A Night at the (Pub) Club

It’s that time of the year again here in Boston. The bed bugs that were nestled from their perches during Allston Christmas have all now re-settled into new homes for another year of sleepy affairs, the leaves are crisping to a burnt sienna just along the edges and the Pub Club of New England meets again for its first official event of the season, a night on Integrated Media: What Does It Really Mean?

To answer that question, Don Martelli, vice president, Schneider Associates (@BigGuyD) moderated a panel of speakers, which included Barbara Scott, associate dean of marketing and communications at Northeastern University (@bscott929), Linda McDonough, managing director, DTZ (@LindaMicD), Peter Stringer, vice president of digital media, Boston Celtics (@Peterstringer) and Frank Irizarry, assistant professor of public relations at Suffolk University (@firizarry). So whilst we savored pizza and sipped Sprites, here’s what we learned from our insightful panel:

Visuals

Visuals spark an emotional connection. People don’t want to read anymore. If you can’t say it in less than 140 characters, then #forget it.

Analytics/Digital

Digital media emerged from the intersection of traditional journalism and the Internet. Analytics were born when people started asking: how do we get people to take action?

In media, we’re seeing more and more analytics, because every single day we have to prove what’s working.

Storytelling

Storytelling is pushed as invaluable in the communications world – hard. But that’s because it’s essential to connecting. Podcasts are evidence of the importance of storytelling, resurging over recent years because they’re an effective way to reach the audience that you’re trying to engage.

Storytelling may be a buzzword in PR, but it’s true: brands have to tell compelling and enchanting tales. The Globe is not going to publish your brand all the time (unless you’re our neighbors, The Celtics!). So you have to be the editor-in-chief of your own brand, always guiding your story on owned channels.

The disturbance of traditional media arrived when brands began owning channels, such as websites and blogs, where companies could post their own news and content before the newspapers could. Then Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms emerged, taking it to the next step with fans and followers posting their own news and content before even the brand’s editorial team could.

So while brands and fans alike have disrupted media and are telling stories, we all still need to think about our audience. For PR pros, when pitching, it’s important to think like a news producer. This means pitching across all platforms, packaging the whole story with an integrated mindset from the start, including thinking of video and social. This is the content that makes money for news outlets as their audiences consume visual, emotional tidbits, so pitching like a pro entails planning like a publisher.

Social

And in the world of integrated media, social has to be part of those plans. When looking at social’s value, reach is more important than engagement because likes and comments are quick. A like is a one second engagement and most comments are spam, so engagement rates don’t really have much value in terms of conversion. Sharing is the Holy Grail – it’s the beginning of lead generation when followers share a brand’s content with their own family and friends – content that they actually care about.

With social’s constantly changing algorithms, marketers need to understand the importance of paid social. Don’t get caught up on how many likes you have, because you’re going to end up paying for views whether users have liked your page or not. For example, on Facebook, the Celtics used to be able to hit 20 percent of their followers organically with any given post. Then Facebook changed its algorithms. Now organic viewership hits about five to 10 percent. The time has come to be ready to pay up for reach.

But you might still be safe from handing over big bucks for social; because it’s a misconception that social is always needed in the strategy to reach your target. Think about who your audience is. For example, your demographic may not be on SnapChat, may be on Instagram, probably on Facebook, but definitely reading the newspaper and listening to the radio. Organic social may, in these cases, simply be a way to add value to your brand when users look up information on your company, rather than a direct way to funnel targets to conversion. Social presence adds both credibility and interaction points with potential customers simply by existing for them to find. That’s why traditional media cannot be replaced by social, yet also cannot replace social.  It has to be integrated – they have to complement each other.

So, all in all, what do publicity professionals need to know about integrated media?

Don’t silo yourself. Don’t think of yourself as playing an isolated role across print, digital, video, advertising, analytics, content or social – the days of distinction are gone, and unlike the soon-to-be fallen autumn leaves, they‘re not coming back.

Pub Club 1

Photo caption: Google has spoken, New Englanders. It’s fall. And The Pub Club shares what you need to know about integrated media as the autumnal PR season kicks off.

This post was contributed by March Communications’ Assistant Account Executive Marina Askari.