Digital Marketing: Where PR and Marketing Meet

In many organizations PR and Marketing are not created equal.  Oftentimes PR reports to Marketing. Why?  If you are a public relations professional you know how much your expertise impacts marketing strategies, especially due to the evolution of the digital landscape.  You know where PR and Marketing Meet.

How PR and Marketing are Tied Together

Marketing will handle advertising, design, and copywriting for campaigns.   PR creates stories and messaging from information and research.  Then a publicist or media relations professional will pitch those stories to generate awareness for the brand, product, or individual. PR can do the job using stories on tv, radio, print, and online media.  But, if many people are not watching television news sources, listening to talk radio, or reading newspapers, how does the message get out? According to the Pew Research Center, the largest audience on cable or network news is around 7.5 million for evening, network programs.  Everything else is well below 5 million viewers. Radio World reports that radio listenership is struggling since the pandemic began.  There have been multiple reports on the decrease in traditional newspaper and magazine readership.  Media is more digital and online and this is where PR and Marketing meet.

Digital PR and Why Marketing Needs Us

Public Relations professionals have become much more active creating content for social media and websites.  Content driven social media campaigns are a combination of design efforts from Marketing and  writing from the PR department.  The snappy copy produced in  Marketing is fine for advertising.  But PR people know how to pitch an angle and write the appropriate copy to go along with it.   Also PR people build relationships, which we know is critical for growing a loyal and engaged audience.

Teamwork Leads to Success

So what does it look like when these two departments meet on equal footing?  In an ideal world a team that includes marketing and pr will get together to plan a campaign.  Tasks will be delegated and a structured, executable campaign will result.  Marketing will handle the images and copy, hashtag and competitor research.  It will also have developed a value proposition and target customer(s).  PR  will write blogs, articles, and social media copy.  These professionals will plan a media strategy that includes social platforms and content, plan events, and train spokespeople.

Like me, some PR people are full on Marketers.  In the end we all are determining what motivates people and why they do what they do.  In a sense, people watching and that’s the fun part.

For more information on marketing and pr visit our blog and check out:

Marketing is Not Public Relations

 

 

 

Accessible Design: UI Choices

Accessibility in design, when presented online, extends far beyond the visuals. My last two blog posts in this series focused on color choice and font choice. This post will focus on some more technical aspects of accessibility. These have more to do with user interface, or UI, design and accessibility. Good UI can make or break how some people interact with your content.

UI Essential: Alt-text

I briefly brought up the use of screen readers when I wrote about font choice. Screen readers are a tool that visually impaired users may rely on to navigate the web. Their name is self-explanatory; screen readers read text aloud for users who cannot read. However, text is usually the only thing that screen readers pick up on. They cannot interpret pictures. If you want a user to know what is presented in an image, then you need to use something called “alt-text”. Alt-text is found either in the metadata of an image or in the caption of an image. Some website managers allow you to add this metadata when you upload an image. If you use WordPress, for example, you may have even noticed a box labeled “alt-text” when you upload images.

It is useful to provide alt-text for any non-decorative images. For instance, if a restaurant’s website has an image of their menu uploaded, the alt-text should list off the items on the menu. The same goes for charts or diagrams that rely on visual elements. Otherwise, the information will be inaccessible to a user with a screen reader. With images that don’t have text, you can provide a description. Aim to be as descriptive and concise as possible. A user doesn’t need every little detail, but adding some flair is nice. Using proper alt-text conveys valuable information and makes for a more inclusive experience. If you’d like to include alt-text in social media, you can do so in the description or caption of your image-based posts. It won’t affect the metadata of the uploaded image, but a screen reader will catch it.

Keyboard Access

Making a website keyboard accessible is another technical design element. Many users, both with and without disabilities, rely solely on their keyboard to use their computers. It can be a very efficient way to complete a workflow. It is important that your web page follows some basic, standard commands. For instance, every element should be selectable using the tab key and either the space bar or the enter key should activate an element. These are just a couple examples. For a much more thorough guide, you can consult with WebAIM’s guidelines for keyboard accessibility. 

This one can be a bit harder to implement on social media since you don’t own those domains and can’t edit the code. How accessible those websites are is largely out of your control. However, many people do create their own blogs and websites. If you have a website, keep this in mind when selecting a pre-made theme or customizing one through code.  

I hope this has made you more aware of some of the ways people use the web. Remember that it is, however, only a small sample of the ways you can make things more accessible. The more you think about unique user cases, the more accessible you can make your content!

Accessible Design: Fonts

Most of our daily activities involve reading text in some way, but we usually don’t stop to think about it. When you read the nutrition facts on the back of your morning cereal or pick up your tablet to scroll through the morning news, you don’t consider the typeface you’re looking at. In many cases, this is a good thing. Reading would be very difficult if we had to pause and look at every word or character. Information designed to be accessible should not make a reader struggle. Previously, I discussed some of the basics of how to choose a font. This time, I will be looking at font choice through the lens of accessibility. There are two main ways to achieve accessible design using fonts: consistency and familiarity.

Consistency in Accessible Design

First and foremost, you should stick with one or two fonts in your designs. A separate font for a header and body of text are acceptable. It can help readers easily find what they are looking for. Using too many fonts close together, however, can be confusing. It will make a reader stop and think about what they’re looking at. When reading text, flow is important to understanding. Anything that interrupts that flow makes it less accessible. This can also include using fonts that don’t have even spacing between characters, often referred to as kerning.  Wide gaps between characters can cause a reader to stumble, whereas small gaps can simply make words unreadable.

font samples

Consistency can also mean making sure the font you choose has uniform serif or not. Serif refers to the decorative “tail” that letters sometimes have (Times New Roman is an example of a serif font). Sans-serif fonts, like Arial, do not have these decorative marks. There is ongoing debate over which type of font is better for reading in print versus digital. The more important thing is to choose one style and stick with it.

Font Familiarity

There are several standard fonts that are widely available on most devices, such as the previously mentioned Times New Roman or Arial. Using any of these well-known fonts will foster familiarity in a reader. Fonts that are similar to them will do the same. Again, the reason is so the reader doesn’t have to waste any time thinking about what they’re looking at. Characters need to be easy to distinguish. There is a time and place for a fancy script or a bubbly font but limiting it to non-essential information is good accessibility practice. When you want to show something clearly, simplicity is best.

In addition, avoid using highly specialized characters on the web unless they’re appearing in a graphic. People with impaired vision often use screen readers to browse the internet. These special characters often look like a font change to a sighted user, but they cause screen readers trouble. If you’d like to hear how screen readers interpret some special characters, please check out this video from Twitter.

If you found this useful, check out my previous blog about accessibility in design!

3 Social Media Metrics That Do Not Matter

Often we find ourselves judging people based on the number of followers an account has or the size of their email list. However, these things don’t really matter. They are called “vanity metrics” because they do not help you make better business and marketing decisions.

What are Vanity Metrics?

Vanity metrics are metrics that look amazing on paper. They can tell a really positive story. But — and this is a big one — they don’t do anything to advance your business goals. 

#1 Followers

The number of followers you have on a given social media platform does not matter. Follower counts can be easily manipulated. Have you ever been approached by one of those Instagram accounts that offers x number of followers for a fee? 

Those followers will never engage with your page or convert to a paying customer or client. Therefore, they are useless

Instead, look at the number of people who have reached out to you because of your platforms. Or how many of your ideal clients you have managed to reach. These metrics are far more likely to give you direction with your content than solely looking at follower counts. 

#2 Likes

Likes are another vanity metric that cannot really tell you how your content is performing. Measuring likes with other forms of engagement like saves or comments may be helpful, but honestly, lots of likes just make us feel popular. They don’t do much to meet our business goals.

#3 Subscribers

Subscribers are like followers. They don’t matter unless they will convert and/or are your ideal client. Although it feels nice to have a lot of attention, it is far better to have a small number of incredibly loyal and active fans than a large number on a spreadsheet.

So what metrics should you track?

These depend on your business and social media goals. If you are trying to engage your current community, comments are awesome. If you are trying to spread awareness, retweets and shares are your best friends. 

Trying to create a one-size-fits-all plan for marketing or metrics won’t work because each company and each ideal client/customer is different.

If you are interested in developing your brand and social media strategy, send us an email at cmprteam@clairemckinneypr.com.

For more social media tips, check out these articles: 

Skyrocket Your Organic Reach on Instagram with Video

3 Quick Tips for Using Instagram for your Personal Brand

A Roadmap to Using Bookstagram for Online Book Publicity

Marketing Fiction: Beyond Book Reviews

At the recent Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) I gave a presentation on identifying major and minor themes that can help with marketing fiction.   Let’s face it.   For indie authors, book reviews in any traditional sense are difficult to come by.  We all want to end up in the New York Times, but there are over 1 million books published every year and only 52 New York Times Book Reviews.  Even with a publicist who knows people at the Times who make editorial decisions, by the numbers it looks like a long haul to getting that review in the paper.

The Problem with “Book” Marketing

Many writers think of their books as singular products, referring to them as my “novel”, “mystery series”, “fantasy”, “romance”, “coming-of-age novel”, etc.  I have been working on marketing fiction for twenty-five years and I can honestly tell you that trying to sell your book to a reviewer based on, “this is a great new novel” is not going to cut it in our competitive world.

One Solution to Fiction Promotion Challenges

There are many strategies you can use, like digital pr, but the one I suggest first is dissecting your book to go beyond book reviews. In my presentation, I described the process using a book we all know, The Great Gatsby.  I analyzed it through a more comprehensive lens–digging deep into any promotional angle I could find. Here is an outline of the process you can try on your book(s).

The Deep Dive for Marketing Fiction

  1. Open a blank document or take a clean sheet of paper. Write the title and genre of your book at the top.
  2. Make two columns, one called “book assets” and the other “my assets”
  3. In the “book assets” column write a list of the locations in your book; any topics that it covers (in Gatsby the list included Prohibition and Class Wars); and anything particularly interesting about the characters.
  4. In the “my assets” column make a list of things that pertain to you and your brand, such as where you live and where you grew up.  Add items like what you do beyond writing; any parts of the book based on your own personal experience; why you wrote what you wrote; and any additional interests, hobbies, or skills that you have.
  5. Now make a list at the bottom of the page of where you can imagine finding interest in the items in either list.  Is there a story in the media that relates to your topics?  In addition to being a novel, does you book include anything of interest to health care, psychology, or business? If your book is a mystery, note mystery outlets that you would target online and in print.
  6. Finally, pretend you are a reporter and write some mock headlines based on your list of angles and outlets.  The Great Gatsby in today’s world might inspire a headline like “Class Divides in New Novel Mirror the Culture of Celebrity and Billionaires vs. Everyone Else”; or “New Novel Explores Whether Class is Defined by your Market Value or by Knowledge and Manners.”

Thank You English Teachers

Remember English Class?  Yup, this process has some similarities.  The exercise will help you think about marketing fiction in a broader way.  It will also help enhance the number of opportunities it will have in the media.  Marketing fiction is always a challenge.  The first step to getting more press and attention is to see how many latent themes and topics your book can address.

For information on marketing fiction, see Case Studies #3

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