From PR to Marketing: How Communicators Can Expand Their Skill Set

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! [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. But it is critical to gain new, digital skills as communicators. It’s what will turn PR into strategic communications, and ensure marketing and PR can work together.

Here is a mini-rundown of a few ways marketing skills can benefit communications programs:

  • 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? Here are some of the must-have marketing skills:

  • 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.

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.

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