It’s hard to miss all the articles and blog posts about how the PR industry is changing, how it’s integrating with new skill sets. Data! Analytics! Graphic design! [Insert buzzword here]! It can get a little crowded and difficult to decipher what is buzz and what you should actually be focusing on learning. Today, I wanted to dive a little more into my personal experience on the subject – including why PR pros should honestly start thinking about expanding their skill sets (and where to start).
But first, let’s talk about me. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it to a few self-centered sentences. I’ve been at SHIFT for five years now – six, if you include my internship stints prior to graduation. I spent the first 3.5 years working on the technology PR team. I loved it, and I learned a lot as I evolved in my roles there. Toward the end of 2013, I realized that I wanted to grow in a different direction. The Agency had just sprouted a marketing technology team arm, and I had been itching to learn more in that area for some time. I was already starting to see the need to integrate our traditional PR practices with marketing tech. I wanted to help make that a reality. With SHIFT’s permission, I joined the MarTech team. The rest is history, and it still stands as one of the best career moves I’ve made to date.
So you see, I’ve been there. I’ve been on the PR side, and I’ve ventured over to the digital side. I’m on the frontlines of seeing how marketing and PR can work together.
Here is a mini-rundown of a few of the ways I’ve seen marketing tech support our PR efforts:
- It can help extend the life of media hits. PR pros work hard to secure media hits, and a stellar feature in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times deserves to have a longer life than the hot minute it gets post-publication. Many companies will tell you a hit like this can drive a spike in traffic, but it’s often times short lived before traffic returns back to normal. At SHIFT, we have an in-house syndication method that extends the life of a media hit and places it on sites that matter to your audience, drawing more eyeballs – and in some cases, more revenue – along the way.
- The ability to show our PR efforts are working. Google Analytics is a tool that can help businesses measure a bunch of different things, but it can also be a great asset for PR pros. With client permission to access their Analytics account, we have the ability to point to situations where our efforts (be it a media hit, a syndication campaign, a social media campaign, etc) have tangible results –whether it’s web traffic or actual revenue. This is pretty powerful.
- Creating content that assists our earned media efforts. There are certain cases where our clients simply don’t have any active, exciting news to share. That doesn’t mean our job to generate more awareness stops. It means it’s time to get creative. Creating content – whether it’s a white paper, an Infographic or original research – can help make news for us. As long as it’s fresh and original, we can use this content for earned media purposes.
- Our reporting has stepped up. Reporting probably brings a few moans and groans to the table, but it’s a crucial part of showing what we’ve done has paid off. Tapping into new sources of data via all sorts of tools has expanded the way we report for our clients. We can show them their share of voice in the marketplace, we can point to where their media efforts need to be stronger and we can break down how many times an article or piece of content has been shared across a variety of different networks. This is an area that will continue to evolve thanks to our BFF, data.
So where do you start? What are some of the must-have marketing skills. Well, for one, I’ll point you to an eBook our VP of Marketing Tech, Chris Penn, did. But as someone who has been in your shoes, here are a few of the initial things I think you should have in your tool belt:
- Google Analytics knowledge – Google offers training courses that will teach you the ins and outs of the platform. They’re excellent and don’t require a ton of time. However, one of the best ways I’ve learned Google Analytics is to dive in and play around with it – even if that means attaching a personal blog to an account just to check out the different sections.
- Social Media Analytics – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook all offer analytics and insights into brand pages. Get to know them! There is some pretty useful information there that can not only tell you how you’re doing but also help shape your content strategy (and heck, maybe even give you some pitching ideas). We can help you get started with our primers on Twitter & LinkedIn Analytics.
- Digital Advertising – Specifically starting with paid social media promotion. I’m talking Promoted Tweets, Sponsored Facebook Content, Sponsored LinkedIn content, etc. We hear more and more about how social has essentially become pay-to-play for brands, and that’s because in order to get in front of the audience your client wants, you’ll most likely have to cough up some cash.
One of the ways I learn on a regular basis is by keeping a solid industry reading list that I keep in Feedly and check every day. Here is a starter’s kit of digital/marketing-focused blogs and publications I recommend reading:
Note: That list is based on personal preferences and is not necessarily SHIFT-endorsed. If you’d like a full list of my industry reads, hit me up on Twitter @agrinavich.
These days, marketing and PR are speaking a very similar language – just with slightly different dialects. As you immerse yourself in marketing-related content, you’ll realize you can grasp it. You’ll start to see how both industries connect with each other. Sure, there will be technical aspects that will take some time and practice to learn, but the underlying foundation of marketing is not far from what we do in PR. And together, they’re pretty powerful in helping a brand tell its story and generate awareness and audience.
Senior Marketing Analyst