Digital PR: How to Be Likeable
All your prospects are only one click away from your company.
The online world has brought everyone closer around the clock. Opportunity is only limited by your imagination and persistence.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. All your prospects are also only one click away from distractions—including your competitors—that keep them away from your brand.
So, how can you stand out from the rest of the crowd in a digital space?
The button on Facebook reads “Like” not “Buy” for a reason.
Digital PR is an invaluable tool that can help you promote and monetize your likability.
While you might be knee-deep in running your company, it would serve you to take a step back and ask yourself some rudimentary questions.
Question #1: Generally speaking, who do people do business with? We are all consumers so anyone can answer this question. So what do you say? I ask people this question all the time. The most popular answer is “people they trust.” And that is two-thirds correct. What I have found throughout my career in B2B, B2C, nonprofits, associations, government as well as politics is that people do business with people that they like. Of course, trust is baked deeply into “like.”
But wait, there’s more.
Now that you see the value of being liked, how do you use it to grow your organization?
Well, ask yourself this question.
Question #2: Generally speaking, who do people like? If people really do business with people they like, then it becomes very important to understand why do people like certain people. Based on my experience, people like people who help them. It’s that simple.
When we work with clients, one of the first things we do is position them to be helpful, so they become more likeable.
Digital PR is the tool that creates that kind of story for your brand and then reinforces it again and again.
Unlike traditional PR, digital PR leverages more tactics than media relations, which remains a mainstay. Today, digital PR includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media and content marketing. Overall, digital marketing spending accounts for 58% of annual marketing budgets and it’s expected to grow by 14.7% this year. Digital PR is a driving force behind that trend.
Here is how digital PR can help you get the most out of being liked:
PR Firm Insight: Your Organization’s 5 SEO Words
The value of search engine optimization (SEO) is a big part of digital PR.
SEO is a process that helps websites and pieces of content on those sites to rank higher in search engine results. In other words, the process leverages past data to determine which words have higher search value so your website can earn more traffic. And more traffic means more engagement and revenue.
For example, if you are writing about public relations, should you use the keyword “public relations”? Or should you use “PR”? Based on today’s data, Google Trends ranks “PR” much higher than “public relations” by a score of 99 to 12.
But how does SEO in a digital PR context impact your brand? Well, let’s start with your five words. What five words?
Now that we all live in a digital world, your entire organization has been boiled down to five words. Research tells us that when people type their problems in a search box they use five words or less. So, what are those five words that will help your prospects find your solutions? To be clear, you will probably need hundreds of keywords to build out your marketing program, but you should start with the shortlist.
Let me show you an example.
Paramont EO is a full-service supply and logistics problem-solver that helps commercial contractors maximize profit by creating custom solutions to meet their needs for every job. For more than 50 years, the family-owned electrical distributor has built its business to better serve contractors with a 125,000-square-foot, fully stocked and loaded warehouse to boast one of the largest electrical supply inventories in the state.
The Chicago, Illinois electrical distributor also offers more than 50 time-saving services that range from kitting and staging to onsite job trailers, around-the-clock on-time deliveries to repair services and project management to reduce contractors’ expenses.
But when they wanted more online traffic to stand out from its competitors, they called CMA for a digital PR campaign. As a result, we developed a 12-month program that highlighted the company’s value-added services that differentiates its brand in the crowded marketplace.
We delivered one SEO-optimized blog every month, which quickly generated results. The first blog, Cable Solutions: 4 Ways Electrical Contractors Grow Margins, allowed us to rank after the first month for the following optimized keywords—electrical contractors and electrical contractor solutions—which we used in the H1 tag (i.e. the main headline), H2 tags (i.e. subheads) and the body of the text.
We continued this strategy throughout the campaign. After eight months, we started to show up on the first two pages of Google search results for six different keywords, which generates additional individuals visiting Paramont EO’s website every month.
PR Firm Insight: How Content Plays a Larger Role
The internet has opened an entirely new dimension for digital PR. It’s called owned media.
For the longest time, PR professionals focused solely on earned media, which is a phenomenon where a third-party publication publishes your brand name and story—for free.
With a world gone digital, we now have new fertile ground that we can leverage to tell our brand story. In other words, we have our own assets, such as social media channels, our website, blogs and emails. Hence the name “owned media.”
The good news about owned media is that you can control it. You determine how many web pages are added or updated. You decide when a press release is published on your website. You approved what is scheduled for posting on your social media channels.
This kind of discretion allows organizations to mold their brand image over time. It allows you to wrap your product or service into a story, which adds layers of interest. As opposed to selling your products’ features, use owned media to tell the story through the founder of the company. Tell the story through the customers who benefit and appreciate the product.
Storytelling separates your brand from the competition—and that is huge because if every brand is the same, then you will only be able to compete on price, which is a race no one wants to win.
So what’s the easiest way to increase your margins? Be different. And telling your story through digital PR will underscore what makes your brand unique.
Now, look for ways to monetize your brand story. To accomplish that feat, you will need to start at the end and work your way back to the beginning.
From the perspective of sales, which is your desired goal, what questions will you have to answer to close one of your clients?
Based on my experience in the boardroom, you will have to answer three questions to make the cash register ring:
- Question #1: Have you ever worked with a company like mine?
- Question #2: What makes you special? (Why should I hire you?)
- Question #3: How much?
These three questions seem simple enough. But I assure you, they are loaded with the stuff that will make or break you as a sales professional.
The first two questions are marketing questions; the third question is a sales question. Once someone asks, how much, you have already started negotiating.
But keep this in mind: You will never get to the third question, which is the money round, unless you answer the first two questions correctly. In other words, the three-question series is a sequence.
The first two questions do the “selling,” while the third question does the “closing.” And this is where most companies leave money on the table. Your sales staff should not be spending their time selling and promoting your brand; your sales staff should be closing opportunities—that’s where the money is.
In one way or the other, your content should be framed to answer any questions and reinforce your brand story in a manner that sells confidence to your prospects. Remember, the economy does not run on money; it runs on confidence. Without it, no one would build or buy a thing.
From a digital PR perspective, thought leadership is a great place to sell confidence.
For example, we developed a comprehensive media relations campaign for GattiHR, which is a premier talent solutions organization and full-cycle human resources specialty search firm headquartered outside Boston, Massachusetts.
The firm tasked CMA with expanding its thought leadership in executive and high-velocity recruiting throughout several sectors. The highest priorities were digital health, industrial, offshore wind turbine training and diversity, equity and including (DE&I.)
As a result, we generated more than 10 media placements with a reach of 1,277,800 in the first six months of the thought-leadership campaign. Top publication titles included Human Resources Today, Startup Nation, ExecuNet.com, North American Clean Energy and SmartTech Energy.
We also helped Eating for Your Health by Suppers, which is a Princeton, New Jersey nonprofit that provides a supportive, judgment-free learning environment where people can discover a way of cooking and eating that improves and sustains optimal health.
The organization tasked CMA with expanding its thought leadership in nutrition, overall well-being, chronic illness remedies and eating disorders via wholesome, non-processed ingredients, nationwide and locally.
Countrywide efforts centered on providing expert dietitian commentary to a variety of consumer publications while local efforts honed in on promoting local webinars and in-person meetings via daily and weekly newspapers regionally.
In the first three months of the campaign, we delivered more than 10 media placements for a reach of 1,315,184. Top publication titles included Modern Professional Magazine, Princeton Echo and Tapinto Princeton.
PR Firm Insight: How Social Media Becomes an Important Channel
Social media, which is today’s word of mouth, is also part of digital PR’s tool belt that will help you promote your likeability.
In 2015, Google announced the findings of a watershed research report that outlined the new buy cycle. Here’s the hook: 90% of a prospect’s mind is made up before he/she contacts your company. So if they haven’t reached out to my sales team, where are they getting this information that is fueling their purchase decision. Well, they are getting it online through searches. (That’s why the phone has stopped ringing.) Your customers and prospects now spend a portion of their lives online.
This is a big change from the way we did business before the internet. Back then, a prospect would scroll through the Yellow Pages and identify three possible vendors. Then, the prospect would call the vendors and request information. At this point, your sales team knows who is interested and how they can influence them until they make a final decision.
Nowadays, conversations are happening about your brand online, as well as topics and keywords that surround your brand. So who are these people showing interest? How can my sales team get in front of them?
You can become part of the conversation with continued digital PR and social media efforts.
With social media, in fact, you can do several things from the context of digital PR. You can interact directly with customers and clients and build relationships with journalists and editors. (They like Twitter for brevity reasons.)
Providing crisis communications is another important task made easier with social media. It takes two hours to confirm an online rumor about your company, but it takes 14 hours to debunk a false one, so you will need a medium that will allow for quick and frequent responses to keep your brand in front of the evolving story. There are several reasons why traditional PR has morphed into digital PR, but brand management and crisis communications top the list. The internet is getting faster and more pervasive. And if you take care of your brand, someone else will. Before you grow your organization, you will need digital PR to protect it.
You can also use social media to research specific individuals, whether they are members of the press or not. Knowing what they like to talk about tells you how you should frame your messages to them. Before social media, that type of intelligence was near impossible to gather. Today, an online, ad hoc focus group is much easier to put together than a formal, in-person one.
In search of more relationships and prospects, CFO Consulting Partners, which has offices in Princeton, New Jersey and New York City, called CMA for some digital PR. The firm includes a team of senior financial executives that provides a broad range of financial management services to public and private companies.
During the firm’s first full month of social media, CFO Consulting Partners quickly gained 31 new followers on its social channels. The first 37 posts generated 3,339 impressions, 143 engagements and 95 post clicks.
The month’s top post was on Linkedin, which thanked individuals who attended a recent panel discussion made up of CFO Consulting team members. The post generated 654 impressions, 21 engagements and 18 post clicks. More importantly, it was a post that highlighted how the firm was being helpful to its target audience by sharing meaningful knowledge at an industry event.
If your brand needs help being helpful or being likeable, CMA’s digital PR team will help accentuate the positive in a way that supports sales.
A good name is a terrible thing to waste.