Last month I interviewed Scott Carter, a serial entrepreneur providing financial services for boomer consumers (45–65) who’s used innovative PR and marketing to take his newest company, PM Capital, to critical mass in the space of six months, since January 2017. We talked about what it takes to succeed in PR today compared to times past.
Time was, we mused, that the crux of a media launch would mean a press tour to New York for days of desk side interviews to negotiate stories. Press releases were intended for reporters only. And for a company like Carter’s, addressing mid-stage executives and investors who are striving to strengthen their financial future, radio was the medium of choice.
No more. Over the past 10–15 years, companies have been forced to entirely re-think the ways to communicate to customers. Storytelling ability is vital. Value-add content replaces promotion and hype. The new challenge is to amplify PR messages into the channels where prospective customers live and to bridge PR activities to effective lead generation.
In Carter’s case, his challenge is to connect with the vast audience of people concerned about financial security in an uncertain environment — how to balance active income, passive income and how to lean in for a better return.
“We need to get unfiltered information that isn’t available in the open market to the people who need it,” he maintains. “If you can give an investor the information that allows them to properly evaluate their decisions, they’ll make the right choice.”
“These days you don’t have to grab somebody in a 60-second spot. What used to be accomplished by getting someone on the phone and controlling the conversation with persuasive selling has been replaced by the ‘give’ strategy.”
A 40-minute presentation. Providing value-add information that isn’t available from elsewhere. Continuing to give with no strings attached over time. “That’s the combination that makes the steak sizzle,” he says.
For PM Capital, the marketing key has been live forums to 50,000 people per month. Persuasive selling is replaced by educative communication, one on one. This approach that has taken the company to $2M revenue per month that he anticipates will reach $3–4M per month by the end of 2017.
For companies like Carter’s, video is an increasingly effective strategy as well. Consider these recent video marketing facts from Wordstream:
- YouTube has more than a billion users (almost one-third of total internet users).
- Forty-five percent of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
- More than 500 million hours of videosare watched on YouTube each day.
- More video content is uploaded in30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years. (I find this astonishing.)
- 87% of online marketersuse video content.
While full length workshop videos can be effective for educative marketing, for PR and brand building purposes the best segments are less than five minutes long (and the very best are generally less than two).
For additional ideas on how to amplify the audience for your video I turned to Karen Neicy, an internet marketing expert in Delray Beach, Florida. (Her newest video commercial for millennial viewers is available here). Neicy breaks the alternatives down into two buckets: Paid Marketing and Organic (Earned) Views.
Google. Part of the budget you secure for video marketing can be used to create a targeted video marketing campaign in Google AdWords, for video marketing on YouTube. In this medium, you can create Ad Groups based on where you’d like your video to be played. For instance, for millennial-targeted brands, you can focus on placements such as Buzzfeed, Elite Daily and Vice by using “Placements” within the display campaign. By creating a separate Ad Group for each placement you can effectively measure and report your views and impressions for each. Likewise, you can target applicable groups using the Demographics, Topics, Audiences and Keyword features within each campaign. This allows you to create a single video campaign with multiple target groups for A/B testing in order to make the most of your budget, and to create detailed, in depth success reports.
Facebook and Instagram. Facebook video ads are a guaranteed way to reach people who matter to your brand. If you’re already leveraging an organic Facebook presence, you can remarket your video to those individuals as well as discover new potential customers daily. Just like Google, Facebook allows to you reach people across multiple devices, which is crucial as online video now accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic.
Using the video views objective in Facebook, you can upload your video, define your audience and set the copy for your video campaign. Unlike Google, Facebook gives you the opportunity to market your video using your own creative text, buttons and meta data. It’s important to set up multiple campaigns in order to A/B test with different audiences and copy. Facebook’s reporting offers actionable data that will help you maximize the number of views and impressions that your video receives. If your company already has an Instagram account, you can upload your video as a post, and set the audience directly from the post. You can also advertise on Instagram through the Facebook interface. Both methods are extremely effective for increasing your video’s views and impressions.
Additional Platforms. Depending on your budget, there may be additional platforms that can provide you with a good bang for your bucks. Twitter, Snapchat and Yahoo’s native advertising platform provide valuable space for your video to earn paid views and impressions. It’s important to pinpoint which digital platforms your targeted audiences live on, and set your budgets accordingly.
Organic and Earned Views, Impressions and Placements
Securing earned media for your video is an essential complement to paid media, and takes dedication, tact and research. Be sure the quality of your video is great and the story is palpable. Now your job is to get it in front of the people who are going to care.
First, identify the publications where your work would be talked about in a relevant way. If you’re selling cars, for example, make a list of the most influential industry websites and their author emails, Twitter users, Instagram accounts, and Facebook profiles. Pitching on social media can be faster and more effective than email, so it’s important not to rely solely on email communication. Social media pitches provide a level of intimacy not felt through email and can help seal the deal quicker and more effectively than emails.
Next, craft your pitch wisely. In no more than a couple of sentences, identify why your video is relevant to the “pitchee,” and include a link to the work or the file. Invariably, the writer or publisher is busy, so you will have only seconds to peak their interest. Your pitch should differ appropriately from author to author, publisher to publisher.
The secret to pitching, Neicy says, is that it’s a numbers game. If your pitch is well crafted and your video is strong, you will secure organic placements as long as you are “pleasantly persistent.” Add to your list daily until you feel like you’ve truly exhausted your industry’s online movers and shakers. Remember that if organic placements were easy, everyone would be achieving them. Your success will take time, dedication and resilience. Bear in mind that the average CPM (Cost Per Million) for paid online video reach is $24.60. Organic appearance in articles and postings, however, is more compelling still, since it is editorial coverage that viewers realize did not appear as an ad. The ability to secure organic placements is a valuable PR skill that increases the strength of your brand and if accomplished well can garner giant returns in subscribers and leads.
In all, the viral nature of video, the inherent SEO value in digital media, and the want-based desire for value-add information makes it imperative that you emphasize these activities within your digital PR. As progressive companies such as PM Capital are demonstrating, while the majority of competitors continue to roil in the marketing activities that worked in years past, digital PR strategies, when accomplished correctly, can be the game changer that accelerates your brand to the stars.
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Author: Cheryl Snapp Conner
Cheryl Snapp Conner is founder and CEO of SnappConner PR and creator of Content University™. She is a popular speaker, author and columnist.