Stop light, the red traffic lightThroughout history, public relations professionals have assisted companies in gaining exposure and getting the right message to the right audience at the right time. In the past, PR agencies relied on connections with journalists, media contacts and industry publications to relay relevant company news. With the arrival of social media, and digital marketing, PR agencies have had to evolve with the times. It has become a content-driven world, with a whole lot more opportunities to place content.

While it is now easier for PR agencies to spread a company’s message, the amount of information news outlets and other publishing platforms receive is quite overwhelming. As such, it is now more important than ever to get your messaging right, so it does not get lost in the noise, or, even worse, turn the audience away.  A good public relations agency knows which types of messages are appropriate and most effective for each type of content. Public relations firms are now frequently retained in order to keep a company’s message consistent throughout all forms of content.

Here are a few tips on how to best maximize your exposure to your audience:

  1. Press Releases – Publishers, editors and journalists are forced to sift through hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases on a daily basis and decide whether the news is really news, or rather advertising in disguise. Due to the sheer volume of material sent, the media has less time to spend on each release. The trick to getting your press release noticed is ensuring that the headline and first few sentences are compelling and well written. It is important to capture the reader’s attention quickly.  It is also important to ensure that for the most part, your press releases are news and something a reporter would be interested in. Don’t get a reputation for sending bad marketing messages disguised as “news.” Otherwise your content will be ignored by your core journalists.
  2. Content marketing – Blog articles are an excellent way for companies to establish themselves as thought leaders within their industry. When company executives choose to share their knowledge in a way that helps their audience and/or delivers relevant insights into current events, their audience grows and they gain more attention. However, if a company chooses to use their content marketing solely as a thinly veiled form of advertising, they could actually achieve quite the opposite. Blogs should not be used solely to release news or advertising. Use them as a forum to provide good, useful content for the reader. Readers can smell blog articles that are actually pitches a mile away. And, with limited time in their day, they must choose who and what to read. If a company gains a reputation among readers for producing advertorial content, chances are they will gloss over that author whenever his or her content is published. Yes, the content is out there and may have SEO benefits, but the power great content gains in attracting attention, is then lost.
  3. Social media – In the past, Facebook rewarded companies that posted relevant and engaging content by increasing exposure to that company’s target audience. Now Facebook is increasingly limiting a company’s ability to reach their audience, regardless of whether the content is engaging or advertising. While, to date, Twitter has not filtered the content on its platform, it has hinted at introducing algorithms into its platform designed to assist users in reading what they feel is most relevant.

Twitter users have always had a choice to either filter content themselves through the use of lists, or to simply unfollow a company. As Facebook, Twitter, etc., further develop, there is an increasing “pay to play” model emerging. Has that decreased the potential reach of social media with consumers? No. What it has done, however, is force companies to choose whether to include social media in their marketing/advertising budgets, whereas in the past it only took a little time and effort to post content.

Social media is still an excellent way to market to your audience, if the content is compelling, has intriguing calls-to-action and delivers a relevant message. However, advertising/marketing via social media shouldn’t be your sole activity, as the audience will tire of continuous advertising messages. The key is a good balance. Social media is an excellent tool to engage customers, monitor for sentiment and respond to customer complaints or praises.

It is vital to know how to achieve maximum exposure to the correct audience. Whether that be through press releases, blogs, articles in trade magazines or social media – realize that in most content marketing efforts, you’ll achieve more success and position yourself for optimum results by not trying to sell, but rather by providing valuable news and useful content. Pay attention to the type of content appropriate for the venue on which it’s published. This will help you create and implement a more effective overall marketing communications strategy.

Sara Callahan | Carter West Public Relations