One of our key roles has always been to tell stories that are authentic, resonate with audiences and create awareness. This is still true and very important, but we’re now telling stories using multiple content channels and as PR consultants we need to utilise content marketing strategies to amplify these stories.
We’re aptly skilled at writing a thought-leadership piece of 500 words and capturing the key message in 140 characters or less. We know that our content has to garner visibility for our client’s key messages and that we have to write for people not machines.
The trick is to add to the toolbox by being able to consult on content marketing strategies. Some consultancies outsource the digital function, but shouldn’t we rather add this to our skillset and offering?
For PR consultants to thrive in the digital age we are required to not only write and craft, but to strategise, promote and measure the success of online and social content. We need to know our conversions from our engagements.
The fundamentals of PR remain; keep your client’s target audience in mind, engage the audience, take key learnings and plot future success.
It’s a given that PR consultants are generating owned content for clients’ websites, blogs and social media channels. The next step is to upskill consultants on SEO and for them to not only understand online and social media advertising, but to also add it to their basket of offerings.
Digital content generation and marketing is an opportunity for PR consultancies to expand their talent pool and client offering.
Here are ten cost-effective steps on how PR consultants can upskill themselves to talk digital:
- Become social fans of digital agencies and gurus.
- Learn the jargon and use it in everyday conversations to become familiar with the terminology.
- Get to know the different channels’ benchmarks of success.
- Attend talks by industry experts.
- Job shadow an expert for a week or ask that expert to become a mentor. Be present when he or she measures and reports on a campaign so that you can learn how to analyse data and measure impact. It’s vitally important to be able to measure a campaign’s success and to show a return on the client’s investment. Discuss and set out the campaign’s specific objectives upfront and think of how you’re going to measure success over a specific period of time.
- If your agency or client currently outsources digital marketing ask to be part of a brainstorm if a new campaign is being developed.
- Similarly, if media buying, whether digital or social currently falls outside your consultancy’s scope, shadow a media strategist or ask to be part of the planning and implementation process.
- Graphic design also fits into the new skillset. Ask a designer to talk you through their thinking and design process. How and why they came up with a particular design. Ask the designer to share a cheat sheet of terminology, specs and best practices across channels.
- Review award-winning digital campaigns and case studies. Discuss and dissect these in your consultancy or amongst team members and debate why they’ve worked.
- Research and develop a faux digital strategy based on a client brief where digital may not form part of the marketing mix or make up a fantasy brief to test your skills.
As you expand your expertise and apply your digital know-how to clients’ campaigns, keep in mind that you can also improve your consultancy’s digital assets to help it achieve its business goals.
PR as a profession is evolving at a rapid pace and just because we’re known for our excellent storytelling it doesn’t mean that we can’t influence digital strategy.
No longer is our success based on earned and owned media content alone. As our role shifts between fulfilling a traditional PR function and dipping our toes into a marketing role we must consult with authority on digital marketing and content strategies.