Drawing attention to your business, nonprofit, or membership-driven organization can often feel like pushing a boulder up a steep hill- gravity is always against you. In PR, “gravity” is the constant pull of the modern media and marketing environment. It’s so large and so busy that it can feel near impossible to break through, get noticed, and engage with your target audiences.
There are so many competing pressures on consumers’ attention that the first question we often hear from clients is: “how can we get our story heard?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but it’s important to bear in mind some tough facts about the nature of public relations and marketing for professional services groups of any size.
1. Your News Isn’t News
Blinders. Everyone has them. In PR, the biggest blind spot we encounter is that what you think is news might not actually be news. We encourage our clients to ask themselves: who cares about this information? Why should they care about this information? What actions do we hope to evoke through sharing this information? Does this information have broader context or is it better suited for a marketing audience?
It’s important to be honest with yourself. Don’t fall in love with your content and expect it to be leading the news every time. A little dose of humility, honesty and common sense can help you identify the content worth investing your time and resources in promoting.
2. No One Wants Your Email Newsletter
Everyone loves getting email newsletters, right? Of course not. While a well-written, well-targeted newsletter can have a great impact, more commonly they are seen as a nuisance. Why?
Consumer gripes about newsletters are well established: There’s too many. The content isn’t worth their time. The read length is longer than a weekly grocery shopping list for a family of four. They’re visually unpleasant. They’re too gimmicky. There’s no action-oriented content. Most of all, they are solely designed to push content out rather than pull leads or conversations in.
So, how do we advise clients on making newsletters people actually want to read? The keys are:
- Content that is sharply written. Strip away the jargon!
- Content that is shareable. Make people want to share it because it’s useful.
- Content that is actionable. Give readers something to do or ideas for their situations.
- Content that feels very personal. Tailor your message to specific, segmented audiences.
- Content that is “less firehose and more sprinkler.” Make your newsletters less frequent but more impactful.
3. People Don’t Always Engage With Social Content
When it comes to social media, many professional services organizations have developed a “set it and forget it” mentality, and then become frustrated when their content doesn’t generate engagement. They employ rigid, static publishing calendars more focused on post frequency than post content. As audiences grow ever more sophisticated, just keeping the lights on isn’t good enough. Social media power users are fickle about who they let into their networks and, just like they do with email newsletters, will follow and engage only with brands that provide value to them professionally and or personally.
Instead of striving for a given number of posts per week, focus instead on creating a content style that allows for the conversations you are seeking to ignite. The goal should be to get your audience to act: provide feedback on a project; support a family in need; donate to a particular effort; drive awareness for a mission, etc. Treat your social media audience as if you were a customer service agent—engage professionally, be present, interact appropriately, connect, thank people for support, and most of all, avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script.
Think about your social media channels as an unfiltered and direct access point for the audiences you are trying to influence. It’s an incredible opportunity, but it also demands real time, effort, and attention. You get out of social media what you put in- no more and no less.
4. You Are Going to Fail
Failing is never the goal, but it’ll happen nonetheless. A big part of public relations and marketing efforts in a media-heavy environment today’s is about iteration: testing, measuring, repeating, and- eventually- perfecting.
The best idea could be the worst failure. The simplest idea could be the biggest win. It’s very difficult to predict how your audience will react to your public relations and marketing campaigns. Treat each one as an experiment that can provide layers of data and anecdotal information to inform future campaigns. Every output should be thought of as a new brick in the foundation. And in order to measure the success or failure of your efforts, it’s just as critical to have people on your team, or an external partner, with the analytical expertise to guide you as it is to cultivate creative thinkers, writers, and user experience designers.
In short, it’s okay to fail, as long as you learn why you failed and can apply that lesson to the next campaign.
An Offer to Help
For four decades, the Belfort Group’s Professional Services practice has helped our clients navigate the issues outlined above. Yes, we’ve learned from our own mistakes. Yes, we’ve taken every little insight into the next campaign. Yes, we’re still learning, trying, innovating, testing and perfecting. We have clients that can tell their story through their experiences with our talented team.
If you’d like Belfort Group to provide you with an assessment of your public relations and marketing efforts, please contact us today. No sales pitch, no pressure to engage—just a brutally honest take on what you’re doing well, where we see potential areas of improvement, and the steps to get your company or organization to the next level.