and access videos, interactive catalogs and a host of other detailed content before interacting with a salesperson. Or, they can place orders online without having spoken to anyone at the company.
Given this dynamic, you enhance your credibility as a seller by making prospects’ paths to purchasing smoother (i.e., shorter sales cycles) when you seek the “third-party endorsement” of a news outlet to run your bylined article or guest blog post, or use you as a source for staff-written content.
Reason #2: Improves the usefulness of your website. The benefits of being published or quoted on the website of a trade journal that’s relevant to your target audiences are that it gives you a reason to link to the media outlet’s website, and also gives the media outlet with which you shared your expertise a reason to backlink to your site. This “exchange” of links improves your website’s search engine ranking and makes it easier for prospective customers or clients to find you.
Examples of trade and business media coverage that we arranged for our clients include:
Reason #3: Gives you engaging digital marketing content. Beyond the exposure you receive through the media outlet, such placements give you content to repurpose in your eNewsletters, targeted mailers and other digital marketing tools you use to generate awareness and sales. What’s more, the news media’s “third-party endorsement” of your content adds to your credibility as a reliable information source.
Reason #4: Provides opportunities to speak at industry conferences. Making the effort to increase your visibility as a thought leader can lead to you becoming a sought-after presenter at meetings and tradeshows or give you leverage to cultivate those opportunities with trade associations, media outlets and other organizers of events which continue to generate large-scale interest during the pandemic because of the lower cost of virtual attendance compared to the financial and time commitments required to attend in a traditional manner. Francois Gau, our president and CEO, has invested significant resources – his own time and that of us team members – in such activities, and the result has been the onboarding of new clients.
Some of the news outlets that we’ve used to heighten our firm’s visibility are:
Do’s & Don’ts
Whether you’re writing an article or being interviewed for one that a writer from the media outlet will byline, or engaging in a podcast or on-camera interview, here are some helpful hints:
Before you write the article or participate in the podcast or interview, decide what you want to say, and be sure you have the appropriate information in your head or at your fingertips. In the case of writing an article, drafting an outline before you begin to write can be a helpful way to clarify your thinking.
The first draft of your article should be a “stream of consciousness” exercise that allows you to write your thoughts as they occur. Don’t worry about structure, word usage, grammar and punctuation because it will detract from your efforts. Instead, make significant modifications to the second draft, and the third.
In the case of an interview or podcast, role-playing sessions with colleagues or friends in advance of the interview can help you feel more prepared than if you go into the session "cold."
Always give accurate information and be completely honest. The lesson we learned as kids, that “Honesty is the Best Policy,” rings true in this instance. Nothing undermines credibility more than making false claims about a product, process or service. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Reputation is like fine china. Once broken, it’s very hard to repair.”
Stick to your key messages throughout the article or interview. Veering off-track can lead to the reader or listener losing interest in your thoughts and going elsewhere to do business.
Take charge. This piece of advice is especially relevant to interviews and podcasts. You have the expertise that the interviewer wants to convey to his or her audience.
State your main point or conclusion first. This approach ensures that the interviewer has noted the most important aspects of your message, and you can amplify it with facts and figures as appropriate.
Give brief and informative answers to each question. Speaking in sound bites -- “Why? How? What? When? Where? Who? -- is of vital importance to avoid being “edited out of context” in a video or an article.
Limit or eliminate your use jargon or technical terms because using too many such words is likely to cause confusion or boredom among people reading or listening to your thoughts, unless it’s a highly specialized publication or discussion forum.
If you’re appearing on camera, wear dark, solid-color clothing because it “resolves” better than stripes and geometric patterns that can distract viewers from the content of your message. A dark blue or gray shirt with navy blue, black or dark gray slacks or suit are the best combinations. If you need to wear a tie, a solid-color or subtle-patterned dark one is best, as is understated jewelry that doesn't "glow" or "glitter" in front of the camera.
In summary, using trade and business media to demonstrate your expertise is an effective complement to your digital marketing activities for four reasons:
Establishes you and your company as thought leaders. Nowadays, it’s not enough to be excellent at what you do. Given the changes in buying habits and desire of prospects to gather information and make purchasing decisions without interference from salespeople, showing established and prospective customers that you “know your stuff” and think about things besides selling your products – good as they may be -- gives you a leg up on competitors.
Improves the usefulness of your website. By linking to websites of organizations to whose content you’ve contributed, and having them link to your site, you can elevate your search rankings on Google and other search engines, which makes it easier for prospects to "find" your company.
Gives you engaging digital marketing content. Your customers and prospects will be impressed if they see you featured or quoted in trade journal or general business articles. They will also pay closer attention to your thoughts because it has the news media’s “third-party endorsement” than if you made the same points in a self-generated article or video.
Opens doors to business development. If people are impressed with what you write in articles or say during interviews, they'll ask you to participate in programs that allow you to further demonstrate your expertise at conferences or through podcasts that increase your visibility among potential customers or clients.
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