2020 is almost behind us, and with a vaccine on the horizon, this pandemic will hopefully be behind us early in the year ahead. While the tragic circumstances that have led most industries to rethink and reshape how they do business may disappear, many are left wondering if the nation is capable, or even willing to revert to a pre-COVID business lifestyle. It’s quite possible that work from home ordinances may be around for the long haul, as could people’s hesitation to reenter society in normal capacities.
In preparation for a continuously changing PR and marketing landscape in the months and years ahead, these are four tactics many of us should consider leaving behind in 2021 in place of more sustainable and practical methods of brand building for ourselves and our clients.
The Death of the Press Release
The press release has long been regarded by copywriting, public relations, and marketing professionals as one of the core weapons in the brand-building arsenal. However, their efficiency and effectiveness have proven to be minimal, if not entirely obsolete, in recent years.
Year after year, a growing number of businesses, organizations, non-profits, and the like have entered the national landscape. Inversely, outlets supporting traditional forms of media, such as television, radio, and print publications have experienced a steady decline in their audience over the course of the past decade. Put simply, more press releases and story pitches are hitting the wire and being peddled to the media than ever before, but there are fewer media sources capable of picking them up.
Most reporters and journalists will tell you that they receive far too many releases on any given day to have a chance of reading even a fraction of them. In fact, a growing number of members of the media have begun to say they will discard an email if a press release is included because they simply don’t have time to read everything. Unless you’re Tesla, Apple, or Google, the time has come to consider how to pivot your press release practices with today’s modern PR climate.
Agencies across the country have taken to treating the press release as a secondary measure for a clients strategic outreach. Believe it or not, most PR pros now utilize direct messaging features on social media and pithy emails sent to meticulously researched media parties in their locale and/or around the US. While it could certainly be helpful to have a release on hand in the event you’re asked for one, it’s becoming uncommon for reporters and journalists to make such a request. For example, of Jexan’s previous 20 news segments, zero came about due to a press release, and only one of those reporters requested to glance at a release beforehand.
Social Media: Strategies That Aim to Gain and not Maintain
If the company you work for or the client you represent lacks a social media presence in this day and age, something has gone terribly wrong. Marketing and branding professionals are in near unanimous agreement that in order to compete in today’s hypercompetitive business landscape, companies need to be utilizing the power of social platforms.
The multi-billion-dollar market cap that exists in the social media marketplace is quickly growing and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Standing out amongst the millions of global accounts that exist for any platform is difficult, to say the least. What’s worse, a successful social presence can no longer be achieved simply by remaining consistent with posts and up to date on what hashtags are trending. More than ever, the global audience and interested consumers demand original, professional, and socially conscious content.
Countless businesses, big and small, struggle with a stagnant social following, low public engagement, and no real financial return on their time invested into curating the pictures and videos they provide for their page. If such businesses are to have any hope of improving their social media efforts in the year ahead they’ll need to explore one of two options. Either hire experienced social media professionals to run the company’s accounts or become versed in the social efforts that have been working for competitors and begin incorporating thought leadership into your posts – no more placeholder posts just remain active!
The Dwindling Efficacy of Podcasting
Podcasts have quickly become one of the most popular forms of marketing for individuals and companies around the US in recent years. Their inexpensive production cost and simplicity to develop have made them a go-to form of brand journalism for clients interested in making a name for themselves in their respective industries. However, much like many other forms of online engagement, the novelty of podcasting has quickly diminished.
At the outset of this pandemic, more podcasts were being produced and mass marketed to the American public than ever before. And while the efficacy of podcasting had been encountering troubles prior to this year, they were only exacerbated as companies began looking for new modes of media that aligned with the tightening economic restraints that came with the emergence of COVID-19.
Seemingly overnight, thousands of new series were being uploaded to Spotify, iTunes, Player.fm, and countless other outlets as the business community began making a rapid dash to emulate the success that many podcasts were experiencing. The reality that many such businesses have had to come to terms with is that the story and mission behind their brand isn’t very interesting, and certainly isn’t special enough to garner individual’s undivided attention every week. Where they had set out to create a show that hosted thousands, if not millions of monthly listeners, most companies were lucky if they hit 100.
There’s more to these low figures and crushed hopes than an oversaturation of podcasts on the airwaves though. The fact is, creating a show that entices people to keep coming back is difficult to achieve, and unless a company is prepared to invest a significant amount of time, money, and manpower into creating a podcast, they will likely fall to the wayside in no time at all.
That’s not to say podcasts shouldn’t be included in your clients PR strategy. Instead of developing one on your own, consider throwing your clients hat in the ring to appear as a guest on industry specific shows, primarily ones that currently boast a large audience and have proven themselves viable. Here at Jexan, a core tenant of our PR work is booking CEO’s, executives, and team members on different podcasts across the country. Not only does this boost a client’s SEO, but it has the ability to take advantage of B2B marketing, and to reach those who may be interested in the services or products a client provides.
*Note: Jexan recently had a client make $50,000 off of their services after numerous interested parties heard them being interviewed for an industry podcast.
Impersonal and Impractical Media Outreach
Starting a new PR campaign is always an exciting time for those in the industry. The potential to not only market a client’s message to the public on as large a stage as possible, but develop new and lasting relationships with media professionals is a truly intriguing prospect. However, far too often, PR pros and marketing “experts” squander the opportunities that come with new client campaigns by using one of the most impersonal and impractical outreach methods available: mass email send-outs.
Having an entire nation of television outlets, trade journals and magazines, radio stations, and innumerable other media sources to reach out to can prove to be an immensely daunting reality. Where does one begin? How do you possibly make contact with everyone in order to maximize the results for your clients? Having these thoughts looming in your mind as you begin a new campaign can cause even the most seasoned PR professional to opt for the “simple” approach of PR outreach, that being to draft a single email you then send out to 500+ contacts in your firm’s CRM database.
Even the largest of companies commit themselves to this type of outreach method. The problem is reporters, journalists, and producers have a keen eye for these emails. They know when an email wasn’t solely meant for them and they’re being treated as a cog in a much larger machine. Almost inevitably, this lands the PR professional on a do not disturb list and inhibits any chance for future coverage with those outlets.
Regardless of experience, PR pros should be devoting a fair deal of their time pre-outreach to researching the top markets for their campaign, the reporters that cover the topic matter most relevant to their clients message, so on. In short, stop reaching out to 500 irrelevant media sources in hopes of 1 or 2 getting back in touch for possible coverage. Think through and strategize your media contacts for a campaign that yields a far higher degree of successful media correspondence.