Digital PR: It’s About More Than SEO

Digital PR: It’s About More Than SEO

Digital PR: It’s About More Than SEO

The modern idea of public relations (PR) developed in response to the rapid growth of mass media in the early 20th century. Pioneering practitioners like Ivy Lee, Edward L. Bernays and Betsy Plank were among the first to recognize the benefits of using the media to deliver precise and truthful corporate messages. As the media evolved over the years from print to radio to television and beyond, PR professionals have adjusted their tactics to stay effective. Regardless of the medium, however, the goal remains the same: to elevate the client’s public position.

On the other side of the coin, search engine optimization (SEO) as an industry is relatively new. It started around the early 2000s and has evolved rather quickly. My start in the world of search engine marketing was in 2007 and the only “PR” activities SEOs did was maybe using a press release distribution service to get lots of spammy links. However, the SEO’s goal remains the same as well: to elevate the client’s search engine [Google] position.

 

What is Digital PR?

As our activities continue moving online, PR practitioners have responded with new tactics that take their traditional techniques a step further. Called Digital PR or SEO PR, this approach raises a client’s position online by targeting outlets and opportunities beyond conventional media. Some assume that Digital PR is just another term for link building. While this technique is certainly one tactic in the arsenal, that narrow view often ignores the holistic strategy directing a PR professional’s outreach efforts. When done well, Digital PR not only improves a company’s SEO presence but also increases brand mentions and exposure. 

 

Digital PR Tactics

Traditional PR focuses on media relations and outreach efforts to secure coverage for their clients (or organization for in-house efforts). Historically, these outlets included mostly print publications along with television and radio broadcasters. Digital PR still focuses on traditional media, using the tried and true PR techniques developed over generations. But, the work doesn’t stop there. Instead, Digital PR practitioners also look for other opportunities that didn’t exist ten, twenty or thirty years ago, and broaden their focus outside of traditional media to include targets like bloggers, podcasters and other influencers. These outreach tactics all converge under a broader PR strategy, developed to meet the client’s overarching goals.

 

Link Building

Every PR professional builds a media list to prioritize and track their outreach efforts. With a traditional campaign, media opportunities might be ranked by the type of audience or the size of an outlet’s reach. Digital PR campaigns use the same techniques but also include other online metrics — like a link opportunity and the authority of a website — to help judge an outlet’s value. Under this strategy, domain authority, follow vs. no-follow links and even body vs. bio links become critical considerations. Depending on the campaign goals, the right link could be the main priority and will, in turn, shape the outlets you pursue. Often, this leads PR professionals to uncover valuable opportunities that lie beyond traditional media outlets.

 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is another tactic that PR practitioners use to target media opportunities. By creating articles, videos, infographics and other assets around a strategic topic, PR professionals offer the media pre-packaged content in the hopes of receiving something of value for their clients in return, like a link or a mention. Even if the content isn’t picked up through an earned media opportunity, these assets are also valuable tools for owned media channels like social media, email or a corporate website. If a piece of content is being shared in one way or another, there’s value there.

 

Podcasts

Over the past ten or fifteen years, podcasts have grown from a niche product into a significant media category. More people are starting their own podcasts every day, which means there’s a tremendous ongoing demand for content. Digital PR professionals leverage podcast opportunities in several different ways. Companies can reach large, new audiences by having their people appear as podcast guests. Additionally, there are often link opportunities associated with podcasts that make some shows more valuable than others. Google is also now indexing and featuring podcast content, which makes these shows a critical component of every digital media list.

Podcast SERP

Google search results feature podcasts and specific episodes.

Events

Events have long been the domain of traditional PR practitioners. In this context, media outreach usually takes the form of interviews or profiles in trade publications. As always, Digital PR seeks out additional online opportunities that will add value to these already valuable events. For example, during a tradeshow, there may be openings to collaborate with strategic partners or customers. Other times, it could be an often-overlooked activity like filling out the company’s online event profile with SEO or link-building practices in mind. In any event, a Digital PR strategy takes advantage of every avenue that will extend the life of these limited-duration events.

 

Sponsorships

Many companies actively seek out opportunities to give back to their community by partnering with nonprofit organizations. Digital PR professionals can help their clients evaluate these organizations in several different ways:

  1. Does the organization share the client’s values or goals?
  2. Will the organization be a good partner?
  3. What kind of digital assets is the organization bringing to the table?

Rather than just spending money, Digital PR strategies can help leverage the online elements of a sponsorship agreement to deliver maximum exposure for clients.

 

A Unified Strategy Guides Everything

In the end, Digital PR is not so different from what early practitioners pioneered all those years ago. It’s still about elevating your client’s public position using clear and transparent messaging. But in this case, a client’s public position might also include their search engine results page listing. That’s why every modern PR strategy should prioritize online opportunities and employ the digital tactics necessary to achieve campaign success on every possible front. Otherwise, clients won’t realize all the potential value from their PR efforts.

 

(I just love that image of Marty Weintraub at SearchFest. An internet marketer holding up the results of some very traditional print PR work.)

Who is Milton?

Who is Milton?

Who is Milton?

 

And what the heck does this have to do with PR!

 

Amy and Mike talk about the iconic movie “Office Space” in this unnumbered episode of the PR Talk podcast. Why? Because it is fun to talk about and Amy made a reference to Milton in her upcoming (like next week!) book “A Modern Guide to Public Relations.”

“This new guy, with little experience, came into the office looking like Milton from ‘Office Space.’ A stuttering, babbling excuse for a vice president of marketing. OK, maybe you’re a little miffed because you thought your two years of experience would win you the promotion. Do not fret. Your new PR skills will win them over yet. It’s only a matter of time.”

We actually love Milton and calling each other “Milton” for fun when we are being particular or inflexible has been a part of our family culture (including our daughter when she was younger). Along with talking up Milton, we discuss the copier in the movie and how we all have things like a copy machine that never works right and frustrates us in everyday life. As Amy mentioned in the conversation, we’d love to hear what your “copy machine” is. Let us know in the comments.

If you haven’t seen “Office Space” we highly recommend it (even you millennials that probably (hopefully) haven’t suffered through the type of office environment depicted in the movie).

Check out the official trailer from 20th Century Fox (although I don’t think it does the movie justice):

 

Don’t Miss an Episode

You can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

Moving Past the Jargon: Why Thought Leadership is an Essential Marketing Tool for Your Business

For a while there, the term “thought leadership” seemed destined for the dustbin of marketing history. Part jargon, part cliche, the term became synonymous with personal brand builders who plied their trade in breathless LinkedIn posts or at TEDx talks held in hotel conference rooms. Fortunately, savvy marketers rescued the thought leader from this ignominious fate by refocusing the concept into a powerful business growth strategy.

Today, thought leadership is a content marketing approach that positions a company, executive or other subject matter expert as the go-to resource in their field. Influential thought leaders produce content that answers their customers’ questions, provides solutions to pressing problems or offers the audience a new point-of-view to consider.

When executed correctly, these campaigns include their own strategies, tactics, goals and measures to judge effectiveness. As those elements come together, thought leadership begins to drive bottom-line results. That’s why marketing leaders — especially in the B2B space — should consider incorporating this approach into their overall strategy.

Four Ways Thought Leadership Drives Bottom-Line Results

While the idea of thought leadership might initially appeal to the ego, it strongly aligns with the marketing philosophy that giving generously to your customers brings tangible returns. Here are four ways that can play out for your business.

 

Thought Leadership Increases Business Visibility

The goal of marketing is to build awareness around your company and its products or services. By producing thought leadership content, you’ll demonstrate your team’s inherent expertise in ways that are helpful to potential new customers. Research conducted by LinkedIn and Edelman revealed how thought leadership drives new business generation. According to their findings, 45% of decision-makers said they “invited a producer of thought leadership content to bid on a project when they had not previously considered the organization.” After all, delivering an exciting new idea at just the right time is a fantastic way to get someone’s attention.

 

Thought Leadership Builds and Maintains Trust with Your Audience

By some estimates, acquiring a new customer costs five times as much as retaining an old one. With this in mind, businesses must find ways to grow their existing audience and build the trust necessary for them to purchase again and again. Thought leadership accomplishes this by delivering content that helps customers do their jobs better. According to research conducted by The Grist, 66% of executives use thought leadership to stay ahead of trends. In addition, 60% of executives reported that thought leadership helped them make better, more informed decisions.

When business leaders see smart, relevant and helpful content, it drives behavior. The LinkedIn/Edelman study found that 55% of decision-makers increased their business with an organization based on their thought leadership. What’s more, 60% said that “thought leadership convinced them to buy a product or service they were not previously considering.” These statistics show that well-executed thought leadership campaigns effectively engage existing customers and drive ongoing purchasing decisions.

Thought Leadership Shortens the Sales Cycle

For businesses managing long and complex sales cycles, thought leadership can be an effective strategy for answering questions in advance, preemptively addressing objections and moving customers closer to action. LinkedIn and Edelman found that nearly 60% of decision-makers awarded business to an organization based directly on their thought leadership. By demonstrating your knowledge in advance and anticipating customer pain points, you show potential customers how you’ll serve them once they’ve decided to purchase.

 

Thought Leadership Supports Other Marketing Goals

In addition to driving customer behavior and bottom-line results, carefully developed thought leadership content becomes flexible assets that support broader marketing efforts like increasing social media engagement, driving traffic to your website and overall brand development. You may also begin to uncover unmet customer needs as you develop audience profiles and mine your organization’s existing expertise.

 

Potential Thought Leadership Channels

Some companies might hesitate before jumping into thought leadership because they believe they don’t have the expertise to successfully execute their strategy or stand out in a crowded marketplace. However, thought leadership can take on many different forms, including:

  • Corporate blogging
  • Guest posting on established blogs
  • Public relations outreach
  • Podcast appearances
  • Social media content
  • Expert interviews for media
  • Conference speaking engagements
  • Video content

The key is to assess your organization’s capabilities, find the channels where you’re well-positioned to succeed and then share what you know.

 

The Recipe for a Winning Marketing Strategy

With this information in mind, it’s easy to see how thought leadership has evolved from an occupation for a specific set of personal brand builders into a legitimate business growth strategy — especially in B2B marketing.

By consistently demonstrating how your unique expertise solves a customer’s specific problems, you’ve positioned your organization as their essential partner for success. Creating that communication ecosystem drives new business leads, accelerates your sales cycle and strengthens existing customer relationships. All the while, you’re creating flexible content that supports other outreach initiatives. That has all the makings of a winning marketing strategy.

PR Research with Jen Barth [Podcast]

PR Research with Jen Barth [Podcast]

How Research Can Collaborate with PR & Marketing

 

Why PR Research Makes for Better Campaigns

 

Jen Barth, the owner of Big Small Brands, has held many positions in sales and marketing. She has always been curious by nature and in her first job, which happened to be PR, she asked her boss “we are doing all of this work to get the media to pay attention to us…are we selling any more clothes?” This question ultimately led her to specialize in the research side of marketing, which is what host Amy Rosenberg talked with Jen about on the PR Talk Podcast.

In This Episode, Jen Answers the Following Questions:

 

What Types of PR Research Are There?

PR research can be done directly (primary research) or indirectly (secondary research). There are many ways to do secondary research including analyzing audience types or personas, consuming the 24/7 news, looking at social media analytics and website metrics, and reading third-party studies. What Jen typically does is first-hand research via surveys, focus groups and one-on-one conversations.  

 

What PR Research Can Help With?

Research can be the foundation of PR and marketing plans, confirm long-held beliefs and dispel assumptions believed to be fact. Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Honing in on messaging
  • Creating a pitch headline 
    • Fresh eyes can see things we miss
  • Getting a different perspective
    • Internal stakeholders hearing that they need to make a change can be hard, but if it comes from a customer, it’s not a personal challenge, but practical information rooted in fact.
  • Confirming a gut-check or assumptions
    • Sometimes you think you know what to do, but really just need confirmation.

 

How To Do PR Research?

You want to start by creating a screener, a document that lists the screening criteria to use for the research. Then determine what type(s) of research you should perform. The most common types of primary research include surveys, phone interviews, and in-person (or virtual) focus groups. 

Jen says you may want to start by interviewing important internal stakeholders who will either help champion the project or be a potential roadblock. Start to figure out what you already know (or at least think you know) internally and what you do not know. Determine what type of information you can get through research that will be actionable (i.e. what are you going to be able to do with the information?). Jen says that it is great to learn stuff, but if you can’t do anything about it, is it helpful?

You can do expansive quantitative surveys, but Jen recommends focusing on the qualitative research, not the who and the what, but the why and the how. Spending 30 minutes to an hour talking with a few of the right people and asking the right questions is often a lot better than a five-question survey sent to hundreds. 

You need to invest in as structured a process as possible, one that also allows for a lot of flexibility with what happens next. Start with rapid-fire interviews, then put the themes into buckets based on the answers (not necessarily the original buckets expected).

“Investing a little bit in the short term, to gather practice information, not only sets you up for success when you have a lot of clarity in your plan but it also allows you to be very flexible and nimble should things change.” — Jen Barth

Also, using a third-party will often get you more direct answers and better insights. Plus having an unbiased third-party resource without an agenda — besides improving your PR and marketing — can lead to better decision making. 

Oh Wait, There’s More!

Jen and Amy also discuss how research can help determine why PR or marketing campaigns aren’t working, how demographics can be deceiving, and creating a framework for making decisions on the fly. So click through to listen to the entire episode. As always, you can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Jen Barth

Jen Barth is a collaborative, nimble, and forward-thinking leader with experience in the agency, corporate, entrepreneurial and nonprofit sectors. She is the owner and principal of Big Small Brands, a boutique brand and business acceleration consultancy. Jen helps the teams she supports better understand and engage the audiences and communities they serve and grow relationships that drive revenue and impact.

Connect and follow Jen on social media:

Jen Barth

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer [Podcast]

Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer [Podcast]

Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer

 

PR People Are Already Marketing to Influencers

 

On the latest episode of the PR Talk Podcast host Amy Rosenberg interviews digital and social media marketing expert Neal Schaffer. Neal has written four books on social media including his most recent, The Age of Influence. Neal and Amy discussed Influencer Marketing during the interview, including the fascinating origins of the discipline which go all the way back to Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth.  

“Influencer” isn’t a dirty word

If you cringe when you hear the term: “influencer,” it might be due to its reputation based on vanity metrics (followers) and overpriced endorsements. The digital equivalent of a celebrity endorsement, influencer marketing got its start by focusing on celebrities with millions of followers charging huge sums for social posts or endorsements. But the success of these campaigns was measured with vanity metrics like follower counts, leading to inflated costs that were more than the actual return. Moreover, the followers were purchased, further driving their value down. 

Influencer marketing grew because people started throwing money at, resulting in corruption due to vanity and falsified metrics. There is no real ROI for a like or a follow. However, influencers don’t have to be celebrities. The savvy marketer will focus on the digital or social media influencer. 

Focusing on micro-influencers (10,000-50,000 followers) and nano-influencers (1,000-10,000 followers) provide better options in extending branding efforts. In fact, a great place to find your influencers is to examine your employees and comb your customers. You may find you already have micro or nano-influencers and you can work on converting them into brand ambassadors.

 

The definition of a digital influencer and how to find them

If influencer marketing isn’t all about celebrities, then who are the influencers to partner with? Are top executives influencers? Neal says that they are (or at least should be) influencers, but not necessarily digital influencers. If a CEO doesn’t participate on social media they can’t be a digital influencer. 

All of this sounds a lot like thought leadership, doesn’t it?

That’s where PR comes in to find — or help create — these micro and nano influencers. Employees tend to like, know and trust their brands the most. So first look at employees, for example sales people are influencers that are monetizing their influence with sales. In many organizations the CEO should be a primary influencer (aka thought leader). 

After starting with employees, look to partners (distributors, resellers) then to customers. 

Tools like Voila Norbert can be used to mine email addresses with social media data to connect with customers that may be potential influencers. From this you can develop a brand ambassador program.

While not discussed on the podcast, I have recently discovered SparkToro as a great tool to find potential influencers, websites, podcasts and YouTube channels based on keyword association.

 

Similarities between PR and Influencer Marketing

Influencers are the media in digital media. So the two marketing categories are essentially performing the same duties. If you consider bloggers and podcasters as a part of the media, like we do at Veracity, you are doing influencer marketing already. Amy says to think about it like this:

“If you do it right, influencer marketing is thought leadership, thought leadership is influencer marketing.” — Amy Rosenberg

 

Ready to become a B2B digital influencer?

Once you (or your executive) are ready to become a digital influencer, Neal provides some advice on how to start and pick which networks to participate in (I know you are all thinking LinkedIn for B2B). However, it is really hard (and/or expensive) to go from zero to @garyvee so begin by representing your company and then move to representing your industry.

Starting with the content type (text, image, video, audio) will help guide you to which social networks to focus on (of course you can do it the opposite way, meaning if you know you want to be an Instagram influencer, you better use images). In B2B marketing most content creation is going to be textual, video or audio (podcasts). There aren’t a lot of CEOs that are true visual content creators. This naturally leads to LinkedIn typically being the top social channel, but can also help decide which other networks to focus on. Neal also notes that if you don’t enjoy doing it, it won’t last.

“If you hate Tik Tok, stay off it. If you love to speak, do a podcast. Consistency is key as it is a competition for attention.” — Neal Schaffer

Here is a summary of the content medium, types and the social networks best suited:

 

Textual | Blogs, Articles | LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter

Video | YouTube | LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram

Audio | Podcast | Linkedin, Facebook

Visual | Imagery, Photos | Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest

What should the PR maximizer do?

Amy and Neal also talk about what PR maximizers can do, how brands typically suck at content (hint people are much better at it than brands), and even a little about their similar experiences living in Japan.

Click through to listen or watch the entire episode or even review the transcript below. As always, you can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

Influencer Marketing with Neal Schaffer Transcription

Amy Rosenberg: [00:00:00] I have Neal Schaffer here today. Hi, Neal.

Neal Schaffer: [00:00:03] Hey, how’s it going?

Amy Rosenberg: [00:00:04] Good. So Neal is an influencer first and foremost, and an author, a speaker. And he is going to be speaking with us today about influencer marketing and LinkedIn marketing. And he’s written two books. His most recent book is The Age of Influence. And then before that, it is maximizing LinkedIn for business, as was, I think, your first book. Right?

Neal Schaffer: [00:00:30] So I’ve actually written four books. Ok, and my first two books were on LinkedIn and they were published back in 2009. And in 2011, I wrote a book called Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing. In 2013, I published a book called Maximize Your Social. And then The Age of Influence came out in 2020.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:00:49] Well, so can you just talk to us about all of this? Because in marketing, there’s a lot of buzzwords. So we’ve got influencer, you’ve got LinkedIn, we’ve got social like what is it all? And what is actually what is an influencer, first and foremost.

Neal Schaffer: [00:01:05] Yeah. So I guess just to take a step back, I’ve always been in the you know, I work I live to serve my own and ever since I left corporate and I’ve been on my own. And I’m sure that there are solo partners out there, maybe people that have their own PR agency, maybe journalists that want to go and do more freelance work. When you are by yourself starting a company, you need to serve the audience that you have, serve your current clients, serve those people that are listening to you. So I began my journey. I left corporate life back in 2008 and I began as a blog about LinkedIn because this was the only social network for professionals back then. And that led to me ending up because this was 2008, 2009, very similar to the economic situation where we are today, big transformation for many reasons in our economy and what have you. So that’s when I wrote my first book in 2009 on LinkedIn. And that ended up me launching what I call a social media marketing strategy consultancy in 2010. Now my background is actually B2B sales. I did do some business, have to do some marketing, but I lived and worked in Asia for 15 years and I often was what you would call the country manager, regional VP for Asia. So I had to wear a lot of hats. So yes, I had to drive revenue, but I had to hire people. I had to rent office space. I had to go and register to the Chinese state authorities, our domain name. So lots of other things. This experience in Asia gave me this really holistic business experience that even though my background was sales when all of this started taking off, where I don’t even think we call it social media marketing back in 2009, really, social media first lived with PR and probably some of you that have been around the block are nodding at the beginning.

Neal Schaffer: [00:02:49] I think a lot of budgets for social media began with PR, especially with reputation management. And we need to get Radian6 and everybody was Snout’s, you know, snapping up Radian6 and PRR was was very much in charge of that reputation management. So what happened after that? And really, as I wrote my next two books, the market has shifted away from just LinkedIn to we have Facebook now. We have Twitter now. We had the emergence of Instagram, Pinterest, and therefore my second book was more business book. And then my third book really reflected the work I was doing, which was helping companies create a social media marketing strategy and develop a way to measure the why of that. So I don’t have a PR background. And in 2010, companies weren’t looking to me for my PR expertise. They were looking for help with social media and it was often VP of marketing GMOs and therefore I gravitated towards that marketing side. Today I still do social selling trainings where I get back to my roots in B2B sales. But the influencer marketing, I mean, if we look at the landscape today with coronaviruses especially, we’ve had the entire digital transformation that’s affected every industry. Right. And with coronavirus, you know, we’ve always been digital first in the way we consume content and coronaviruses just even further accelerated that.

Neal Schaffer: [00:04:03] But more importantly, it’s made businesses realize, well, we have to digitally engage people. If we’re not doing that, we’re just we’re invisible.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:04:10] So let’s go back because this is a lot

Neal Schaffer: [00:04:13] And then we’ll get to influencer marketing. But, yeah, that’s sort of the background. And I want to mention sales and I want to mention influencer marketing and I want to mention public relations, because the three things that these that are in common here is it’s a one to one relationship. Right? Marketing is inevitably one to many, and it’s often driven by immediately measurable ROI. PR there’s ROI well. I mean, Goodwills is a intangible asset, right.

Neal Schaffer: [00:04:41] But when you have relationships with them, they are relationships, I think of regardless of the political spectrum. I think of the vice presidential debate last night and Kamala Harris saying, you know, Joe Biden told me that foreign relations is all about relationships, it’s all about making friends, sticking true to your word, helping people and. Lonesome marketing is all about relationships as well, so I’m now telling marketers, you know, if you don’t have the time to create individual relationships one on one, maybe should involve your PR team. And I actually think the same with how journalists found new a new beginning with content marketing. I believe the influencer marketing gives the potential for PR professionals to have a similar new area in which I. I honestly think they could significantly contribute to the success of whatever company they’re working for in that area. So I’ll take a step back now.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:05:30] Ok, so there’s a lot here. So PR and influencer marketing has a lot of similarities and I do want to talk about that. I just I want to go back to your earlier experience in Asia. Sounds like you’re running companies or groups. Right. So how does how did social media and LinkedIn say whatever was around then? How did that come into play for you there?

Neal Schaffer: [00:05:54] It didn’t. This was entirely before social media. I was one of the first million members of LinkedIn because I was involved in a a Silicon Valley, you know, company. So it was high tech. And I think a lot of the LinkedIn early adopters were high tech. There was some business development guy. I don’t even know where he got my, you know, my email. But anyway, I got an invite. I joined really didn’t do anything with it. It was when I was in transition for the first time in 2008 when I was back in Southern California. No local network, no industry network. It’s like I got to do something networking wise. And that’s where I really helped them LinkedIn. But what was interesting is that later on in January 2010, I was negotiating my first business contract. I had formed an LLC. At the same time, I had a job offer for Director of Business Development APAC for a high tech company, and they were twenty something co-founders who were married. And they said, Neal, if you’re going to be if you want to work here, you got to unplug from social media. It’s not going to help you do your job. And it’s like, OK, this is the fork in the road. Right? And that’s how I decided that. I just thought there was way too much upside with social media. So, yes, that is, you know, my professional career really is before social media because it’s just not the mass scale it is today. Just so few people were on it that there was little you could do.

Neal Schaffer: [00:07:09] So when you’re talking about director of marketing and sales and they’re saying no social media or no LinkedIn, what does that so like, can we kind of unpack that we get like how incorrect that possibly was? Because marketing and sales. So how do we use LinkedIn for both disciplines?

Neal Schaffer: [00:07:31] Yeah, so you mean in two thousand twenty, two thousand twenty one, correct?

Amy Rosenberg: [00:07:34] Well, possibly. I mean well, I would just say now I think. Yeah, how? I think that there two majorly different topics. But I think at that point you are probably looking at using LinkedIn possibly as more of a sales tool for certain companies or certain jobs. And then you evolved to be looking at it as more of a marketing tool.

Neal Schaffer: [00:07:54] Yeah, I’d say at the beginning it was LinkedIn for networking back in 2008. It was my first book was influenced by my own job search and my own personal branding. So that definitely played a role in that as well. But really, back in 2010, 2011, we saw more and more companies trying to tap into LinkedIn companies that were trying to create LinkedIn groups, for example, as a marketing, you know, marketing effort, trying to we didn’t have the term employee advocacy back then, but definitely trying to tap into getting their employees on LinkedIn. And obviously, there’s you know, if you’re in B2B sales, LinkedIn is a no brainer. But today, if you’re in real estate, it’s a no brainer. If you’re in insurance sales, it’s a no brainer. So even be to see if you’re targeting a wealthy consumer demographic, then from a sales and marketing perspective, LinkedIn is a no brainer as well. So it becomes one of those networks. But it really started out, you know, LinkedIn for sales and marketing is still very limited because everybody was talking about Facebook back then and even more so Twitter. And therefore, after I wrote my first book in 2009 and when I started the consultancy in 2010, I realized that marketing social media market was not going to be just about LinkedIn. I didn’t want to be the one-trick pony. And therefore I started doing my own Facebook, my own Twitter. I think I joined both back and I think I joined Twitter two thousand eight as well, Facebook two thousand nine.

Neal Schaffer: [00:09:27] And then as I picked up clients, I had to do a lot of learning. Right. And I had to become experienced in all these platforms. So it’s not me telling the customer they need to use these platforms. It is their needs and where their audiences dictates what platforms need to be included in the strategy. So it was really doing a lot of that social media strategy consulting work where I became fluent in really every platform I could. So, you know, fast forward, you know, a lot of people from ten years ago know me as LinkedIn expert you were talking about. I’ve written a book on LinkedIn for people that remember me. They still see me that way. I see myself as not being the ultimate expert in anything, but really well versed in everything and being able to tap into that and really provide a very holistic, you know, strategy and solutions for my clients because everybody has different needs when it comes to all of this. Right. So that’s where LinkedIn came in. And then obviously Facebook, Twitter were heavily marketing focus, not sales focus at all. Today there’s a little bit of Facebook for sales, but still primarily marketing. And then obviously we have the emergence of Instagram, which has taken over Facebook for a lot of companies. We have Tik Toc emerging. We’ve had Snapchat. Pinterest is sort of out there for e-commerce, for female demographic. So there’s it’s all we’ve had blogging, we’ve had YouTube, we’ve had content marketing and we’ve had influencer marketing and influencer marketing.

Neal Schaffer: [00:10:49] So influencer marketing has been around for a long time. Influencer marketing really has emerged. It’s the digital equivalent to a celebrity endorsement right into my book, I think The Age of Influence. I think the first chapter or the first two chapters, I go into the history of this, right. That it’s actually that concept of tapping into someone that’s famous and then promoting your brand. It’s  Charlie Chaplin. It’s, you know, it’s Babe Ruth and silent films and radio commercials. And then obviously the TV commercial. And even today we still have that.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:11:20] So I just want to be clear. Yeah. People there’s kind of a rumor going around that we’re not interested in influencer marketing. So I just want to preface that it has changed.

Neal Schaffer: [00:11:32] So it’s changed because the consumer, how we consume content change. So if we can ignore the fact that we have an Internet, then, yeah, we can go back and do business as usual. But it has changed. And the analogy I like to give, you know, when I was growing up, when I was in high school to age myself here, Top Gun came out and the next week one of my good friends showed up at school and high school, riding a motorcycle with a leather jacket and a Tom Cruise haircut. That when I was growing up, the people that influenced my generation were celebrities, right? They were movie stars. They were sports stars. They were musicians. Ask your kids who influences them. They are tick talkers. Their Instagram was their YouTube. That is a fundamental shift. I mean, you know, unprecedented shift. When the Internet emerged, the celebrity endorsement was still strong. And in fact, we can say some of it converted over. But when we get to social media, especially the last. Five years, right, you know, Instagram and YouTube and Twitter and Snapchat as well, I guess you could say the visual has really changed. What’s happened is that brands can still create a Facebook page. They can use ads, they still have mass brands can still show up in search results. They have the resources they can create the content they can invest in. SEO, how many brands are doing podcasts? How many brands are doing YouTube channels? How many brands are doing Instagram channels correctly? Right. The reason why people rule these channels is because they’re better content creators than brands. Brands suck creating content? I will say that again, brands suck at creating content. Any brand could have invested money to become an influencer.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:13:12] And they did when you say that. So let’s not talk about it. So who are you’re saying that people are influencing these channels? Those people are influencers. So let’s talk about who those people are now. There might not be celebrities now. They could be anybody. And I read in your book that you even say that the CEO might not even be an influencer in your company. So then who are they?

Neal Schaffer: [00:13:39] Ok, so there’s there are influencers and there are digital influencers, right. There might be a CEO who’s extremely influential, who just is not on social media. So and that is a valid influencer. So what I’m talking about here are we spend more time online. I mean, that’s the number one sort of activity we do as people these days. And when we’re online, the number one thing we do is social media. Right. So when I’m talking about as people that are influential in social media, so what does that look like now? You know, the history of influencer marketing started with the celebrity endorsement, but we didn’t really hear about influence marketing as a buzzword until, I don’t know, three or four years ago. So you have things like the frye festival, right? You have things like who are these people that have 10 million followers and charge twenty thousand dollars per post on Instagram? So you have an industry that’s been developed and you had a lot of consumer-facing brands that threw a lot of money at vanity metrics, for lack of a better word. You know, PR professionals probably, you know, some PR professionals. Look at those likes on Instagram as vanity. Some may not similar to how some PR officials look at clips as vanity metrics.

eal Schaffer: [00:14:48] And others say, well, that is a valid metric to see the exposure that you’re that your press release got. Right. Similar similar fact. But what happens, the influencer marketing industry grew because brands were spending a lot of money. So it’s almost like a conflict of interest, influencer marketing industry and all the talent agencies and marketing agencies and tools, they’re all pushing people with more and more influencers because they can charge more and therefore they get a bigger commission. Right. So what happens is, well, you know, if just having more followers is worth more money, I’m going to use bots. I’m going to do anything I can just to get more and more followers and I’m going to buy fake followers. And that is what’s happened over time. So in parallel, these people have priced themselves out of the market. There’s no ROI for the like. Companies are looking for more ROI in terms of deeper engagement. Right. And all the way back to the website, the shopping cart, what have you. So what happens now is that back in 2015 and 16 and I’m not from the influencer marketing industry, I’m an outsider here. Right. So don’t don’t don’t get mad at me.

Neal Schaffer: [00:15:48] But they started to say, you know what? Even micro influencers have influence. These are people that have between ten and fifty thousand followers. So they’ve widened the pyramids, that there’s more and more influencers in the pool that brands can choose from and they can find people at a more reasonable rate. Then interrupt. Before I started writing The Age of Influence, they started talking about nano influencers. And these are people that have between one and ten thousand followers. So that’s the definition that I stick to. But I say, look, if someone with a thousand followers, they talk about Instagram. I say any social networking site, anyone that has a thousand followers has some influence, because if they have a thousand followers, number one, they probably have somewhat of a personal brand. They filled out their personal profile. Number two, they’re publishing content. I don’t know if it’s their own content. Right. They might just be curating content. They might be just sharing company content, like if you’re a salesperson, but they have enough reach. That’s, you know, your brands Facebook business page. So that’s ten thousand fans might get five, ten engagements for post. These people with a thousand followers are going to get 10, 20, 50, maybe 100 engagements purpose.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:16:57] So how do you find these people that might be your influencer?

Neal Schaffer: [00:17:03] This is where the PR professional comes in, like Robin Hood on the horse, because when you continue to read The Age of Influence, so you know, all these brands were chasing all these people with lots of followers because they were influential about certain subjects. Right. But when it gets to the nano influencer level, I said, let’s take a step back. OK, how many people that already know, like and trust our brand, are in our sphere of influence. So where do we start? Who likes, knows and trust us the most, our employees. OK, 98 percent of American employees are active on at least one social media profile, right? This is 10 years ago. I couldn’t say that today we can say millennials are the majority of our workforce. So more and more I and even my 15 year old daughter is like five, six hundred followers on Instagram. Right. So more and more, there’s a lot of people around us that have more and more influence. So we first look at our employees. If we’re a B2B organization, our salespeople are influencers because guess what? They can monetize their influence. They don’t monetize their influence through twenty-five dollars Amazon gift cards for an Instagram post. They monetize it through sales and the bonuses they get.

Neal Schaffer: [00:18:17] Ideally, the executive, the CEO should be the ultimate influencer of your organization. And if I was a PR professional, I mean, I’m working with the CEO of a large company right now, and he understands he wants to be the role model if he expects his employees to be advocates for the brand in social media. Right. He has to be the role model. So you have sometimes PR professionals that are managing the social media accounts and the content of the executive team and helping them, which is valid. You have the internal communications that sometimes is trying to be the cheerleaders to get the employees on board. But you start with that, right? And then you start to branch out who are our partners? Right. If we have resellers, we have distributors, partners. Right. That’s another layer of people that like know they make money every time they get business with our product and service. And then what’s exciting for me is we take it out one step further. We look at who are our customers. We literally go into our customer database, there are free I know as a PR professional, you’re thinking, is this really legit? But there are tons of free tools. They’re not free tools. They’re inexpensive tools at Fortune 500 brands use to take an email address. From a customer database and a pendant with social media information, append it with an Instagram profile or LinkedIn profile, whatever you want, write one service that I use, I recommend it’s called Voila Norbert. Funky name, but great service, very inexpensive. So now we can see who of our customers are nano influencers. I did this with a hair color company that’s a client of mine, and they were taking the opposite approach to reaching out to people and hoping that they would work together as a PR professional. If you’re doing a cold pitch, they don’t convert very well, just like a cold call for sales doesn’t convert real well, but they found that there are people like 150,000 followers and Instagram profiles are already customers. Now a marketer. So a marketer. Let me just finish with this. The marketers are now saying, how do I reach out? What do I say? The PR professionals say they’re already a customer. I can craft a personalized message and say, hey, we’re starting a brand ambassador program. We noticed you’re one of your one of our customers and you’re pretty active and social. How might we be able to collaborate? You have 15 minutes for quick call to chat, right? That’s where the PR professional comes in and I think can really drive this forward.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:20:31] Oh, OK. So now what about consumer versus B2B? Because I’m curious, like the CEO who wants to lead and do a lot of social is the CEO and a consumer brand or B2B just for an example. And then, of course, let’s just talk about how you can possibly leverage this for B2B.

Neal Schaffer: [00:20:52] I think that it’s more I mean, it could be both, right? If you want your employees to get involved, then it really starts at the top. Now, when it comes to B2C, I don’t know how many CEOs are true visual content creators because consumer you know, in social media, it’s visual content, primarily in B2B, it’s more textural content, more podcasts, more videos of people talking. So that’s where the B2B should be a natural. And one thing that I’ve found is that with coronavirus and with digital marketing, I think that more and more executive team, they want to have more direct contact with the end customer and you sort of lose a lot of that digitally and you sort of want to get it back. You want to be able to communicate directly with the consumer or with the B2B buy or whatever it is. And that’s where the executive team has the ability to do that. By just directly, I mean, the CEO that I work with when he talks, people subscribe. His employees subscribe to his podcast. Right. And for him, it’s like I know that every day there’s all sorts of noise out there within the company and different company news and blog posts. But I can be direct and I want everybody in our company to hear this. And when you begin not only to represent your company but to represent the industry, you now have content that is suitable, both internal and external. Right?

Amy Rosenberg: [00:22:12] I love that. Mm hmm.

Neal Schaffer: [00:22:14] So that’s where I believe that the CEO, especially of B2B, can be more impactful. But even B2C, we’ve seen Richard Branson, Elon Musk, we can go on and on. But I mean, you have to have something to say. You have to feel comfortable on a public stage. It’s not for everybody. And I get that. So I wouldn’t force it on an executive, but there’s huge potential if they join along.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:22:35] So speaking of B2b, it sounds like for me possibly uneducated about this, my brain just goes to LinkedIn. So what do you say about that?

Neal Schaffer: [00:23:07] Yeah, in terms of social media, B2B, LinkedIn, without a doubt, every company that’s B2B that I work with, that is the first platform of choice is number two. Twitter is number two, Facebook. Is number two Instagram, it’s usually either Twitter and or Facebook, but, yes, you’re absolutely right. But there’s two different ways of looking at this is where we take a step out of social media and the digital media. Right. You have social networks, but you also have content mediums. And the notion of yielding more influence is you’re probably going to yield more influence in one of the four major types of content mediums, either text, which is a blog, visual imagery, which primarily is Instagram, not limited to then your video, which I consider YouTube, and then you have audio, which is podcast. So whether you want your team to have your employees to have more or you want to tap into other people’s influence, that’s really where you need to begin. What content medium will it be? Because that often will decide what social networks you should be more active on than others. So, yes, you could be a LinkedIn, but wouldn’t be great if you also had a podcast. So in addition to sharing information on LinkedIn, you could also link back to your podcasts. You could also link back to your YouTube video, or you could link back to your company’s podcast, your company’s YouTube video, in addition to the blog post.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:24:33] So and there’s so much that you can do. So a maximizer like me. I want to do everything for you. So what do you do? How do you narrow it down or do you narrow down? Should you just do it all?

Neal Schaffer: [00:24:45] Well, if we’re talking about individual people, the golden rule here is if you don’t enjoy doing it, it’s not going to last. OK, you got to be passionate about it, OK? Yeah, if you know, if if you hate tik tok, then stay the heck off it. Right. There’s plenty of other social networks. If you don’t like video, don’t do video. If you love to speak to a podcast, right. Do whatever is going to be easiest and whatever is going to last longer because you don’t want to become one of the 50 percent of podcasts that only go 10 episodes. Right. Or the people that go I’m starting a video channel this year and then two YouTube videos later. You never hear from them. As you know, consistency is key not just because of the way the algorithms work, but it’s a competition for attention. And the minute your podcast, your, you know, your YouTube channel, the minute you drop off, people find other content in their feed and they engage with that and you lose that engagement. Right. So that’s why consistency is important if you want to be successful.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:25:43] Ok, so let’s kind of pivot over to the differences or the some. Actually, I think there are more similarities between PR and influencer marketing because a lot of people say PR is about relationships, even though in my intro to this podcast, I say it’s not about relationships. Oh, doing it right, OK, because I think it’s beyond relationships. I don’t think you can do a lot of national PR with just relationships. Right. Like, I can’t necessarily have that relationship, you know, with thousands of reporters, but I can still get the coverage. But for LinkedIn or LinkedIn, I mean, influencer marketing, possibly, it’s easier because it’s online and you can have these relationships. And it also sounds very curated. So when I was reading the intro to your book, it sounds like for influencer marketing, we do want to be thoughtful. We want to curate, you know, what we’re doing. And the same with PR. We don’t blast out emails. It would just go into junk. So we’re very thoughtful about what we do as well.

Neal Schaffer: [00:26:52] Yeah, I just want to throw this out there that, you know, when we think of, media outreach, which is one of the common tasks that we associate with PR who are the media today, who are I believe that the influencers are the media and digital media. And I’ll just give you one talking point, which is, I work with one of the largest book publishers in the world. And in March of 2020, well is actually maybe January, February before this whole pandemic, you know, and I had the conversation. Do you recommend I do traditional media outreach? Should I hire a publicist on and on and on. And their answer was, you know what? We don’t think the ROI in traditional media outreach is there. It’s going to cost you a lot. You might get something, might not. We don’t know how effective it’s going to be. We recommend you reach out to podcasters and bloggers. Right. I get pitched all the time. We want you to know we’d love our client to be on your podcast. We’d love our client to be featured on your blog. That is because influencers are there are only so many people that talk about a certain subject. I was on a podcast interview yesterday and this guy goes, man, I was an influencer in heli-skiing. You know, you’re dropped from a helicopter without realizing it because how many people, how many nano influencers and above are out there that are posting consistently about heli-skiing? And if you have a product, I mean, if you provide tours just for heli-skiing, there’s only so many people out there that you can tap into. Now, big consumer brands have a bigger pool, but you get in the niche B2B, you know, if you want to be found, do Google searches, do social media searches. It’s a finite number of people. And generally, it’s more people you find than organizations that might be from some organizations, some competitors. So that’s what it comes down. That’s really what it comes down to.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:28:39] So what’s really interesting is my firm, we consider podcasters and bloggers, media. So it’s just an interesting way, you know, they’re all on our media list. So it’s a different way to look at it. It’s a little harder because the release of podcasters are not in the traditional media software that we use. We have to go get that ourselves. So and then when I was saying earlier about PR, some PR people not really liking influencer marketing, they’re not valuing it. It’s because of that misconception that everybody must be a celebrity and it might be expensive or that they’re priced out of it.

Amy Rosenberg: [00:29:18] And so that’s just not the case.

About the guest: Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular social media speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 4 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and The Age of Influence – The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

Connect and follow Neal on social media:

Neal Schaffer on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Job Seeking During COVID-19 with Mac Prichard [Podcast]

Job Seeking During COVID-19 with Mac Prichard [Podcast]

Job Seeking During COVID-19

It may not be the ideal time to look for a new job, but you may not have a choice. In this episode of the PR Talk podcast, we talk with the host of Find Your Dream Job Podcast Mac Prichard.

Are there even any jobs out there?

We went from record low unemployment to great depression levels almost overnight. However, some employers are still hiring. Mac points out that while he used to have 200 jobs in his weekly Mac’s List email, he now still has 75 or so. It is a big drop, but not zero.

 

So, what do you do?

The basics matter more than ever. You need to establish a job seeking goal and have a plan. Mac says that using a “spray and pray” approach is even less likely to land you the job you want (or even land you a job at all as that position you randomly applied for is someone else’s dream job and they have put in the effort).

Many positions are never even published and even if they are, they’re likely filled through a referral or personal connection. You need to continue (or start) building relationships via informational interviews and virtual networking.

 

How to network virtually 

Amy asked Mac for some tips to be a successful virtual networker. His key points included:

  • Use the networking tools you always have including the phone, email and social media.
  • Webinars can also be a good virtual networking tool. Connect via LinkedIn with the presenter ahead of time and come with questions to engage and set yourself apart from the crowd.
  • Join professional groups and attend virtual happy hours. Just like an in-person meet-up or happy hour, the more you engage, the more value you will get.

 

The furloughed worker side-hustle

When the conversation reached how to maximize periods of furlough, Mac said furloughs might present ideal times to start side-hustles. You can get a feel for if it will be a good move for your future career or full-time gig. In fact, Mac started his agency as a side-project.

 

A couple of final tips

Don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the things that are good in your life. Even if you need to get a new job now, Mac suggests limiting yourself to 35 hours per week of active job seeking. Otherwise, you will burn out and you need to pace yourself.

Mac left us with a great work-from-home tip. If you are fortunate enough to have a dedicated workspace, shut the door when you are not in there to conserve a sense of balance. If you don’t have a separate space, put your laptop in a drawer at the end of the day or over the weekend. Don’t just work non-stop so the days all blend together. You still need to strive for some work-life balance.

About the guest: Mac Prichard

Mac Prichard is the founder and president of Prichard Communications, which was founded in 2007. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Iowa. His career experience includes working for both Earl Blumenauer and John Kitzhaber and founding a second company called Mac’s List.

Connect and follow Mac’s List on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.