Written by Paula Toole
With a new year comes new opportunities, new ways of thinking and new ways of working, and in the digital landscape there are generally more developments than anywhere.
The world of PR and content is constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep pace with the latest trend, let alone adopt it; is it an industry-changing innovation or merely a flash in the pan?
Last year we looked at what 2016 had in store for the world of content, but with content marketing and PR so inextricable linked, in 2017 we’re examining the big trends and what can provide organisations with true commercial advantage.
Ask any decision maker what the most important aspect of any investment is, and the answer will also be the same: ROI. What’s in it for me? is the most common question in any discussion, and in the world of PR and content it is something we hear every day.
While Google Analytics provides the hard data on who is visiting your website, how often they are doing it, and when, the numbers mean nothing without correct interpretation. Being able to correlate spikes in traffic, rises and falls and shifting trends can highlight exactly what is working and how, and enables future strategies to be shaped accordingly.
For years it has been difficult to truly gauge the impact of PR – print media has presented its own challenges, as it has always been difficult to know exactly who has read a particular article. With the advent of online news platforms and digital measurement tools, we are increasingly able to measure coverage against a range of metrics that provide an accurate indication of performance.
Being able to bring together content marketing and PR analysis, combined with social media measurement and search metrics, makes it possible to create a narrative that illustrates true performance and ROI, and helps to inform the creation and adaptation of future strategies.
Social media can be a thing for good and a thing for evil, but more often than not it can sit in the purgatory between the two – the dreaded indifference. Being able to properly harness social media platforms can be the difference between communicating a key message and it being lost in the shuffle, but as with any publishing platform, constant evolution is required to ensure content is reaching audiences in ever-changing ways.
Whereas Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were once the only major communications platforms, now there are endless opportunities to engage audiences in new and innovative ways, but simply uploading content in bulk and waiting for it to be amplified is not enough.
When Facebook Live was launched last year, it was initially dismissed as a fad, while Snapchat was long thought to be nothing more than an app for adolescents. In 2016 we found out that Facebook Live can be a hugely effective force in getting eyes on a product, even for a brief second, while even the biggest brands realised that Snapchat presents the opportunity to take people to the heart of an event or launch in bite-sized chunks – a social highlight reel, if you will. But it does no stop there, nor will it.
Most brands now realise that getting content to go viral is difficult, expensive and in some cases not even worthwhile if the key message is lost. Instead, organisations are looking at how to engage specific audiences with content that is relevant to them, delivered in the way they prefer to consume it, and encourages them to take action, whether that is a share into their networks, a visit to the website or even an enquiry or purchase. All social strategies need to keep sight of the end goal, and in 2017 this will be more important than ever as the choice of apps and number of users continues to proliferate.
Whether you call them advocates, influences, ambassadors or even expert panels, there is no denying that having respected and high-profile endorsers of your brand can add weight to any piece of content or campaign.
Influencer marketing was a major trend in 2016, with content partnerships helping to shape new ways of accessing markets and reaching new audiences. These relationships are set to be bolstered in 2017, as blogging networks provide brands with a platform to tell their story directly to the audience in a targeted and effective way.
However, advocacy is not only limited to influencer marketing. Increasingly, expert panels are being utilised by brands keen to add another dimension to their PR and content offering, by using respected and well-known individuals and organisations to offer comment and insight on pertinent matters.
Utilising third parties can be a hugely effective tactic in adding another layer to any strategy and also provide the opportunity for brands to bridge into new networks, get more eyes on products and services and generate crucial buzz and awareness, feeding into the customer journey and delivering tangible ROI.