My Online PR New Year’s Resolutions: Insights from CIPR
At the end of last year I attended the CIPR Northern Conference with my fellow PR pal, Rodica Maria Lazar, which was an insight into the future of PR and the most effective strategies from a range of industries and brands in 2012. It was interesting to hear the different thought processes behind campaigns and how successful they were, plus the challenges they faced along the way.
Many discussed the development of the twists and turns within their strategies, after sometimes experiencing initial bumps in the road at first, but which taught them something about dealing with the great beast that is the Online PR world.
Give Them What They Want
All of the key speakers agreed the best method of reaching and engaging with customers was finding out exactly what the customers are inspired by and giving them regular bursts of inspiration to feed their interest through mediums they are likely to use. This could be providing journalists with exclusive articles for placements in fashion magazines or making them feel their input is recognised and valuable to the brand by asking for their opinions on some decisions with certain products via Social Media.
But the main thing is that customers know you care enough about them to keep exciting them and including them in decisions to give them what they want.
Discover Influencers in Unusual Places
To get close to your customers, you need to firstly identify who encourages their decision-making process. One of the brands at the conference highlighted that, depending on the product, it might not always be somebody traditionally associated with being an influencer. For example, it need not be a journalist, PR person, or celebrity – it can be the person selling or using the product, such as a hairdresser or beautician. If they recommend your product, it can have a huge sway over your customers’ decision-making process because it perpetuates the belief that the product is good enough to recommend to others.
If brands look after influencers as well as customers, then they could find that they are invaluable to ensuring their strategy is a success. In the online world, these people are bloggers, groups and pages people go for reviews and advice, plus of course, their friends. So the more people there are talking about how great you are; the better your chances of engaging with new customers, but at the same time engaging with existing ones.
Seeing is Believing
Another key message to come out of the conference was the importance of keeping an ear to the ground within the digital world. This ever-changing field is ten steps ahead constantly, and so although as marketers we may not always be able to use all of the exciting gadgets, tools, devices and unique approaches, it broadens our spectrum of reference and inspiration.
Having an awareness at least, means that we are more likely to come up with innovative strategies for clients rather than staying stuck in the past. Seeing some of the crazy and amazing inventions in digital blew my mind and showed me that anything is possible, which therefore can’t help but unlock creativity within a person!
Rodica and I both took different things from the conference, which was the wonderful thing about it. We were able to choose which talks we wanted to attend based on our interests. We both chose Social Media, the Future of Digital and then I listened to Video Broadcasting while Rodica went to the Journalists talk.
The other main points to come out of my CIPR conference experience (apart from the amazing buffet!!!) were:
- Embrace change ALWAYS
- Use your power for good, not evil (use your position responsibly, inspire customers but don’t mislead)
- Put people at the heart of your campaigns
- Don’t brag about how amazing a brand is, give tips and be useful to the customer
- Stay close to your audience and influencers
- Keep the love
- Don’t use social media for the sake of it, it can be a quick and efficient way of connecting with customers so find out what they want to know about and BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
- Always be honest and have integrity in what you do – a quick sell won’t keep love for the brand and bring in repeat customers
- Stay close to competitor and industry behaviours so you’re not left behind!
These were all demonstrated by a range of tactics and anecdotes by the PR and Social Media departments from leading brands and PR firms. However, the main message I took from all of them was the feeling that this is our time as content creators: the industry is rich in ideas and possibilities, SEO is about natural content and social media where the customer rules and algorithms are about optimising the best, most useful and relevant content.
Content MUST have a genuine purpose for customers or they will simply ‘unlike’ you on Social Media and across all Online PR and may even lose interest altogether in the real world. So really get under the skin of your product, relate it to your own experiences and needs and then you might better understand how you can apply it to things people really need and want to know about it.
It is an exciting time and if we can show clients how effective it is proving for others who have already embraced Online PR as a tool for connecting with their customers, then we can take them forward with us!
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