When was the last time you picked up a newspaper? Subscribed to a magazine? Caught the 5:00 news?
I have to admit, for me it’s been awhile.
I represent a growing trend in media consumption. I’ve never paid for cable, opting for binge sessions on Netflix. Even if I had cable (or hooked my TV to get local channels- legally of course), I’m rarely home before seven. I don’t subscribe to the local newspaper. My magazine subscriptions have long past expired. In fact, most of my magazines remain unread collecting dust in a corner. And while I do listen to the radio, I increasingly use my driving time for podcasts, audio books and iTunes.
This doesn’t mean I don’t consume media. In fact, I consume an outlandish amount.
I am a diehard podcast listener. The number of favorite influencers on Twitter keeps rising. I even throw in a few major news outlets into the mix. You have to get your news somehow. Where all else fails, there are Daily Show clips. Even Facebook recounts groundbreaking news in a timely manner. I religiously follow several blogs, belong to three active online communities and scan through my g-mail promotions tab for interesting tidbits.
With traditional PR rooted in print, media coverage and press releases, what does that look like when marketing to me?
Wait, we need to pause on press releases for a second. True confessions: when have you ever read a press release?
You raising your hands, editing the dry and miserable texts for work doesn’t count.
To bridge the gap, a new subculture of PR is emerging: Digital PR. This evolution accounts for millennials and plays into their digital additive tendencies. It also touches the growing numbers of Generation X who has opted for mobile media consumption. And luckily for me, it is almost completely devoid of press releases.
Here’s what this growing trend in Digital PR looks like:
Quality over Quantity
One of the primary elements of Digital PR is targeted, focused and specific outreach. There are billions of people in the world. Your message only resonates with a selective group.
Focus efforts on narrowing on your specific audience. Reaching 100 interested individuals is more beneficial than 10,000 people in the wrong demographic.
Odds are no one is actively looking for you.
It’s nothing against your message; it’s the harsh reality of a noisy digital world. But the good news is that humans are creatures of habit. Many of us have different outlets that we regularly turn to for inspiration, education, news or thought leadership.
This means prime hunting grounds.
Every industry has an establish platform drawing in followers. Identify the outlets your audience hangs out at. Then become an expert there through guest posting. While not every platform will allow this, many are actively looking for meaningful content to share with their tribe.
Ensure you provide high quality content relevant to their audience. If it doesn’t enrich their lives, it’s a waste of your time.
Unless your audience is my grandma’s 89 year old boyfriend, odds are high they are engaged in social. It’s no secret that social media blew up over the last decade. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you how many different outlets there are.
But there are the major ones.
Choose selectively based on your where your tribe hangs out. If you’re targeting a mid twenties woman to showcase your clothing line, be on Pinterest. Want to get the attention of a thirty-year-old male service provider: LinkedIn. Tweens your range? Find a teenage and have them explain Snapchat* to you. And if you are in the restaurant business, keep an eye on what Mogul is planning to bring to the market.
Once you are there, focus your efforts on building relationships. Relationships build community. Community fuels success.
By the versatile nature of the digital realm, there are more tools accessible to digital PR approaches. They also play into the progression of Google’s algorithm trends. SEO is the new real estate.
While traditional and digital PR have the same goals, they each approach the space differently. And those fundamental differences define both the effectiveness and types audiences reached.
One of my favorite elements of digital PR plans is we can leverage your PR hit across multiple platforms. It’s never a one trick pony in the digital space.
*I have yet to navigate the power of a four second image. But there are experts dominating that field. One just hopes they use their power for good.
Two powerful forces in the digital space came together to share insights to dominating an emerging industry at Business Forward’s kickoff event February 9th. Michael Stelzner and John Lee Dumas could both be called the Godfather of their industry, Social Media and Podcasting respectively. The pre event marketing teased an evening of seasoned insights calculated to give you tools to conquer.
And in short, they brought it.
While it was an entire evening of rock star advice, here were my two key takeaways:
Act “As If"
Formerly known as “fake until you make it,” both entrepreneurs validated the method of moving forward without tipping your hand that you are new to the industry. Everyone started at square one at some point. The key was to not let anyone know that happens the particular square you’re occupying. You’ll only be there momentarily anyways.
One of my favorite Stelzner quotes of the night was, “Create professionalism to overcome the ‘who are you’ complex.”
This gem came on the heels of describing how professionalism opened doors. Three days into launching his business, Stelzner requested an interview with a prominent business owner. The secretary pulled up his website for validation. Impressed, she scheduled the interview. That was a big win all because of a well designed website.
Dumas executed a similar strategy. He was able to secure several big names as guests for his “Power 30” interviews. Little did all the guests know this was just a fancy designation for the first 30 interviews to launch his podcast. But because leveraged the brand recognition of his first guests, secured through a personal relationship, he was able to lock down 40 interviews to launch his podcast.
This strategy also quieted the negative voices telling them that they couldn’t achieve their goals.
Free. Valuable. Consistent.
While it might be a short statement, those were three huge concepts.
Let’s start with free.
As Stelzner commented, it sounds like a funny business model. But this was how he built genuine relationships. Those relationships built the foundation for his business success and brand loyalty.
He drew a correlation to a parent giving a child a gift. You wouldn’t give a gift, then immediately turn on the child and demand, “Now what are you going to do for me?” That would be ludicrous. The same was true in the marketing world.
Instead he advised, “Give real gifts. Be Genuine. Don’t expect anything in return. You can be strategic. But take advantage of the abundant opportunity to give. Relationships will blossom as a result.
And both entrepreneurs built phenomenally successful businesses based entirely around providing high volumes of FREE content.
If doesn’t have value, no one will care. And if no one cares, you can’t develop a following. Or much of a business for that matter.
Stelzner attributed understanding psychology as the defining mark between good marketers and great marketers. When he understood his audience, pinpointing their needs, he created better value. It was even better the more specific he got. It created a larger impact.
To further Stelzner’s point, Dumas brought Jimmy to the table. Jimmy was 35 years old, had two kids, worked in a job he hated and had a 27-minute commute to work. And he was about 70% fictional. Jimmy was EntrepreneurOnFire’s avatar. Everything Dumas created was specifically designed for Jimmy.
“What would Jimmy think about this product?”
“How would Jimmy respond to this ad?”
“Would Jimmy share this with his friends?”
EntrepreneurOnFire was created to give Jimmy the tools and motivation to launch. Talk about valuable.
EnrepreneurOnFire has always been a daily podcast. That was 7 days a week. It has been running for over 800 days. That was an unheard of level of frequency in the podcasting space. But it was how Dumas separated his podcast from all the other noise in the podcasting space. Now, he is one of the top ranked podcasts. Just by sheer numbers, how could he not be?
Social Media Examiner has exhibited a similar diligence with their daily podcast, tremendous blogging volume and bi annual conference. I tapped into their e-mail subscription about a year ago. I received daily e-mails jam-packed full of content.
Like I mentioned at the start, it was an entire evening filled to the brim with powerful tidbits for business. These were just the two that left a mark when they hit home.
Thank you to Business Forward for providing an incredible venue. And as I work these two concepts into my growing business, I will forever be grateful to both Michael Stelzner and John Lee Dumas for their gift of time and insights.
The powerful messages presented at the Smart 2014 were astonishing. The energy was electric, almost palpable throughout the historic Shrine Auditorium, as 8 different speakers inspired 7,000 people. As a mantra driving the conference, the event opened with Ronald Reagan setting the framework:
“And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins.” Reagan continued,“It won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge,”
The compelling segments following Reagan’s charge gave everyone direction and passion to mold those conversations in a way to change not only my life, but to have a butterfly effect on generations to follow. The ultimate grounding.
Communication Built on Love & Respect
Conversations around the table cover a variety of topics, and the full range of emotions. Dave Ramsey described his personal gamut from excitement with the announcement of a child, terror with the first trip to the emergency room to the fear signing bankruptcy papers. Life happens, and it is rarely simple.
And the foundation for successfully navigating this thing we call life fundamentally comes down to communication. The most basic form of communication is between a husband and wife.
Dr. Emerson Eggerichs had the audience rolling laughter as he outlined the obvious differences between men and women, from describing their wardrobe to purchasing “self-help” books to how they perceive value. But the clear message was recognizing that men and women have vulnerabilities where the other has strengths.
Rather than passing judgment, instead use your strength to compliment theirs, learning to address their felt need during conflict. For women, use your loving ability to exhibit tremendous respect. For men, showcase your incredible respect in loving tones. By honoring their strength, your relationship will strengthen, giving you the power to navigate challenges life throws at you triumphantly.
Dave Ramsey stood before the table on the stage. “This is where I decided to change my life.” The raw emotion was palpable as he described determining “enough is enough” when he confronted the man in the mirror, propelling him to embark on building his own business.
Chris Hogan characterized a pivotal step to moving toward success when you develop those life-altering moments as identifying the difference between chance and opportunity. “Opportunities lead you somewhere. Chances only have a 50/50 chance of leading you somewhere. “
When you develop those life-altering moments, one of the key elements to successfully moving forward hinges on the ability to identify the difference between chance and opportunity. Chris Hogan characterized the difference as “Opportunities lead you somewhere. Chances only have a 50/50 chance of leading you somewhere.” Grab the opportunities, and avoid the chances.
Andy Andrews narrowed down the science of creating change to two key elements. First, determine “What’s in it for me?” Second, establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Encouragement is great. Proof is better. Especially the type of proof that makes things so clear you can’t see or believe anything but that. When that type of proof collides with what’s in it for me, change happens instantaneously. Harness this power to pursue opportunities when you discover clear proof that what you are doing isn’t working.
Whose Problems are they?
Life is rarely cut and dry. It involves people, lots of people. And people aren’t perfect. And with the imperfections combined with crazy life situations, many times we find our selves in problematic situations.
And Dr. Henry Cloud helped describe how to clarify when these problematic situations are our problem, or your opportunity to help someone else have some problems.
It’s called boundaries, and they come in handy more often than we realize. You only have the ability to control you, and how others influence you. Boundaries help you keep in perspective when other people camouflage their problems as ours. This allows us to focus on pursuing the opportunities
Developing a legacy from Change
The true power comes when we magnify the change in our lives to create a legacy of change. Andrews said it best with, “Every move you make matters.” And this applies to everything, even something as simple as the flutter of butterfly wings. Imagine the impact of conversations, mentorships, generosity, love or respect if something as a flutter can change wind patterns around the world.
And one of the most powerful of impacts we can create comes back to those moments around the dinner table, with your family.
Passing on that Legacy
Children, perhaps one of the most apparent ways to leave a legacy, have the ability to learn so much from their parents. In fact, the most important channel we have to empowering our children is through active parenting. Dr. Meg Meeker described the most important messages your kids can take away from parents:
- What do you THINK about me?
- How do you FEEL about me?
- What do you HOPE for me?
She highlighted that parents are highlighted with all the tools we need to successfully raise the next generations, especially dads. The key is to ensure they get the right messages from us.
Rachel Cruze, living proof that leaving a legacy works, empowered parents to engage their children to continue in their legacy, especially with money. Teach them to work, so they can learn to save, spent and give. Then they have the ability to pass that on to their children, creating powerful generational change.
We are able to leave legacies throughout all areas of our lives. Joy Eggerichs’s new project brought to light one often overlooked area: your relationship. She described the beautiful accountability and transformation "when older couples pour into younger relationships, their relationship is strengthened.”
Driving the Mission Home
As the Smart Conference ended, and thousands of us left feeling inspired and motivated, one phrase kept going through my mind:
“So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins.”
After all eight of the speakers slipped behind Developthe curtain, what remained was the guidance and power to develop life-changing moments around the dinner table. And everyone in the room knew it.
We had the ability to develop a legacy.
You get 7,000 people into a room with a mission to light up Twitter, let’s just say that there were a few stellar tweets. Who knew being smart could be so hilarious!
Even with all of the big data, fancy tools, savvy social networks and increasing capabilities of technology, the key piece to successfully marketing any business is developing strong relationships.
Technology remains a powerful tool. Multiple sessions at Interactive Day San Diego (IDSD) covered ways to integrate technology, develop strong digital campaigns and proper techniques for analytics or other tracking platforms. While very robust capabilities, the strength in all of the digital tools lies in the ability to develop a larger, yet more focused, base to build relationships.
“Big data is really small data,” Dennis Yu, Interactive Day Keynote, stated. He continued to emphasize the importance of using data to better understand your clientele, learn what drives them, and help them create and celebrate success. The real beauty comes when you zero in on your clients, better grasping their individual needs. It’s all about making the right connections and helping other people “become awesome.”
Below are several key takeaways to strengthen your abilities to make meaningful relationships through diving into digital marketing.
Trust: It’s a Journey
Moz CEO & Founder Rand Fishkin described the process of building engaged relationships, or “fans,” as a journey. Not just a short journey, one that takes place over weeks, or even months focused on developing trust with your audience.
Trust is a fickle. It needs to be earned.
Many brands seek to develop a large followings of dedicated fans overnight. Shoot off an e-mail into the void, post a few intriguing photos to Facebook combined with several well crafted tweets, and poof, instant fan base.
Reality, on the other hand, presents a very different story. Consumers, constantly overwhelmed and over stimulated by a relentless stream of information and ads, seek something relevant to their lives, ignoring all other content not sparking interest or adding true value.
And that is where the journey to building trust begins. Become the brand offering relevant information to enhance your audience’s life. Establish your relationship through becoming a trusted expert, integrating your best customer service aspects and extended resources through digital channels, serving real people on the other side.
And weeks, or even months later, you will start to develop a base of committed, loyal customers. Because you have proven to be a valuable and trusted addition to their lives.
Authenticity: Being Consistent
No one likes fake friends, and the same goes in the world of marketing. A strong brand develops a consistent message, quality of service and user experience throughout all platforms and stages of the relationship.
Melonie Gallegos, founder of Fandom Marketing, urged aspiring marketers that “Integrated communications who are consistent provide the best experience. “
Companies that provide great support when buying a product, all but disappearing once you try to implement their product tell customers that the sale ranks higher than the customer experience. While that may seem obvious, consider the way your brand interacts with people across all platforms (social, digital, phone, e-mail and in person). In other words, all touch points with your company?
Do they experience a high level of response on twitter, but hear only virtual crickets on e-mail? How does the online feedback compare to when they call in? Is your messaging on one platform contradicting that on another channel?
If you are unsure what type of experience customers are having, ask them. Eliciting customer feedback shows commitment to presenting an authentic front, as well as your company’s commitment to user experience.
Before diving into every budding platform, companies need to focus on the level of service they provide, ensuring they are representing their brand well across all fronts. Companies that don’t run the risk of feeling fake, and with so many competitors out there, the last image your company wants to portray is unauthentic.
David Shing, IDSD keynote and Digital Prophet for AOL, put it best. “Build experiences people want to share.” And that holds true across all platforms.
Connection: A Piece of the Relationship
Customers are looking for more than just what your brand or product can do. They want to feel inspired, motivated and connected to your brand. And your goal should be to provide just that, letting them become a part of your mission!
While there are multiple vehicles to engage your audience, storytelling harnesses the most power to develop deeper connections.
Matt Faulk from Basic Academy defined storytelling as “articulating what a brand is about and what they stand for and connecting it to what your customer is about and what they stand for. “
Start by understanding your target audience, what defines them, scares them, inspires them or even brings them joy. Develop your stories to resonate with them on one of those levels, focusing on the goal of eliciting human emotions connected to real experiences around your brand.
Once you can do that, the digital platform creates a multitude of ways to deliver your stories. Write it out on a blog, do a photo slideshow, create a video or any endless number combinations to share your story. And if you did it right, your audience will share it with their friends as well.
Celebration: It’s Working
You know your marketing is working when your fans start promoting your product for you. This marks the golden state for marketers, a utopia of sorts. Your fans do all the work and you just sit back raking in the rewards!
No? Well, a girl can dream. While a little far fetched, a golden standard to measure your company’s success, both in marketing and providing quality service, is when customers start promoting your service or products on their own. This doesn’t mean that your job as a marketer is completed, but it’s a moment to enjoy and celebrate a milestone.
Celebration works both ways. Just as happy customers spread the word about your brand, you need to celebrate their success. Remember, all marketing boils down to relationships. Dennis Yu recounted times Blitzmetrics went all out to celebrate client’s success, printing and mailing human sized posters depicting an impressive milestone or bringing fans into the spotlight at large events to recount their accomplishments.
Once your audience starts promoting your brand, you suddenly delve into a new world where you have user-generated content to implement into your marketing strategies. And what better way to develop an authentic experience, gain trust or connect with your audience than providing material from real live users.
What personally inspired me most about the IDSD was the how the speakers and attendees lived out the emphasis on building relationships. Conversations flowed on twitter, filled with suggestions and free resource guides. Every presenter offered up links to their slides, many proving e-mails for attendees to seek follow up information.
But it didn’t stay in the digital sphere. Several presenters stayed for the post event, as well as a large percentage of attendees. And that is where the bridge from digital conversations to real connections emerged.
I personally enjoyed Dennis Yu’s commitment to practice what he preached. Quickly responding to my thank you for an excellent presentation tweet, his response amazed me.
“Alexandra, thanks! What can I do for you to help you be even more awesome?”
Meeting in person provided a similar experience with his first comment “How can I help you today?” After 20 minutes of dedicated help, including e-mailing me a list of suggestions, his only request was that I pay it forward.
Now that is dedication to building quality relationships. I hope to pay it forward in full, as well as see other companies exhibit the same dedication to building relationships.