Why Marketing Strategy is important: Picture this scene: It’s 2021, and the sheer scale and popularity of digital marketing provides entrepreneurs with a wealth of opportunities and the ability to attract an audience of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of potential customers at the click of a button.
When Facebook first appeared in 2004, it really was the first of its kind. Before that, we had MySpace and a few other platforms I’d never heard of (Friendster or Hi5, anyone?), but none of them had the impact that Facebook had and continues to have.
After Facebook, we saw the launch of Instagram in 2010 and TikTok in 2016, and the addition of Instagram Reels in 2020. Not to mention other platforms like Snapchat and Clubhouse, all of which give us access to a wider audience.
Over the past 19 years, we’ve all had the luxury of communicating directly with our fans, customers and potential customers in a way that was never possible before. But before social media, businesses and brands were built “the old-fashioned way,” using more traditional marketing techniques like advertising and face-to-face communication.
Social media seems like the Holy Grail
As the world became more digital, tools like online advertising, pay-per-click advertising and email marketing became more popular and gave entrepreneurs and brands the ability to reach an even wider audience. Data was easier to track, and metrics and insights made it possible to calculate ROI.
For many entrepreneurs and start-ups, social media seems like the Holy Grail. Not only do you get to build an audience, interact and connect with your followers, but it’s also completely free at the start. Sure, now you can invest in advertising on all social media channels, but for those new to the business world, social media is a reasonable place to start.
However, there is a missing piece of the puzzle here. A modality that is as old as time, but is a powerful force when it comes to messaging, raising brand awareness and creating a “know-trust” factor. And that’s public relations.
Everything you say and do is PR
Public relations exists so that you can communicate with your audience. If you type “public relations” into Google, you’ll find the Wikipedia definition: “Public relations is the practice of intentionally managing the release and dissemination of information between a person or organization and the public in order to influence public perception.”
So essentially everything you say and do is PR, but the platform on which you share your message changes. The tools you use to spread your message change. But the message remains the same. Your audience, by and large, remains the same, but where it hangs out may change depending on the launch of new platforms or the growing popularity of existing platforms like YouTube and podcasts.
YouTube was first launched in 2005 and podcasts the year before, in 2004, but only in the last few years have they become really popular as a business tool, giving entrepreneurs and startups the ability to create easy-to-share and easily digestible content that their ideal customers will love – content that can then be reused on social media channels.
In 2004, when I first started my PR career, there were only three types of media to make requests to: print, television and radio. Online publications were considered a poor cousin of print publications, so we rarely sought them out because clients didn’t see the point of them – oh, how times have changed!
However, because there was less choice, it was easier for us to build relationships with journalists and work with them on article and content ideas. Over time, the media landscape changed, and online began to have a huge impact, with podcasts and YouTube channels becoming prime real estate.
The choice of media is much broader now, so while you may not think of social media, YouTube or podcasts as typical media, they are still in demand by your ideal clients, still cover topics that complement your business, and still have a ready audience of loyal fans that you can (and should) tap into. How? Very simple – through pitching.
One piece can be shared and shared again.
The way you pitch yourself to a podcast host is the same way you pitch yourself to a journalist. It’s a PR tactic and a skill that publicists have been honing for decades. One of the most wonderful but often overlooked PR opportunities is that you can take one piece of content and get it to millions of people in one fell swoop. No other form of communication allows you to do this.
It can take time to create and implement your PR plan. You may not see anything published or aired for three to four months, but when it does, it’s worth the wait because your content could potentially be seen or heard by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of potential ideal customers and buyers. Just think about the print circulation and then triple it to get an average audience reach.
Think about the audience size of a podcast, and then figure out how many additional people you can reach by sharing it through your social media channels. And then think about how many additional people you can reach if the host shares it through their social media channels. Suddenly, one piece of material can be shared and shared again, leaving behind a digital footprint and breadcrumbs that can bring even more people to your business.
This is another reason why PR is such a powerful and influential tool – because what you do now can take forever to find. PR isn’t always easy to measure, potentially increasing its downfall in ROI rankings, but it’s still a tactic to use and a muscle to flex as part of your communications strategy.
PR is another way to get your business and your knowledge out to a wide audience, an audience that has been shaped and cultivated for decades, that already knows, likes and trusts the publication and the content it produces.
So the next time you decide to put all your eggs in one basket and focus all your attention on one particular marketing tool or one particular platform, ask if there isn’t a more effective, more impactful way to share your message to attract hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new customers to your business. The answer, in case you missed it, is PR.