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Why should we, as PR professionals, care what the Chief Marketing Officer within our organization is doing?

Once upon a time, PR and Marketing were very separate disciplines. Heck, back when many of us were in college, the PR department was housed with English, journalism or communications and marketing was across campus in the business department. We were studying a separate curriculum and performed separate functions within the business unit.

Enter social media and the upheaval begins. Social media is clearly an extension of PR. It’s us telling our story to our community. Oh, but wait. Now we can boost posts and target ads to be seen by specific demographics. Sounds a little more like advertising or marketing now, right? Or does it?  

We know our days in the PR world have changed drastically over the last ten years or so. We are more concerned than ever with measurement, showing ROI and monitoring the health of our brand. Some of our marketing counterparts have been completing these tasks a little longer than we have, but in different ways. It’s time for us all to come together for ultimate success.

At our June 12 PRSA Maryland Conference, Rise of Influencer Communications, we will focus on this topic in an afternoon session with Jeb Brown, chairman, Yes& Agency; Robert Sprague, president & CEO, Yes& Agency; A.J. Guenther, director, Public Relations, ConnellyWorks (a Yes& Agency); and, Jeffrey Davis, APRmanaging partner, Van Eperen, discussing the New Role of PR: Meeting the Needs of Today’s CMO.

If you want to be at the forefront of major changes coming our way, make plans to join us at the Sheraton Baltimore North June 12. Click here for the full program and registration details.

*Read more about Jeb, Robert, A.J. and Jeff as well as all our #PRSAMD18 presenters by clicking here

PR is no longer the red-headed stepchild of sales and marketing departments. Here’s why.

by Jessie Newburn, Atigro Digital Marketing

A decade ago, I accepted a job managing the PR function for an international software development company. I was pretty excited about the opportunity and knew the company had need for the PR function to play a bigger part in its overall game plan for greater brand awareness, increased engagement and, of course, the much-desired press coverage.

On my first day there, after being greeted by my boss, we walked toward my new office.

And walked. And walked. As we turned the final corner, there was a sign someone had taped up on the corridor: “Welcome to the Caves of (company name)”

And, indeed, it felt like a cave. This hallway was the farthest hallway from the center of the office, and it was the darkest with not a speck of natural light coming in.

My office was at the end of the end of the hallway and it was known for having a mysterious and bizarre intermittent smell that somehow seeped up through a crack in the cement floor.

To me, the placement of my office spoke to the company’s attitude about PR. And I’ve heard from many others over the years that public relations is often considered the red-headed stepchild to the all-important sales function, with marketing coming in after that and PR trailing far behind in importance.

Well, I think those days are over. And here’s why.

Where I sit now, inside an SEO-focused and performance-driven company, there’s a theme I hear told to clients again and again when they embark on improving their organic search engine rankings, and it’s this: You need more content. Not just any content. You need good content. To get page rankings (and leads), you need content that starts with well-researched strategic keyphrases. You need content that is compelling; content that addresses a potential client’s pain points; content that truly provides value.

And, who, my dear comrades in communications, who else is better prepared to serve up good content than PR firms and inhouse PR staff?

We know how to craft messages, how to reach people, how to get them to care because we understand that in order for people to care, the information provided (the content created) has to be valuable.

While SEO work has for many years been done in quiet cubicles, sprinkling magical pixie dust of keywords and meta content with a dash of occasional black-hat practices, those days are gone. G-O-N-E. You simply cannot get good SEO results nowadays without, at a bare minimum, good content. (And, of course, good content that is based on a keyword strategy and content that is then optimized for SEO, but that’s getting more into the weeds.)

So, take heart, my friends. Your role as a PR person, your profession, your position at the digital marketing table is not lessening as things become more complex and sophisticated. If anything, quite the opposite.Your role is becoming more prominent, more integral, more collaborative.

That’s how it looks from our side of the table. PR professionals are more important than ever for achieving performance-driven SEO.

Jessie Newburn manages BizDev and the Partner Program at Atigro Digital Marketing. She can be reached at 202-794-7276, or at jessie@atigro.com.

p.s. Atigro Digital Marketing is a top sponsor of the 2018 PRSA Maryland Conference on June 12. Be sure to stop by and say hi to Jessie while you’re there! 

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash


The Most Important C(X)onversation for Marketers

By Jeffrey Davis, APR

There’s a lot of buzz in marketing about customer experience (CX). A new Forrester report says that by 2022, CMOs will spend over $122 billion on investments in marketing technology and services, with an emphasis on building customer experiences and automating more processes.

Central to that investment is the customer, so the big question for marketers is: Have you held an in-depth conversation with them lately? Do you know how they are experiencing your brand or product?

Van Eperen recently concluded a detailed customer research project for the whiskey brand, Sagamore Spirit, that enabled marketers at the Baltimore distillery to know exactly what’s on the mind of today’s premium whiskey consumers. Some of the results were predictable, some surprising, while many responses prompted Sagamore to refine their PR and marketing strategies.

This wasn’t your typical research exercise held at the beginning of a campaign. Sagamore made a smart move by electing to check in with whiskey consumers a year after the company’s launch.

“It was fascinating,” said Rachel Fontana, Sagamore Spirit’s director of brand development, who recently shared an overview of the research with members of the PRSA Maryland chapter.

Van Eperen recruited consumers who fit Sagamore’s target demographic: consistent purchasers of premium whiskey, a higher income level, age (we targeted 25-35) as well as a series of psychographic screening questions to ensure we were speaking with people who tend to be leaders and who could influence others.

Among many insights, the team wanted to know: Where do they consume media? What do they value? And what are they looking for in a premium beverage brand? We also explored how they view their whiskey experience.

“We learned a ton from the research and it continues to inform what we do every day,” Fontana told the PRSA audience, which had just completed a distillery tour and product sampling.

Those insights, along with other information from the research, guided the Sagamore team as they tweaked their marketing approach to encourage their customers to share their own experiences with the brand.

Check out their Instagram account – @sagamorespirit – to see the beginning of a new emphasis on their customer experience, including ways to encourage enjoyment of the product in group settings vs. isolated moments. Sagamore is already emphasizing group-related events such as Distillers Dinners, Workout & Whiskey events and summertime Whiskey on the Waterfront free concerts, with live music and lawn games.

If it’s been a while since you talked to your customers in this way, maybe it’s time to check in. Your customers’ journeys are taking place whether you’re aware of them or not and the reality check on your original marketing strategy could be quite valuable.


–Industry News