Posts Taged marketing

Social Media Strategy: How to Manage Multiple Pages

small business social media

For small to medium sized businesses, launching and managing a social media campaign can be challenging. The budget often doesn’t allow for outside support or hiring an extra team member to help the marketing team (if the business even has a marketing team). Executing great social media strategy also takes a lot of time, effort, and a long-term investment – a lot to add to someone’s already very full plate! Still, social media can be a boon for smaller businesses; making the effort should be a priority in any marketing strategy.

When businesses have more than one location, or specific products that may warrant their own separate social media pages, things can get even more complicated. Not only are there multiple social media platforms to contend with, there are multiple pages that need specific content fine-tuned for individual audiences. However, it is a beast that can be managed. Here are four tips for keeping your multi-channel, multi-account social media campaigns on track.

Utilize a content calendar

social media strategyTo excel at social media, a business will need to have a long-term idea of their goals and strategy. Scrambling to come up with a post at 3 PM every afternoon is not only stressful, it’s not a great use of your time. Sure, you’ll have content up, but it might not be targeted or well thought out. Your social media campaigns should tie into your overall marketing strategy.  One of the easiest ways to streamline your social media process is by using a content calendar. Using Google Docs, DropBox, or good ol’ fashioned Excel, create a monthly social media calendar. At the end of each month, spend some time going over your marketing plans for the next month, and create social media content that ties in to those goals. Depending on current events and business happenings, the calendar may need to change – so keep things flexible.

Use a scheduling tool

Once you have your carefully drafted and thought out social media calendar in hand, starting your week each Monday will be a lot easier. To make it even better: utilize a social media scheduling tool to schedule post in bulk for the week ahead.

There are several paid and (mostly) free options for that business can take advantage of. On the most basic end, some platforms like Facebook offer built in schedulers. There are some outside platforms like Hootsuite that offer a free option. There also several platforms available for monthly subscriptions that offer a wealth of analytics and info that may be difficult to access otherwise. Spend some time at the beginning of the week getting everything scheduled across all your pages and channels. This doesn’t get you off the hook the rest of the week, however; you’ll need to check in daily to make sure things are posting and check in on audience feedback.

Tweak content for each platform

For each platform, and each page within that platform (such as pages for different business locations), you’ll want to finetune the content. It’s totally acceptable to use the same content across your channels – your newest blog post, for example – but the actual post will need tweaked for each audience. Also, consider that some of your Facebook audience may follow you on other channels too – they probably won’t want to see the same exact post three times in a row.

When planning your content for the month, consider posting the same piece to different channels on different days and times. Be sure to use analytics tools to get to know your audience on each channel, and understand what will fit them best.

social analytics

Use free, built-in analytics

While there are platforms that offer in-depth analytics tools for social media, a good portion of small businesses won’t have the budget available for it. Thankfully, you can glean a wealth of information from several channels built in analytics tools.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram all offer at least basic insights tools. We have a more in-depth POV on this topic, which you can check out here. When you’re managing multiple profiles, analytics become even more important – your audience will be able to tell if you’re just posting the same thing across the board. Multiple business pages offer the opportunity to get personal and make authentic connections with smaller, more targeted audiences.

 

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a strategy for one page or 10 is that social media is about the long game. There will be trial and error, experiments, and a few risks needed when you first start out. As your audience builds organically over time, you’ll gain their trust and approval – something that can’t and won’t happen overnight.

Celebrity Endorsements: The Risk for Brands

celebrity endsorement

Celebrity endorsements have been used by brands since the 1760s, when a savvy pottery and chinaware company used endorsements from royalty to promote their products.  In more recent decades, celebrity endorsement has become a staple for many large brands, like Michael Jordan’s partnership with Nike. As social media has grown into a part of everyday life, the celebrity endorsement has adapted along with the digital world. With this shift has come new ways for brands and the influencers they partner with to connect with their audiences – and new ways for their influencers to crash, burn, and create a crisis.

Social media is all about personal connections, and it allows celebrities a chance to offer a sneak peek into their real life (or at least the sanitized version of their real life). It helps their fans relate to them in ways that regular advertising can’t, and creates a golden opportunity for brands. Brand endorsements, when presented through the lens of a celebrity’s personal, authentic recommendation on their personal social media channels can be a powerful form of marketing. But with this power comes the risk for it to fail on an epic scale when transparency and authenticity aren’t a key focus.

Fyre Festival’s lack of transparency

In April, the “luxurious” Fyre Festival made history – but not for the reasons they’d hoped. The “festival” basically didn’t even exist, and the exceptional music, food, and fun that their celebrity brand influencers promised were nowhere to be found. As the word spread, the organizers weren’t only faced with the obvious issue of not delivering the promised product – all but one of their hired influencers conveniently forgot to mention that their social media posts were sponsored.

While a brand and influencer may worry that tagging their sponsored post as the ad it is could harm the audience’s perception, the opposite is often true. Social media users don’t like to be lied to, and are still receptive to influencer content even when it’s clearly called out. Though the festival organize claim to be trying again next year, the damage caused by the lack of transparency by their influencers is already done – and the pending lawsuits for FTC violations aren’t helping matters.

“Bow Wow’s” lack of authenticity

While rapper Shad Moss (also known as Lil Bow Wow) wasn’t promoting a brand when he posted on Instagram about the flight he was taking to NYC via private jet, brands he’s worked with in the past could be at risk thanks to the reveal that he was lying.

Moss was indeed on a flight to NYC, but it wasn’t via private jet. Unfortunately for him, a fan of his noticed him on the flight, and noticed the post he’d made – and called him out on Snapchat.

The internet soon piled on to make fun of Moss’ photo with the #BowWowChallenge. There might not be a ton of animosity toward the rapper for fudging the truth, but it’s hurt his credibility, and could hurt the brands he partners with in the future.

The solution: micro-influencers

So, how can brands still get the benefit of social media influence, and collapsing on a large scale when their celebrity partner slips up? There’s three keys to consider:

  • Insist on transparency. All sponsored content must be tagged as such, no exceptions.
  • Carefully vet the influencers chosen – does their history match your brand values?
  • Consider micro-influencers instead.

Micro-influencers don’t have the millions of followers that some celebrities do, but this could actually be a plus for brands. They’re able to connect with their fans even more closely, and are likely to hold transparency and authenticity in high regard because of this. Money isn’t the only thing they’re concerned about – they also vet the brands the work with to ensure that the partnership is a match for their image too. And, if they do have an unfortunate flub, it’s probably not going to be on the same scale that an A or B list celebrity would. Brands should consider their influencers close partners, and require that they uphold the brand’s values – and influencers should do the same for the companies they work with.

Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses

influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a priority for brands in 2017. In 2016, influencers emerged as a powerhouse for brands looking to reach millennials in the personalized, authentic way that they desire. Celebrity endorsements have always been a tool for marketers with the right budget, but influencer marketing takes this concept to the next level. It combines star power with the more casual endorsement you get from word of mouth – social media influencers are typically much more connected to and familiar with their fans than A-list celebrities are. While some social media stars command big pay checks from the huge brands they work with, there are thousands of micro-influencers that are more easily accessible to small businesses with limited budgets.

Influencers with millions of followers aren’t right for every brand. Micro-influencers in specific industries are not only more affordable for smaller businesses, they’re more likely to reach the people who will become actual customers. Micro-influencers are often cheaper for businesses to work with, and may even do partnerships for free products or services. In exchange, they can offer direct, personal connections with consumers businesses may struggle to reach efficiently otherwise. Their reviews of products are much more authentic than major influencers with millions of followers that they definitely can’t connect with individually.

How to Find Micro-Influencers

You can find influencers who would be a great fit for your business in a variety of ways, ranging from free options to purchasing tools built for this purpose.

  • Start with your own followers: Take a look through your own fans on social media. For followers who have a few thousand followers of their own, and are already fans of your business, a partnership with your brand could be a natural choice for them.
  • Connect with local bloggers: Google is your friend here – search for popular local bloggers in your area. If their content is a fit, check out how they prefer to connect.
  • Hashtags: On Instagram and Twitter, browse popular hashtags related to your brand’s products. Chances are, some of the top tweets come from influencers in these topics.
  • Buy a tool to help: Buy a subscription to a service like Klear to get a more in-depth look at who holds influence in your industry.

 

What to Expect

When working with influencers, it’s important to pursue an authentic, mutually beneficial relationship. Treat influencers with respect, and they’ll be more open to working with you. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Research how the influencer prefers to be contacted, and respect what types of partnerships they’re willing to do.
  • Do your due diligence and research the influencer’s history and past brand sponsorships. This can help avoid a crisis for your brand later.
  • Plan to build a relationship over time. Influencers may not be open to a partnership right away, even if you’re willing to pay. They need to get to know your business first, and understand if it works with their brand.
  • Make sure all posts from your influencer clearly state their relationship to your brand – transparency pays off with your audience and avoids legal issues.
  • Ideally, plan for a long-term relationship and not a one-off sponsorship.

Dark Social: Digital Word of Mouth

Cellars

“Dark social” isn’t as malicious as it sounds. The term was coined by Alexis Madrigal in an article for The Atlantic in 2012 to describe the sharing of information in emails and instant messengers – sharing that existed long before social media platforms were popular. Social media ROI is getting easier to measure, but dark social is more difficult. And it accounts for a huge portion of the referrals your website is probably getting.

When looking through your Google Analytics, you probably notice a large chunk of the referrals are listed in the “direct traffic” category. These hits can come from a variety of behind-the-scenes sources; a link shared through text, email, native mobile apps (like Facebook’s), messengers, Slack messages, Snapchat, and someone using a secure HTTPS browser all fall in this bucket. It’s word of mouth on the internet, but not the kind you can track easily through Facebook Insights.

The Struggle for Social Media Strategists

While it’s great to have so many avenues for your content to be shared, dark social adds to the struggle for social media teams in proving the value of what they do. If you can’t specifically show that these direct traffic hits are from people copying and sharing a link you put on Facebook, it’s tough to show true ROI. Social media marketers are under a lot of pressure to show concrete metrics, which is sometimes next to impossible. There’s no real way to say “yes, all of these direct traffic hits were from text messages sent in this market.”

texting

Dark social can also make optimizing content tough. Without knowing how the content is being shared specifically, marketers can’t design it for those platforms. These shares are likely hitting demographics that may not be on other social channels, like the 55 and older age group. When you can’t pin down the audience and the channel, it’s difficult to be strategic.

Shining the Light on Dark Social

So, what can PR pros and marketers do about dark social? Here’s a few things to focus on to get a better handle on this type of sharing:

  • Use Google Analytics’ customer URL builder. This can help with proving that your social sharing is driving dark social communication, and which posts are bringing in the most referrals. No matter where the link is clicked from, you’ll be able to see that it was that specific link you created for your latest Facebook post that brought visitors to the website.

 

google analytics

  • Invest in a tool made for dark social tracking, like st by Radium One.
  • Make shareable content a priority. Even when it’s hard to track, dark social is still sharing of your content. Make sure your social posts are shareable – find the emotional connection, keep text short, and include visuals whenever possible. You might not be able to optimize it for a Snapchat message, but you can still focus on creating content that resonates with your audience, no matter where they are.

Let it go: don’t worry about control on social media

brand voice social media

Brands put a lot of work into fine tuning their voice, and can understandably be protective of their image. Companies want their audience to talk about them a certain way, and marketing, advertising, and public relations all work together in the hopes of achieving positive buzz and brand loyalty. However, brands often have trouble getting their social media platforms to “play nice” and stay in control. The conversation on social media is tough to control, but brands should embrace this fact rather than fear it.

Social media channels don’t function the same way an advertising piece does, where the content is tightly controlled and distributed. You can put in hours of work into a piece of content, just to have it turn into an unflattering, viral meme. Social media moves quickly, and brands can struggle to keep up. However, companies shouldn’t bail on social media entirely or resort to a corporate, sterile voice on these platforms. Instead, brands should jump into the deep end with both feet and utilize social media platforms for what they are – customer experience tools, not a brand megaphone.

Plan, and then let it go

Social media still requires planning and knowing your brand voice inside and out before starting to post. Companies should make sure their brand voice and image is unified across all the channels they’ll be using, and have a set of guidelines in place for tone and style for whoever will be posting on their behalf. Know what your brand would say and would never dream of saying before beginning. Make sure posts are edited before going live.

Once the content is out there, it’s in the hands of your audience. Brands must be ready to “let it go” to a certain extent after this point, as the engagement that happens may not be what you expect. Whatever the response is, take it and run with it rather than try to change it. It’s bad practice to delete negative comments; instead, use them as a customer service opportunity (or a humor opportunity, if it’s right for your brand and the complaint being made). Engage with the positive responses too, and shine a spotlight on the users responding. In some cases, you can even take advantage of user generated content in response to what you post. It might not be the quality or style your marketing department would have chosen, but it makes an authentic connection with your audience, something an ad rarely does.

Choose transparency over control

The days of “no comment” in response to a crisis are long gone thanks to social media. Social media users have no tolerance for slow responses, no response, or robotic corporate responses. When a brand crisis arises, it will be talked about on social media. No matter how appealing it can be to state “no response” or stay quiet until you’ve had ample time to come up with a polished statement, this is rarely the right choice.

While having a few days to think and present a response spears to give a company the chance to get a handle on the situation, they’re losing valuable time with an audience that is already discussing it. Transparency is far more important than an illusion of control on social media. Sometimes it’s even fine for a company to say “we’re aware, and we’re taking some time to collect our thoughts” rather than avoid posting for a few days and then attempt to look like they were always in control. Honesty with your audience (and even admitting you were blindsided) can go a long way with social media users.

Social media is a PR tool, not a marketing one

Marketing and public relations departments must work together to achieve success for the brand, and social media is no different. However, given the inherent lack of control with social media, PR professionals are better positioned to drive these efforts. Public relations is a two-way conversation, as is social media. Marketing is a brand megaphone; great in certain circumstances, but not really a fit for social media. Social media users have an extremely low tolerance for ads, and have high expectations for authentic communication from the brands they follow.

Public relations should work with marketing to ensure that the brand voice on social media is up to par, but marketing should be comfortable with PR leading social and communicating with their audience without several rounds of content approval. Conversations on social happen at the speed of light, and the key to success on these channels is listening and jumping in quickly. When a brand remembers that social is more about their audience than their company, they’ll be able to stay on top of conversations while getting comfortable with letting go of control. The rewards of social media can be numerous when brands let go – for both companies and their audience.

How Brands Can Use Nostalgia

nostalgia marketing

It’s become almost an annual joke that Americans love fall so much. Mid-summer, plenty of your Facebook friends were probably posting about how much they’re looking forward to pumpkin patches, apple picking, and the sacred pumpkin spice latte. The autumn-love is at a fever pitch now that October is here, but just why do we all love this time of year so much? It’s the nostalgia.

Autumn and winter are seasons steeped in tradition and memories for many Americans. We gather at homecoming football games, share gifts with our loved ones at the several holidays scattered throughout the season, and reflect on what the past year has brought us. It’s a time where we remember the simpler periods of our lives, and spend quality time with those closest to us. Nostalgia makes people happy. Millennials in particular love nostalgia as shown by the popularity of Pokemon Go and the #tbt (Throwback Thursday) hashtag.

Brands can get to know their audience better through nostalgic marketing, and in turn help their customer base better understand their company culture. Here’s three ways your brand can tap into nostalgia in your communications this fall:

#TBT – Get Personal

One of the most popular hashtags across all social media platforms, #TBT is an easy way to connect with users. Don’t limit yourself to just posting stock pictures of a six pack of Surge; use real life photos from your staff! Baby photos, embarrassing prom pictures, and 90’s Nerf battles at a family reunion are all prime for sharing in the hashtag. You can also share photos from your company’s beginnings and memories including past office photos, last year’s office bake-off, and previous logo designs.

nostalgic marketing

Good Stories Weren’t Created by Digital Platforms

Storytelling is as old as life itself. Though digital platforms allow us to tell stories in new ways, these tools certainly didn’t create storytelling. Take a step back and reflect on how you used to hear stories when you were young. What made your grandfather’s war stories so riveting? How did you feel when listening to a scary story around a campfire with your fellow troop members? The tales you remember from your childhood and the storytellers that shared them can help illuminate the key parts of a good story. Use these components in your marketing pieces. You can even do a campaign around nostalgic stories directly, as long as it makes sense for your brand.

What’s Old in PR is New Again

Public relations is a constantly changing field, and brands are likely using very different tactics than they were 20 years ago. However, some of those “old” ideas can be worth dusting off and implementing in the digital sphere. We have lots of tools to communicate with users and engage with them individually, and yet, many users still feel that brands’ digital presences is highly impersonal. Consider how you would have reached individuals in your audience pre-internet. While you probably aren’t going to have the time to start knocking on doors and meeting the people who make up your consumer base, you can still reach out through digital media with the same enthusiasm. With every communication, remember there are real people on the other side of the screen. Look for ways to reach out to your social media audience individually – utilize live streaming to allow them to ask questions that you can answer by name, go the extra mile with a customer service complaint on Twitter and give them something they wouldn’t expect, or crowd source photos from your audience to make your new social media banner.

Round Up: How Businesses are Using Pokemon Go

pokemon go

Earlier this summer, Pokémon Go hysteria swept the globe. Fueled by nostalgia and one of the first widespread iterations of augmented reality, the app became the most downloaded app in a first week ever. Groups of Pokémon trainers traversing the streets, phone in hand, became a common sight in many cities, and many families found a fun activity together that involved exercise and heading outdoors.

Businesses quickly took notice of amazing marketing opportunity. While the app as taken a downturn in usage due to some botched updates, there’s still a great chance for businesses to capitalize at little to no cost, and have some fun in the process. In the future, Pokémon Go will likely have opportunities for businesses to pay to become a PokeStop or a Gym location, making it even easier to draw in players. Until then, here are some examples of businesses using the app in unique ways to boost sales and their reputation that you can steal ideas from.

A new way to explore the Denver Zoo

Soon after the app’s release, the Denver Zoo jumped at the chance to use it to boost attendance during their typically slow July weekends. Armed with $380 of in-game lures (a tool in the app that draws Pokémon to the area it’s dropped in for a set period of time), the zoo’s marketing team offered a $5 admission to guests who showed the app at the ticket window, and then spread the lures throughout their grounds. During the July 22-24 weekend, the zoo brought in $58,000 in revenue from Pokémon Go players and beat attendance projections by 5,000 people. Guests enjoyed catching the virtual creatures while also learning about the real life animals that live at the zoo and the organization’s conservation efforts.

mobile game apps

Board the Pokémon Express in Cheyenne, Wyoming

After a staff member of Visit Cheyenne noticed that there were around 40 PokeStops along the city’s historic trolley route, the tourism organization knew they’d hit a goldmine. They created a Pokémon Express Tour for two days in July. Participants paid $10 to take a slightly altered version of the trolley’s route, which included extended stops at particularly active PokeStops. The tours sold out quickly, and the organization offered four more in August and one in September, citing the great marketing opportunity for local businesses along the route.

A Michigan bank offers a social media contest and gift cards

Monroe Bank and Trust in Michigan put together a Facebook contest that nearly any business with a store front could copy. The bank announced in a post that they’d be dropping lures at select ATM and bank locations. When participants found the location and caught a Pokémon there, they could take a picture and share it on the bank’s page for a chance to win a variety of gift cards.

Doing good while catching Pokémon

There have been several great stories about Pokémon Go players finding ways to use their hobby to do good while they level up. An animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana teamed up with local players to walk their adoptable dogs while they played the game. A local news crew filmed a segment on the story which was then featured nationwide and provided a huge boost to the shelter’s Facebook page. Players have also organized groups to pick up trash in their cities while playing and simultaneously used other apps while on the hunt for Pokémon that donate to a selected charity based on how many steps you walk. Nonprofits have a unique chance to connect with local players by offering them the ability to play the game while volunteering.

T-Mobile offers free data for Pokemon Go trainers

T-Mobile jumped on the Pokémon Go bandwagon early with offers for their customers that included free, unlimited data for the app for a year and free Lyft rides to popular PokeStops. While the unlimited data portion of this plan is controversial due to how it may or may not set a good net neutrality precedent, T-Mobile is an example of how nearly any type of business can participate and connect with Pokémon Trainers.

What’s Next

For cities heading into winter, it’s possible that the app will see another down turn in usage thanks to players staying inside out of the weather for a few months. Still, since participating is relatively low cost for businesses, it’s still worthwhile to consider how your organization can use the app in your marketing. Inc. has a handy guide for jumping in – take advantage of the opportunity to connect with your customers authentically and try something new!

3 Takeaways from Digital Summit Portland 2016

digital summit portland content marketing

This past week, I was able to attend the inaugural Digital Summit Portland at the Portland Art Museum. A meeting of the minds among social media, SEO, content marketing, and UX experts, the conference provided a wealth of information and networking opportunities. Speakers from companies like Pinterest, Microsoft, Facebook, and Uber gave me some inspiration for our clients’ programs. The conference provided a guide on where the digital realm is going in the next few years. For the first year, the conference was very successful, and I’m looking forward to what next year’s event will bring.

Three key takeaways I found during the Summit:

Jump on the Pokemon GO Bandwagon Now

Pokemon GO hasn’t been live even a month yet, and it’s already taking over the digital world. Every single talk I went to mentioned the augmented reality (AR) game. Plenty of conference goers were catching the creatures on their cell phones in between sessions. By day 2 of the conference, the app had surpassed Twitter in daily active users on Android.

Virtual reality and AR are tools we already know will affect communications in the next decade, and Pokemon GO is one of the first wide-spread iterations of this technology. Because the game encourages players to visit real life locations that have been marked as “PokeStops” to collect in game items, savvy businesses have already taken advantage of PokeStops located at or near their stores. Users of any kind can purchase “lures” in the game to drop at PokeStops that will attract Pokemon to the site for a set period of time. If a PokeStop is near a business, the store can purchase lures and drop them during business hours to attract people hoping to catch the Pokemon drawn to the lure. This is a great idea for places like coffee shops and cafes. They come for the Pokemon, they stay for a coffee break.

Businesses will also soon be able to pay to be a Sponsored PokeStop if there’s not one near their location.

Content Marketing is just Marketing

Content marketing sounds like a “buzzy” phrase, but according to the experts at Digital Summit Portland, it’s really just marketing. Content marketing has been around for quite some time, and simply focuses on creating personalized experiences for the individuals in your customer base. Based on the discussions at the conference, content marketing is here to stay and will likely be considered a foundational piece of any marketing program in the next few years.

Influencers aren’t defined by follower number

Influencer marketing is a trendy communications topic right now. Social media lifestyle gurus constantly promoting the latest detox tea, work out gear, and makeup. Brands of all kinds want to see their products on the biggest influencers’ pages. However, according to a few panels I sat in on at Digital Summit, the largest, difficult to land influencers aren’t necessarily the best. Follower number doesn’t make you an expert. The key is to know what influencers exist in your arena, and how you can leverage them to talk to your audience. Whether they have 12,000 followers or 1,200 doesn’t matter. Those 1,200 might be key members of your audience you want to reach, and there may be only 500 members of your target audience in that 12,000.

Were you at Digital Summit last week? I’d love to chat with you about what your highlights were!

2016 Technology Trends: The Year of Apps, Video Ads and Virtual Reality

2016 technology trends

According to insight from Forbes, 2016 technology trends will bring tried-and-true developments with a twist, while novel tech advances take center stage.

Video advertising will increase their presence on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and even search engines. In fact, Google is planning to bring them to search results. According to experts in 2016 technology trends, video ads will start showing up in even more unexpected places because of Google’s recent purchase of YouTube, .

The app market will experience its own version of an overhaul. As movement continues toward replacing traditional “mobile-friendly” websites with mobile-optimized, intuitive and accessible apps, 2016 will bring an upsurge of app innovation, reports Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers. Business owners are becoming more savvy about the utility of apps for customer acquisition and retention. In other words, the phrase, “There’s an app for that” will begin to lose its irony in 2016.

2016 technology trends

Perhaps most exciting for some, virtual reality (VR) will shift from science fiction fodder to actual reality. DeMers reports: “Oculus Rift, arguably the most hyped VR device, is set to release in the first quarter of 2016. Oculus Rift and other VR devices will introduce an entire new medium of online advertising, with integration to popular social media platforms, video channels, and even forms of direct messaging.” Experts also predict groundbreaking application development for video games and general use.

What 2016 technology trend trend are you most excited about?

Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising – How are They Different?

City Advertising

Rolling into my senior year of college, I have been asked the same question a number of times throughout my studies as an undergraduate. It has been asked by my family, friends, acquaintances, professors and anyone I’ve struck up a conversation with. It is the question I was hesitant to answer until two years ago.

“So, what are you studying?”

There are multiple answers to this question that I have come up with each time it has been asked thus far. Mass Communication, Public Relations (PR), Marketing and just simply Communications. All of these answers are different. What is my major? Mass Communication. What am I really studying? Public Relations. What do people usually answer when I say this? “Oh, so like, marketing and advertising, right?”

Well, not exactly.

The Difference

Anyone studying communications will know the difference between the three, but a large majority of people are still confused by what PR, marketing and advertising professionals really do.

It is common for most to lump public relations, marketing and advertising together. Although they are similar, they are not all the same. Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines Public Relations as: “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” How does this differ from marketing and advertising?

The easiest way to look at it is that marketing is a large umbrella in which public relations and advertising fall under. Paid advertising and PR efforts such as social media are both marketing strategies. However, public relations centers on the public by planning and implementing an organization’s efforts to influence or change public policy, whereas marketing is more specific and looks to add value to customers, clients, and partners before looking to influence and educate the public.

According to Entrepreneur.com, Advertising aims to “call the public’s attention to your business, usually for the purpose of selling products or services, through the use of various forms of media, such as print or broadcast notices.” You can remember it by thinking advertising is paid media and public relations is earned media. Many companies argue that they do not need public relations efforts because they are happy with their advertising agency’s efforts. Michael Levine, author of the book, Guerilla P.R notes: “Depending on how you measure and monitor, an article it is between 10 times and 100 times more valuable than an advertisement.” 

All three fields are unique and often work together but it is important to understand that they are different. For those seeking out a career in PR – don’t be afraid to correct people when they assume all three terms are married. If you’re interested in the profession, check out these blogs and click on the helpful chart included in this post.

PR, Marketing and Advertising Differences