In the past 10 years or so, the communications industry has seen its world dumped upside down.
What used to be a pretty cut and dry (albeit a bit fluffy and unmeasurable) industry suddenly joined the fight to “own” different media types.
Where does social advertising belong? And content marketing? What about social media and influencer marketing?
Do we continue to focus solely on earned media while our marketing brethren take over paid, shared, and owned?
Or do we fight for the PESO model integration and own all four media types?
I think you know which battle I think we should fight…and why we should win that war.
But we’re not quite there yet.
How to Buck the Industry Trend
Sure, there are lots of communicators who are there—and have been there for a decade.
But the majority of our industry is not there.
Big, global agencies have anything that is not crisis, reputation, or media relations in separate departments (read: silos) and even on different floors of the office building.
Boutique agency owners and solopreneurs still focus on what clients think they need—media relations.
Even mid-sized agencies go into the conversation leading with earned media.
And let’s not get started with the corporate side. PR is publicity is media relations is earned media.
The industry has the perception that media placements are the only tangible thing we offer—and we truly don’t do a great job of changing our image.
Cobbler’s children, I guess.
If you want to buck the industry trend and be seen as an innovator and as someone who understands not just how to get people to talk about you, but how to generate sales, there are three communicator skills you must obtain.
Get Good with Numbers
Out with the old and in with the new!
Thankfully we no longer have to rely on media impressions and advertising equivalencies to prove our worth.
We’ve always been an expense—and typically one of the first to get cut in a down economy or when budgets need to be tightened up.
But today we have the huge opportunity to prove we are an investment…if we can get good with numbers.
I know, I know.
You went into PR because you’re not good at math.
Get over it.
Figure it out.
Take some classes.
Learn how to use Google analytics.
Figure out what kinds of data are available to you and use them to your advantage.
It’s not difficult and, if you think about allowing data to tell you a story versus “ack! math!”, you’ll find great success.
Think about it this way: let’s say you have a Facebook ad campaign that, at its simplest, leads people to something you sell online.
How much did you spend on Facebook ads in the last 30 days? And how much money did it make?
If you spent $6,000 and made $110,000, your profit is $104,000…or 95 percent profit.
Use numbers to prove the work you do is an investment, not an expense.
If you do, you’ll always climb up the corporate ladder or have clients pounding on your door.
Use Social Media for Sources and Biz Dev
Learn how to use social media to connect with, and build relationships with, the journalists, bloggers, and influencers who can help your organization grow.
But it doesn’t stop there. A lot of the relationships you’ll build will also help with business development.
Don’t get tunnel vision when you’re using social media. Think about how those online relationships can/will help in all facets of the organization.
Use social media to connect with the organizations you think you’d like to work with.
One of my favorite things to do is do a Twitter search for organizations or titles on our wish list, and then put them in a list.
Each morning, I go in and look to see what they’ve tweeted and respond, engage, and connect.
It’s crazy how well it works—and how quickly you can build relationships that way.
Get a list of prospects from your sales team and do the same thing.
If you can get a sales person in the door because of your efforts, you will always have a job.
Integration, Integration, Integration
But if you need some quick ideas on how to integrate, get started with these
- Writing a blog post on a specific topic? Where else can you use it? A white paper, a speech, a video, a podcast?
- Have an interview with a major trade publication? How else can you use that content?
- Perhaps a behind-the-scenes video you took during the interview or a FAQ on the website of the stuff that landed on the cutting room floor.
We have to think beyond one tactic and integrate the PESO model.
The Communicator Skills That Will Drive Revenue
If we aren’t careful, communicators will have to be fearful of our jobs with SEO experts and marketers taking over what we’re extraordinarily qualified to do.
If you figure out how to prove your work drives revenue, you’ll have a seat at the table, and you’ll become an asset instead of a liability.
Now the floor is yours.
What other communicator skills do you think we need to embrace right now to prepare for the future?