Why You Still Need PR (Now, More than Ever)

With the slow demise of traditional media, many companies are questioning whether public relations is also dead. In short, yes, traditional PR as we once knew it ––where pros solely relied on their relationships with editors and producers to slot stories in the magazine, newspaper, and TV outlets––is toast.

Why is Public Relations still important?

Public relations helps build an online presence across multiple platforms – social media, earned media, paid media, and more. Public relations is vital because it involves storytelling. Advertising and marketing can only go so far and can become bothersome at times, turning consumers away from the product.

Undoubtedly one of the most prominent lessons to emerge from 2020 is adaptability, and the best PR pros will have mastered it. But like a phoenix rising, a new PR has emerged, and its relationship to the success of your business is every bit as significant as its predecessor. While PR may now be less about “earned” media spots, its focus on credible and valuable messaging to consumers and visible, timely content remains the same.

More than ever, companies need to reach their customers in compelling ways on the digital platforms they frequent, which is why Forbes recently called PR in a pandemic, “priceless.”

Read on to see why having a PR pro in your corner is more important than ever.

They’ve mastered the pivot. From building relationships with veteran journalists to befriending trending influencers, PR pros are agile and can easily change course as messaging channels shift. They can help your company craft a message that provides value to or helps solve your audience’s problem to ensure maximum exposure and retention. Additionally, whether your company needs to spread the word about a new product launch or do quick damage control, they can take the lead on navigating how and where you will best communicate with your market. Currently, PR pros are tasked with eking out space in media and messaging channels dominated by COVID news, so creativity is vital.

They’re proactive. As we’ve all learned this year, catastrophe can strike anytime. Without a PR strategy in place, your company remains in a reactive state. You’re waiting by the phone for someone to decide to mention you––ahem, good luck––and you’re unprepared with on-target messaging should your company or industry be cast in a negative light. Do you have creative thinkers that can seize control of your company message if it’s under attack? Someone whose longstanding relationships with media and influencers could secure your coveted editorial space when your brand needs it most? Perhaps most importantly, have you built enough credibility with your customers by way of proactive publicity that your company can survive an impending storm? Your business is vulnerable if you answer no to any of these questions.

They can produce publishable content. In today’s digital world, we know that online visibility is king. But how do you break through the noise? Entrepreneur says that one of the significant PR trends of 2020 will be creating new types of content that drive sales. PR pros can craft more than a press release; as adept storytellers, they can produce engaging, publishable content––from blogs and tweets to videos, webinars, and more––to bring visibility to your company. They can also work in tandem with your SEOs to develop keywords and topics that ensure said content is most accessible to the customers you need to reach.

They see the big marketing picture. Ad Age recently said that the roles and goals of marketing and PR have merged and converged, and the right PR pro can help steer the ship. As strategic thinkers, they can help a brand create authentic and meaningful messaging that is at the forefront of all digital marketing tactics. Whether your goal is free publicity or paid placement, that carefully-crafted image of your company is at the forefront, and there’s no one better to paint that picture than a PR pro.


How Google My Business Can Benefit Your Business

Ninety-three percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, with Google holding over 90 percent of the total search market share.

Since 90 percent of searchers haven’t made up their minds about a brand before starting a search, your business has a huge opportunity to win customers by simply being digitally discoverable and informative.

So, does your business show up?

If you have a Google My Business account, it will.

During COVID-19, your customers spend even more time online to find what they need.

Google My Business allows you to create a listing for your business on Google­­, complete with the necessary information your potential customers need to visit, make a purchase from, or contact your company. In essence, this digital directory helps connect local consumers to you. If you’re not using it, you risk customers not finding you or seeing false information about your brand.

Read on to see why your business––big or small–-needs to add Google My Business to its marketing plan now.

It’s free. What’s free anymore? Google My Business, that’s what. There are no hidden costs or fees, and everyone gets the same product, regardless of company size or marketing budget. It’s easy to sign up and create your listing here, or we can get you set up and optimize your listing, free of charge, following a quick phone call.

It puts your business on the map. Literally. When you have a Google My Business account, your company gets priority on the first page of Google searches and Google Maps. Forty-six percent of Google searches have local intent, so when someone searches a coffee shop, chiropractor, or restaurant “near me,” it’s critical that your business (as it relates to the search) pops up as a viable choice. Your Google My Business presence ensures this.

Suddenly, you’re searchable. Despite its affordability, Google My Business can be one of your most effective SEO tools. In addition to getting your company “on the map,” your account boosts your search position to page one. Want to be included in the coveted Google Local 3-Pack? This trio of businesses Google considers to be the most relevant and credible to the query, and the searcher’s location is 25 percent determined by your Google My Business presence.

It keeps you credible and in control. With a Google My Business account, you can keep customers informed about the services your company offers, business hours, and other pertinent information, and this info can be updated easily at any time. Additionally, customers can post reviews, ratings, and photos to your company listing, which can help build credibility––research by Think With Google finds that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations––and boost your search ranking. Pro tip: responding to reviews (positive and negative) will give you a higher rating!

You gain essential intel on your customers. To best serve your customers, you have to know who they are. As a Google My Business user, you have free access to an “Insights” page that offers just that: who your customers are, how they engage with you, and your company’s overall visibility. With this crucial information at your fingertips, you can best adjust your marketing strategy to meet your target audience’s needs.


Advertising in the Age of COVID-19

Advertising in the age of COVID-19 can feel, well, much like the pandemic itself­­­­––a bit frightening and confusing. Perhaps your business is limping due to the months-long shutdown, making your advertising budget feel even tighter, or, best-case scenario, your company is status quo. Still, your marketing strategy must undergo a significant overhaul to best reach your customers during this challenging time.

While things feel out of control, remember that YOU are in control of your business.

Here are some points to consider:

Whatever your advertising budget is, increase it.

While this wave of uncertainty may have you tempted to pull back on your ad budget, it’s in your best interest to maintain or, if possible––increase it. According to a recent Entrepreneur article, sitting idle is a colossal mistake.

The economy will boost, and your business will be left behind if you’ve let the marketing ball drop. A recent study showed that many consumers find comfort in hearing from their favorite brands and businesses right now, granted it’s the right message. Keep reading for more on that topic.

Digital media is king right now.

If you’ve been considering making the jump from advertising in traditional media to digital, now’s the time. While traditional media formats such as magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV have long been on the decline, according to this article in Visual Capitalist, COVID-19 could spell the end for these platforms that once dominated ad budgets.

Spending across every type of traditional media format will see a decline in 2020, while most online media formats are expected to increase spending. As consumers spend more time at home during this pandemic, media spending reflects their preferred consumption platforms, including social media, online video, online display, and search.

Send a message of hope and help.

In addition to potentially making significant shifts in where you most effectively reach consumers during COVID-19, you will likely also need to rethink how your message will best get through. An ongoing study conducted by Entrepreneur recently found that 76% of consumers have recently picked up new habits, behaviors, and routines in the wake of COVID-19, so you will need to spend time––and likely some budget–– studying how your target market has changed.

Need a good starting point? Fifty-six percent of consumers are happy to hear how brands are helping communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and real-time market research platform Suzy. Get creative and think about how your company can give back in some small way––whether it’s a donation to frontline workers or special pricing on a product or service that can improve people’s mental health and happiness during this challenging time.

Enlist an adaptive, full-service digital marketing firm.

Navigating advertising and marketing decisions in the age of COVID-19 requires agile thinking. Without having concrete answers on when this may come to an end––and what our “new normal” may look like coming out of it––it’s imperative that you have the right team in place, ready to pivot at any given moment.

Consider working with a firm that offers full-service advertising and digital marketing capabilities, so you can easily make tweaks and shifts in ad buys and messaging at a moment’s notice.

No doubt this roller coaster of uncertainty will eventually come to an end, but an “all hands on deck” approach is critical to ensure the success and survival of your business.