Not every product announcement or company update is front page material. Most companies know that there are some things that won’t get the attention of an industry publication or a business journal. Yet that doesn’t stop the feeling of creeping disappointment when there doesn’t seem to be as much coverage of a new development as you wanted. The fact is that the game of public relations has changed. Since March started doing tech PR in Boston in 2005, we’ve witnessed a lot of these changes firsthand. The first decade of the new millennium saw the death of some kinds of journalism and the birth of others. Papers folded and merged. Staff were cut.
Despite the changing landscape, many businesses still hope that the press will cover every award, executive hire, product update and conference. Time and again, when the story fails to pick up steam, no one really knows what to do.
You spent a lot of time crafting a campaign that you thought would resonate with customers. You worked with a PR agency to develop the right kinds of pitches, tailored for the right journalists and the right publications.
At this point, companies start to give up. Rather than thinking about where to take the story next, the campaign is considered a total failure. The collateral, thought leadership and message languish in a press release and maybe one or two tiny announcements in the media. That’s not only a waste of effort, it’s a waste of potential.
You already have the company story and the campaign. Even if the press didn’t pick it up, there’s something else you can do: become your own best publisher.
Growing the Audience
Say that the ultimate goal of your campaign is to generate leads. For most businesses, that means getting email addresses. Maybe you’re offering a whitepaper with exclusive industry research that you were hoping the press would think was Revolutionary.
So how do you get people to visit the whitepaper, if TechCrunch isn’t biting and GigaOm never responded?
First, you need to make sure that you have a landing page in place that makes it easy for interested website visitors to enter their email address and get the research or white paper. Then:
1. Repackage Premium Content into Blog Posts.
Your blog is your own publication, so make these blog posts news-worthy. Write one or two a week that pull out a part of the research and link it to contemporary industry issues. At the bottom of each blog post, offer the premium content as a download.
2. Encourage Employees to Help with Promotion.
To promote the blog posts, develop a calendar that pinpoints exactly when you want to start promoting certain blog posts. To amplify reach, build a champion strategy that encourages key employees to share the content across their own social networks.
3. Create Compelling, Syndicated Content.
SlideShare is the unsung hero of the B2B world, with millions of users searching for presentations about business-related topics each month. If you want to grow the momentum around a campaign, create a SlideShare presentation that pulls key stats from the whitepaper, then link to the whitepaper at the end of the presentation.
Another syndicated opportunity is to write unique content for Business2Community, which gets around 400,000 visitors a month and accepts contributions from qualified professionals.
4. Leverage Paid Social Promotions.
LinkedIn and Twitter offer paid promotions through Sponsored LinkedIn Updates and Promoted Tweets, respectively. Businesses should experiment with these channels by promoting the whitepaper from a few different angles to different audiences. The promotions don’t have to be giant, billboard-budget investments – you can make a campaign with a budge as low as $100 for a cost-per-click of around $5-$6.
Both LinkedIn and Twitter have advanced targeting mechanisms that will let you promote your campaign to your target audience, allowing you to narrow down the search by sending promotions to target countries, industries, employees and more.
Creating your own press campaign means using owned media channels like your blog and your social networks, then amplifying that with paid media. With the right budget and the right messaging, you may be able to replicate the traffic that a good earned media hit could have gotten you – it’s just about getting your hands dirty and learning how to cover your own newsworthy announcement.
Credibility & Conversion
Earned media – from industry websites to newspapers and magazines – has the power of credibility. Without that backing, it’s up to companies to create a campaign that has a story that can stand without that endorsement. That means building a brand-neutral story that talks directly to the audience’s pain points.
By combining owned PR tactics like blogging, content marketing and social media, brands can still promote a campaign. Embracing new strategies through paid social media ads and email-gating, you can still get your story in front of the people that matter most to your brand. So, if your original campaign doesn’t get picked up in the press, don’t let it go to waste – repurpose, reuse and reinvent what PR can do for your business.
This post was first published by Blaise Lucey on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.