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Public Relations and Social Media: How the Digital Disruption is Shaping B2B Marketing Departments

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Public relations. Digital media. Digital relations. Social media. Content marketing. Marketing communications. Integrated communications.

These are a few of the phrases you hear and read about when an organization’s marketing department describes what it is they are either responsible for internally or what services an agency provides to its clients. It’s not meant to confuse anyone – rather it’s the most recent trending term or how one person defines outbound communications. At the end of the day, if you have been reading your #Digital, #Marketing or #PR Twitter feeds you know that all organizations are really trying to get to the heart of their decision makers and ultimately drive influence. Influence what, you ask? Follow back tomorrow for more on that…

As Stuart Elliot pointed out in a piece in the New York Times on Sunday:

Because of innovations like social media, the model has evolved from “trying to connect people with brands” to “trying to connect people to people to connect with brands.”

The article focused on PR giant Fleishman-Hillard’s addition of new services how it has expanded its core expertise to better serve its marketer clients as an integrated marketing services agency. Now this in itself is not news as there have been many boutiques, small and medium agencies making this move to provide more consistent and relevant exposure for their clients. The news here is that when the “big ones” move, people take notice.

What F-H is doing is reacting to the changing needs of organizations that look to its partner agencies (whether it is public relations, integrated marketing, advertising or social media) to stay in front of the evolving media landscape and all of the non-traditional publicity opportunities that are out there today. As a marketing professional that speaks with a number of digital experts, technologists, content marketers and general business executives on a regular basis, it has become crystal clear to what their need is – to be in front of the key discussions that are taking place in their respective markets. Sounds simple, right?

The digital disruption that has taken place within the B2B marketing landscape has created an opportunity and a problem for marketers and agencies. The opportunity is that there are endless discussions and threads generated every day to provide your POV and “influence” across a number of different mediums. The typical problem facing organizations and agencies is not only finding out who these outlets are, but where they end up (reach) and how are they receiving this content.

  • Who has the voice of an industry? Do they have the right network and will they help you expand your message and brand?
  • First, where are these discussions taking place? Second, where does it go from there? Will you engage with online media, your social networks or traditional media and let it die? You need to take the second, third and sometimes fourth steps to make sure that your themes, campaigns and discussions go somewhere and ultimately provide a return.
  • How is this content being digested? How can you make sure that the content and campaigns you’re creating are seeing the light of day? There are the traditional media placements that will work to reach some of your audiences. Others are visual and engage through video – do you have a nice mix of content that hits the written word, visual side and even social-sphere?

No matter what you call it, if you’re looking for consistent and quality returns on your marketing and PR campaigns in today’s real-time news cycle, these three points should be top of mind. It is no longer acceptable to wait for the planned feature or the upcoming report. With the amount of data and content out there today, B2B organizations need to be extremely knowledgeable about the key discussions taking place, their market trends and what their prospects are asking for. This means that marketers need to be more knowledgeable about customer needs than ever, proactive in their engagement with media (both traditional and digital) and diverse with their forms of communication (video, social, traditional and responses). Bring this all together and you can call it whatever you want. If you are getting people to think, share and respond to your campaigns and content they’ll be back for more.

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