Head of International Partnership, SEMrush
The line between PR and content marketing continues to blur as digital becomes synonymous with tradition when it comes to getting your brand name out there. Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to understand the behavioural changes in their audience and create brand awareness in the crowded and noisy marketplace.
This means data-driven marketing becomes even more crucial – PR professionals, as well as content marketers, will need to bank on analytics as to the driving force behind brand storytelling and promotion.
So, while every other article is predicting that Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality will change the way PR or branded content works, let us focus on stark reality and see how we can use the tools and data available to every marketer and still adjust to the changes and disruptions that 2019 brings our way.
Search Engine Visibility Matters More Than Ever
As PR moves from traditional industry magazines and newspapers to digital media, a very significant factor is the visibility of content on search engines. Media and public relations no longer exist in a vacuum – like other areas of brand visibility in the new age, they must ride on top of the search, which is one of the most common activities that the average person undertakes from their mobile phone.
SEO, content marketing and digital PR share the common objective of putting your brand message in front of your customers when they’re actively searching for it. According to SEMrush’s ranking factor research, direct visits are the number one signal that influences Google rankings. This is where digital PR becomes even more important. Online PR efforts project you as a brand, which garners more searches – you might even pop up in Google’s automatic suggestions.
Eventually, this leads to more direct visits to your website as well as more engagement with visitors, because they are already primed to interact with your brand.
Further, when a media piece that talks about your brand links back to your website, it gives your site credibility in the eyes of Google, because this link is akin to an authoritative mention.
An online visibility toolkit like SEMrush helps you identify the best publications from where to build links. For example, you start out by adding your domain to the Link Building Tool, specify the keywords that are important to you, and then go on to add your competitors’ websites. With a simple click of a button, the tool identifies the most authoritative and relevant prospects based on your data. These are collected from a database of relevant sites as well as your competitors’ backlink profiles. You have the option of connecting your inbox to the tool and then sending outreach emails to these publications, asking if they’ll publish your content.
Niche Authority Increases with In-Depth Content
Obviously, before you can get splashed all over the media with your thought leadership content, it is imperative that you build a good corpus of valuable content that is associated with your brand.
The key to creating content that resonates with your users is identifying the words and phrases that they use in their conversations around the topic as well as while searching for solutions for their problems. In the digital industry, these are called “keywords”.
In order to create content on all areas and topics related to your business, and craft unified messaging that positions your brand exactly how you want it, it is necessary that you undertake good keyword research. Another great option in the SEMrush tool suite – the Keyword Magic Tool – lets you create lists of different topics related to your core offering.
For example, if you’re a manufacturer of electric cars planning to undertake a huge PR push, you can simply input electric cars as a keyword into this tool, and it will return other keywords associated with that set, such as cheap electric cars, Mercedes electric car, electric car market in India, and so on, along with the search visibility trends, difficulty in ranking, competition and other metrics for each keyword. Not only that, but it can also pull upsets of terms associated with electric cars, such as tax breaks, mileage, and charging stations, each of which you can assess separately.
This will ensure your content appeals to every segment of your audience. It can also be presented in various formats on different platforms if the language, tone and voice are ideal for that platform.
Influencers Gain More Trust Than Media
The Edelman Trust Barometer has found that media has lost its perception as a trusted institution across the world. With the rise and rise of fake news, people no longer look to the media as a reliable source of information. Every piece of information is questioned before it is consumed. This has made the jobs of journalists, PR professionals, marketers and creatives infinitely more difficult.
Fortunately, there is a visible solution on the horizon. The Edelman study also found that the word of experts, successful entrepreneurs and CEOs is taken seriously by customers and industry peers. This is a reminder that audiences immensely value the knowledge and insights shared by “influencers” in every industry.
Until now, it was obvious that brand ambassadors were paid by the brands to strut and promote their stuff. However, with influencer marketing, the audience knows that the voice they listen to is skilled, informed, and more importantly, will give an honest opinion even when they’re paid.
Just like search engines, social media is an inseparable part of your overall digital strategy. And influencers carry a lot of authority on social media. Having them on your side gives you access to a huge audience base that is already receptive to your brand messaging. Thus, it’s a no-brainer that you need to put people over the platform, i.e. bank on the fact that selected influencers in your niche will get you more trust and credibility than the best or biggest media outlets.
Over to You
Now that PR has gone digital, it has gained a permanently evolving and dynamic nature. Content marketers need to try anything and everything they can in order to engage their audience meaningfully and build trust. If you master the three fundamentals that we discussed here, you will be well poised to succeed in communicating your brand message successfully in 2019 and beyond.