While the advantages of digital and social media brand promotion are considerable, such as costs savings, control over the customer relationship and real-time feedback, there are challenges to confront, such as having time or personnel to monitor the communications and being prepared to address setbacks quickly.
Today's PR and consumer outreach efforts differ from past in several aspects, according to Kahn. Companies can now deliver direct B2B or B2C communication without filtering the message through mainstream media, a common practice for automotive aftermarket companies for many years. The ability to contact audiences and potential customers directly has been supported and nurtured through the Internet and social media channels: digital newsletters; content posted to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.; company blogs and news pages; and search-engine optimized website content.
However, with these changes to the traditional forms of brand promotion and communication, a new set of challenges and opportunities has been revealed. While companies have advantages through direct communication, such as cost effectiveness, more control over the customer relationship with the brand, and real-time feedback to see if a message is resonating with the audience, there are plenty of new hurdles facing companies.
One of the main challenges with direct communication is that there is no filter between the company and the recipient. For example, Kahn points out, "If doing a promotion in-house, all content must be proofed, examined and approved by the parties involved." This can be an issue for companies that have a limited staff or for companies that only conduct any type of outreach when there is a new product to announce.
Kahn also advised companies that transparency and openness can be a double-edged sword. Companies that provide exceptional products or services will be rewarded, however, mistakes will be revealed in the "comments" section on social channels. Kahn emphasized that companies need to be prepared to handle setbacks quickly and decisively.
One of the final challenges pointed out by Kahn was the fact that monitoring your digital outreach and brand promotion is time intensive and requires constant attention. Not only do considerations need to be made about the type of message to send and through which channels, but dedicating time to monitoring the effectiveness of your message via open rates and click-through rates help you gradually build a broader avenue of communication.
"A big mistake that I see companies make is adding a few extra hours of digital PR responsibilities to an in-house salesperson's existing workload," explained Kahn.
A modern press release is more than a few sentences about your product and company and a photo. Kahn says that his company refers to the services that they provide as "content marketing," in that they provide everything a content producer needs to make a story. Description photos, links to the brand's website and social channels, videos, and search-engine optimized copy that is hyperbole-free, are all essential for modern PR success.
Here is a breakdown provided by Kahn of some of the elements that should be incorporated into a digital press release:
- Layout in HTML to maximize distribution and minimize messages sent to SPAM folders (custom HTML layouts that match the branding of your website are best, but templates are also available; popular services include MailChimp, Emma, Constant Contact)
- A catchy headline—tell the consumer or journalist what the release is about in a short, clever way.
- The subhead should flesh out the details about why they should read the release and care.
- Always have at least one thumbnail image of your subject at the top. Having images or video screen caps with a link "above the fold" so it appears in the Outlook or Entourage preview window increases open rates by up to 15%.
- Bullet points—many editors and bloggers are too busy and receive too much e-mail to read every release they get. Include a few bullets that summarize the features and benefits as succinctly as possible.