More and more, I’ve been talking to business owners and marketing managers that feel overwhelmed by all the marketing channels out there.
You know you can’t possibly do it all. You believe that your job as a leader is to decide where to put your focus each day.
But it’s a lot easier to give lip service to those ideas than to live with the feeling that there’s always something more that you can be doing.
What keeps me steady and focused is having my own hierarchy that helps me prioritize the marketing I do for B. I’ve recently revised and updated that hierarchy, and I thought I’d share it with you today to see if it gives you some food for thought for your own marketing to do list.
Here’s the basic hierarchy I’m using now:
Owned content, or the content I create and publish on my own platforms, is the foundation of my marketing plan.
Time spent: It can take me anywhere from 1-3 hours a week to produce 1-2 pieces of unique content.
There are a few reasons I prioritize producing blog and email content above all else:
- It’s the best way for me to share my expertise and build trust with business leaders and marketing pros looking for PR and marketing insights for their business.
- Blogging more than once a week has been shown to exponentially increase traffic to your website.
- No matter what changes Facebook or any other social media site makes, I know that I have ultimate control over how the content on my own site is presented.
- The more I blog, the easier the content flows. When I take long breaks, starting up again is much harder. It’s easier for me to maintain a regular writing schedule to be hot-and-cold about creating content.
- When you communicate regularly to your list, it’s easier to launch. It can feel awkward to promote a new program when you haven’t been regularly providing value with content, and it should! All taking and no giving is no good for anyone. When you make a point to email your list regularly, sales emails don’t feel like a big deal. They’re welcomed by the people who have been gratefully and interestedly following your emails all along.
I also want to note here that people tend to get hung up on the difference between a blog and an email. But this is a false distinction. The words “blog” and “email” and even “podcast” describe the container of the content — not the substance. In other words, you can create one piece of content and share it with your blog for people who like to subscribe to RSS Feeds and to your email list for people who like to subscribe to email lists.
It’s like the difference between reading a book in hardcover, paperback or on a Kindle. Your audience will have different preferences, but ultimately, what they want is to read the content of the book in their preferred container.
Most business owners tend to give their email lists a little extra love in the form of bonus content or opportunities, because of how valuable it is when someone gives you their email address. It shows a high level of trust and engagement. But if you’ve been stressed out about what to put in your blog versus your in email, just publish the lion’s share of your content to both!
When I’m releasing a course or program, launch-specific content comes next.
Time spent: This can be up to 30 hours a week in the 2 weeks leading up to a first-time launch, because I do all the back-end work myself. I need a VA! :-)
Often this encompasses blog and email content, but launches often require a little extra, so I break it down a little differently:
- If I’m launching to an interest list, I don’t want to stop communicating with my main list.
- Webinars have become a big part of my launch process and require extra creation above my normal blog posts and emails.
- I tend to group any special social media content here like a new Facebook page cover (these get shown to more of your fans than regular status shares).
PR opportunities are the next step.
Time spent: Roughly 1 hour a week to pitch + up to 2 hours to follow-through on opportunities.
I used to do a lot of PR for my own business, but when I started working with clients, I let it slide.
I was fortunate. Before I opened up for PR clients, I had been online blogging and doing guest posts and interviews for years. Gosh, I was design blogging on the side back in 2010. I already had an email list full of email that knew, liked and trusted my business. People who were waiting for me to say I was taking on clients.
So I slacked off on the PR side. And it hurt. A lot.
My site traffic, domain authority (that’s the measure of how google and other search engines rank your site), and email subscriptions all went down quite considerably.
So now I’m making PR for B a much bigger priority. At this point, it only takes me about an hour or so to put together a new blog post, so there’s no reason I can’t spend another hour doing PR. I just started this up again, and I’m excited to see the results. Right now, I’ve got 5 guest posts and interviews in the hopper.
Social media comes last, if at all.
Time spent: Maybe 30 minutes a week.
I used to love Twitter so much, but social media has felt more like a promotion ground than one where people are genuinely connecting. I haven’t given up social media (for business — my instagram is full of cat photos) entirely, but I’m strongly considering it.
My plan is to run a 1 or 2 month-long test and see what happens. I’m going to track how much traffic and engagement I can generate with social media before deciding to give it up entirely.
I want to be clear that I’m not recommending you quit social media or make it last on your priority list. My friend Megan Auman gets amazing results using Pinterest for her jewelry business. This one definitely depends on your audience. You can look into social media demographics to see where your audience is spending their time.
Ultimately, I try to find a balance in my marketing between what I can track and measure and the intangibles. You can’t easily measure the way your blog content builds trust (although I do get very nice emails that help!), but based on what we know about human nature, it’s reasonable that this is a widespread conclusion and strategy. After all, trust in relationships is fostered when people show up. When they’re there for you when you need them. For me, blogging, emails and podcasting are the equivalent.
I want to be here for you when you navigate over to B, looking for something to get you unstuck around your marketing strategy or PR.
So there you have it. My marketing priorities each week. Sometimes when I have a little extra time, I take on a special project. Like this week, I made a little graphic for you to reference if you want to follow a similar plan. 😊
When people ask me whether they should hire a PR agency or do their own PR in-house, I often want to know what kind of budget they have for hiring. Too often, small businesses only budget for 3-6 months of PR agency support, which can lead to disappointment if you don’t have a plan in place for maintaining your PR program after the contract ends.
While you might think that hiring an agency to do a 3-month blitz is the most effective way to get publicity for your business, the truth is that consistency is the key to seeing increased traffic and sales.
I’d much rather see you send out one pitch a week than blast 100 press releases out in a brief campaign.
Why is this so important?
Here are my top 5 reasons for recommending a slow-and-steady PR program over a one-time blitz.
1. A longer PR campaign is more effective in introducing your work to a new audience.
One of the most important factors for building your reputation is simply showing up with your message, time and time again. You know that old marketing adage that a customer needs to see your business 7 times before they remember you? It’s true.
That’s about how much exposure it takes to encode your business into an individual’s long-term memory. So when you’re building your brand, it’s critical that you aren’t just a flash in the pan.
You need to get in front of your audience again and again.
If you do a one-time PR blitz, you might reach the same person two or three or even five times. But in a longer program, you have multiple chances over a longer time period to reach this individual, through the original placement and as you make a point to repeatedly share your publicity on social media.
2. Repeat exposure to your message and work builds credibility.
Think for a second about some experts and business leaders you trust. Chances are, you’ve seen them in the media or on blogs or podcasts a few times.
The more often you come into contact with an idea, the more credible that idea becomes.
This is how ideas — both good and bad — enter the mainstream. For example, part of the reason so many people still believe in the link between autism, despite the fact that the study it was based on was roundly discredited, is how often the idea and its proponents were cited in the media and on blogs.
On the flip side, repeat exposure to celebrities dumping buckets of ice on their head helped the ALS Association raise $115 million. One viewing of the Ice Bucket Challenge could easily be dismissed as a fluke, but when you look at a timeline of the campaign, you can see how the fundraiser took off after the 6th or 7th public challenge.
It’s hard to manufacture true vitality, but through PR, you can give your ideas more traction.
3. You get more opportunities to pivot.
A lot of business leaders come to B wanting to know what’s newsworthy about their product or business. They’re worried that there’s little to share, but more often than not, we’re working to hone in on the best story angles to pitch. For every new project, we start with 3-5 different pitch angles.
After working for a few months, we’re able to discern what’s most effective — both in terms of getting coverage but also in terms of traffic generation and sales.
A consistent PR program gives you the chance to learn and adapt your strategy and angles to the market, leading to you a lot more success in the long-term.
4. You’ll get better at it.
Just like any other skill that’s new to you, the more you pitch, the better you’ll get at it. You, or your marketing assistant, will start to see more opportunities, develop angles with more finesse, and get them out faster.
When I train small businesses to do their own PR, I tend to recommend that you budget 4 hours a week at the start, with the expectation that your time commitment will go down to 1-2 hours a week for pitching. Following up on press opportunities will take some extra time, of course, but that’s what we all want!
5. A longer program tends to lead to more coverage.
PR can be a numbers game. This means that, generally speaking, the more pitches you send out out, the more coverage will come back. I’ve found a 15-20% success rate to be a good baseline for most small businesses starting out with PR.
But this won’t be the case if you’re spamming press releases to journalists. The success rate goes way down if your pitches aren’t targeted to the contacts you’re reaching out to. That’s why, though it may be counterintuitive, a slow and steady PR program where you only pitch one contact a week will often lead to more placements than a one-time blitz reaching 100 or more media contacts.
Have you thought about launching an in-house PR program? Sign up for my email list to find out about training programs geared to thought leaders and small teams.
Why do companies do PR?
I got this question last week in the course I run with Megan Auman, and I realized that you might be wondering the same thing.
A lot of people have this notion that PR is the next step for their business or that it’s something all established businesses do, without really understanding why.
And it’s no wonder! Public relations can run the gamut from media relations to investor relations to internal communications to crisis management.
What do all of these things have in common?
I tend to think of this question in terms of what PR does best, no matter what your business goals are.
PR helps your business engage your audience at every stage of know, like and trust.
Before anyone buys from you, there are three things you need to establish:
First, your audience has to know about your work. If new people aren’t coming to your website or if business leads have dried up, your business isn’t going anywhere.
Second, they need to like what they see. Whether you offer a physical product that people buy based on taste or a service-based business that sells solutions, it’s important that your work is attractive to your buyer.
And third, they won’t buy from you until they can trust that you deliver. This is especially true for businesses that operate online. If your audience doesn’t trust you, game over.
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
– Bob Burg, the Go-Giver
Most of the marketing advice you find online deals with promotion, or the “know” piece of the equation. Social media, link building, SEO and traffic generation strategies are all solutions to the first problem of helping people find your work in the first place.
This is also where I find that most of my clients and students focus their media relations goals. They measure PR results in terms of how much traffic gets generated.
But did you realize that media coverage also makes your business more likable?
The strongest, most powerful sales engine is a referral. We tend to think of referrals mostly in relation to a friend or colleague giving a direct tip. “Check out this web designer I used. She was great!”
But we’re not only influenced by our friends and colleagues.
A referral from a tastemaker can get you to take a second look at a trend or consider a service that you never thought you needed. Magazine coverage, blogger endorsements and well-timed Tweets can not only lead you to know about a business, but prime you to like that business as well.
Which brings us to trust. The same factors that influence whether you’ll like a company or product also give a leg up in the trust factor.
Your favorite bloggers and magazines aren’t out there covering every business. No, they pick and choose who to include in their round-ups, features and profiles.
On some level, we believe in the bloggers and magazine editors we follow. We trust their recommendations to be thought-out and researched. Or else we wouldn’t seek them out.
Your audience does the same. So when they see your company and work covered in their favorite sources, they’re being primed to trust you as a resource.
When you get a media placement, ideally you’re positioning your work and your message in a venue that your audience already knows, likes and trusts. I had a conversation with best-selling author Chris Guillebeau about his book publicity last year, and he values most the coverage that runs on blogs and media outlets that his audience already interacts with. That’s how he knows he’ll reach more of the right people.
This is a very smart way to think about PR. When a member of your target audience finds you covered or referenced on a website they already like and trust, some of those feelings are passed on to your business or brand.
This is what PR does best. One placement can help you get known, be perceived as more likable and earn the trust of a new audience.