As content and media have proliferated at exponential rates in the 21st century, the competition for consumers’ attention has grown fiercer. Not only do brands have to work harder to stand out in the minds of their audiences, audiences are also more skeptical of advertising and astute at recognizing or even blocking corporate advertising efforts. In the face of ever greater competition for views, clicks and impressions, companies and marketers have been forced to become more creative in their efforts to earn and retain viewers’ attention.
Working in PR and marketing, I have noticed a few trends of increasingly creative efforts companies use to reach their target markets and have leveraged some of these to great success for our clients. We already know how important social media is in the digital age, but to create a powerful, fully-integrated marketing plan, it is important to look at all the ways to make your brand stand out in a crowded market. I’ve highlighted three of these trends below to help you create a diverse and resilient marketing strategy.
Audience aversion to advertisement has made public relations and editorial coverage more important than ever—and we’re not just saying that! Editorial coverage serves as a powerful third-party recommendation for your brand, much more so than any branded or sponsored content. Whether you rely on an in-house PR team, an agency (hey there!) or your personal connections with local journalists, creating intriguing pitches is a great way to stretch your marketing dollars even further. Not only will you save money by diverting from advertising methods with dubious measures of success, but the coverage you do land will be a much more powerful endorsement. This isn’t to say you should eschew advertising all together; rather, consider diverting some of that budget towards non-advertorial promotion.
Pro-tip: Make it personal
When pitching your story, make sure to create a compelling story that is relevant to the journalist. Know the writer or broadcaster’s work so you don’t pitch something irrelevant to their beat. It may be the digital age, but old fashioned human relationships are still the best way to ensure the success of your PR efforts. And be sure to check out East River head-honcho Katie Shaffer’s tips for securing media coverage!
If you do decide to move forward with traditional advertising efforts, consider the ways in which some top brands are restructuring their approach. Cross promotions have emerged as a way for companies to reduce their overhead, leverage complementary brands and maximize exposure. Take this television ad for Avengers: Infinity War, in which the film partnered with the automobile brand Infinity and the home assistant Amazon Echo.
Notice the natural pairing of brands: the naming pair of Infinity War and Infinity cars works smoothly, while the Amazon Echo’s integration with the luxury automobile promotes a new feature. By working together on this ad, each companies’ costs are reduced, and they benefit from the association with each other.
You don’t have to own the rights to the Marvel Universe for this approach to be successful. The key lies in working with complementary brands.
Pro-tip: Share the load
Own an architecture firm? Consider teaming up with a real estate brokerage that sells your homes to promote a recent project and sale. Marketing a vacation destination? Reach out to an airline that services your destination or produce an advertisement in collaboration with a hotel chain in the region.
Other companies have gone even further, opting to generate their own content to complement their advertisements and editorial content. A recent commercial for Apple’s Home Pod is a great example. Apple leveraged their connections with musicians to produce a new song from up-and-coming hip hop artist, Anderson .Paak, with a visually-striking music video featuring pop star FKA Twigs. Apple managed to create an advertisement that people would actually seek out and want to watch.
Again, don’t feel like this is a realm accessible to only the big players. The key here is to play to the strengths of your brand and to get creative. An increasing number of retail and restaurant locations have embraced this mentality with clever signage and catchy décor that is just begging to be photographed and shared on social media. Other ideas include drone shoots and video shoots to create intriguing YouTube videos or podcasts to share industry insights.
Pro-tip: Start with a blog
A company blog is a good place to start testing content and shaping your brand voice. It’s also beneficial for creating SEO that will help drive traffic to your website, gives you the flexibility to share longer form messaging without having to rethink your website, explore topics and establish thought leadership. Most websites already come with a blog template or you can utilize sites like Medium.
The lesson here is that marketing and PR require more effort and creativity today than ever before. Standing out is essential! Capitalize on these trends and experiment with others to find what works best for your brand. And whatever you do, the most important thing is to define your brand story and tell it in a genuine, compelling manner no matter the medium.
This post is part of an ongoing knowledge series from East River PR. Each of our team members have a unique skill-set and background that they bring each day to our work as we hone our craft. We’ve all gained from collaboration with our colleagues, our clients, and jobs we’ve had along the way, so we’d like to pay it forward here.
This week's contributing team member is Ryan. He is our Communications Coordinator, spinning words into pitches, stories, web copy and more in addition to putting on many hats that come his way. With a passion for people, travel and the outdoors, he’s not shy to venture outside of his comfort zone. Currently building skills in communications, business and project management with us at East River PR.