Written by: Katy Lithgow
Over the past two weeks we’ve looked at the changing nature of media and how it’s affecting financial services PR. While journalists cut backs and diminishing newsroom resources have made some elements of communications harder (as explained in part 1 of our series), the digital media take-over has also brought brands new opportunities to optimise public relations plans (as explained in part 2 of our series) that never existed before.
In this final instalment in our series, we take you beyond strengthening your existing media relations strategy and show you creative ways to turbocharge your PR for stellar results.
1. The rise and rise of social and amplification
A few years ago, front page coverage in the Australian Financial Review could cause your website to crash. These days it’s rare for any press coverage to achieve that level of organic response so you need to know how to leverage what you’ve got.
So take that front page coverage, enjoy it for a moment, then think about how you’re going to use relevant social channels to 10x your mileage. Amplification 101 includes sharing the coverage on your company’s LinkedIn page, Twitter account and other relevant social platforms. You should also be looking within and outside your organisation to influencers and encouraging them to share and engage with the content by responding to comments and posting in relevant groups.
Advanced amplification would see you utilising the earned media coverage for your lead generation activity andatomising it to create more content, such as infographics, listicles and white papers, effectively turning it into owned media.
2. Digital innovations
Amplification will continue to grow in importance for your PR plan as new social players continue to emerge. Few of these will be the next Facebook or LinkedIn, but it’s worth considering whether your financial services brand should be utilising any of these new channels to engage with wider audiences.
Take Snapchat. Initially passed off as a Gen-Y focused messaging program that was for sharing private photos, today more and more brands and news outlets are jumping onboard with Discover, Snapchat’s storytelling feature. While this is currently more a B2C channel, there is potential for brands and CEOs to get on board in the future, particularly for consumer focused pieces targeted at millenials.
Video is another good demonstration of PR’s technological evolution. A few years ago, online video content and video news releases were an emerging trend. Now the majority of news is consumed via a screen, whether traditional TV news for over 55s, or online mainly via social media for those aged 18-24.
Indeed, in a survey of 130 top Editors, CEOs and Digital Leaders, 79% said they would be investing more in online news video in 2016. And 54% said deepening online engagement was a top priority.
The learning for your financial services PR plan is that you can achieve greater results with embedded video in your releases, video news releases and other content optimised for the digital space, such as infographics and multimedia capabilities.
What’s next? The hottest digital marketing trend of 2016 is virtual reality. So some time not too far away, you might actually be considering a virtual press release…
3. Who are your influencers?
In addition to looking to your CEO and other employees to share and engage with your content, your supercharged PR plan should include influencer outreach. Why? Because the digital wave has kick-started the democratisation of information-sharing, and these people and their platforms are essentially your new media.
As we previously discussed, some of these influencers are journalists who are active on social media. Others are bloggers, members of forums and social media commenters. Identifying the right influencer for your brand can make a world of difference for your reach and awareness. Start by looking at the quality of their content, alignment of values to your brand, organic reach, and your relationship with the influencers (which can be built over time).
4. Thought leadership and the return of long form content
2015 may have been the year of the GIF and the soundbite, but 2016 is shaping up to be the year that longform content makes its return.
As we have discussed in parts 1 and 2 of this blog series, creating original thought leadership is a key strategy to standing out. Good PR will then drive amplification of your messages and give your content strategy the ability to deliver a return on investment.
Fortunately, the media’s appetite for contributed articles and opinion pieces remains strong, and is even growing as newsroom resources learn to cope in the new world order.
Older style platforms such as podcasts and e-newsletters also provide opportunities to promote, share and drive eyeballs to your earned coverage via your owned content channels.
If you’re struggling to grasp how to achieve results via content marketing, our content marketing playbook can help.
5. SEO your PR
In a digital-first world, you can boost your searchability by incorporating SEO techniques into your PR strategies. It may not come intuitively at first, but trust us, the results are worth it.
Start by identifying your target phrase and embedding it in the press release title, subtitle, introduction and closing paragraph. Make sure that you don’t sacrifice good writing for keyword stuffing which will penalise your best efforts and make it a pretty poor experience for your reader. Also consider URL links as long as they provide additional insight or value to the topic you’re covering. We discussed the unlikely marriage between PR and SEO in more detail in a previous blog.
So there you have it. A look at the changes we’re seeing across the media landscape and how you can set yourself up as a communicator of the future. To stay abreast of our evolving thoughts on PR and marketing in financial services, use the subscribe form on the right.
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