Sword and the Script

Content Marketing *is* PR

by Frank Strong

Content Marketing is PR

Some of the conclusions drawn from a recent study — The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process – are missing the mark from my perspective.  

One finding from the study:

A brand new in-lab study by Nielsen, commissioned by inPowered, shows that expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across product categories. More specifically, when measured against owned media (branded content) it showed that earned media is 80 percent more effective at the bottom-of-the-funnel or purchase consideration stage, 80 percent more effective at the middle-of-the-funnel or affinity stage, and 38 percent more effective at the top-of-the-funnel or familiarity stage.

Based on that data, the conclusion is: PR is more effective than content marketing. Read More…

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5 Good Reasons PR Pros Should Jump into an MBA

by Frank Strong
PR pros and MBA

There’s been some lackluster advice floating around the PR world of late regarding a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. It suggests, with caveats, that PR pros that get MBAs are bored or indecisive careerists that want to schmooze with the future business leaders of America. 

Such advice lacks perspective — the perspective of those who have actually done it — which counts for a lot in evaluating the pros and cons of anything.  I know a bunch of lawyers but it doesn’t make me an expert on law school.

In an MBA program you’ll grow personally and professionally. It’s one of the best investments a PR pro can make in themselves.  I am a PR pro with an MBA, so I’ll take the liberty to offer a different point of view to PR pros based on my experience.

Make no mistake, such a degree is directly related to our work too. If PR pros get knocked around for a list of character flaws, I’d suggest those boil down to these three recurring themes: a) PR pitches are bad b) PR has inability to speak the financial language of business and c) PR has a poor understanding of business.  

Do you have to have one to succeed?  No.  However, an MBA will dramatically increase the likelihood that those are characteristics that will not apply to you. It’ll improve the chances of success. Read More…

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Building, not Borrowing: What PR is Missing

by Frank Strong

PR lesson fad

A fad is something we already had. Content is no fad.

About a year ago I presented at a hat trick of speaking engagements in the PR industry. These ranged from national professional association – to a regional event produced by a trade publication – to a local event organized by industry peers. What struck me the most was the sociological difference – no two groups were even remotely alike.

These groups fell into what I thought was three broad categories:

a. The lost. This group primarily came from smaller shops – corporate and agency alike. They had no concept for the social web, content or digital marketing. This group literally didn’t know what they didn’t know.

b. The learners.  This group was mixed – people from all walks of life. They were open minded, fully cognizant the dynamics of PR had changed, knew they were behind and were present to catch up.  Every session was filled with people taking furious notes and asking good questions.  There was a sense of urgency in the air and the conference organizers did well to line up excellent sessions. Read More…

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PR: It is How We Discover Brands

by Frank Strong

PR branding

Source: GlobalWebIndex “Chart of the Day.”

Awareness, familiarity and trust are all essential elements of a brand that sells successfully.  It’s an evolution that begins but probably never ends, save for the termination of a brand.  It’s the latter that drives us down the road of analyzing whether or not PR facilitates a sales cycle.

The entry point however, should not be underestimated. The chances of a sales person closing a deal with a prospective customer that remarks, “Huh, I’ve never heard of your product before,” falls somewhere short of less than likely.

So how do we make customers aware of our brands?  The answer rests in PR. Read More…

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Why PR Should Embrace Content Marketing

by Frank Strong

Why PR Should Embrace Content Marketin

PR should embrace content marketing.

If there’s one trend that has reached a tipping point in PR — it is content marketing. Content marketing is a perfect blend of SEO and social media for the online marketing mix.  But for PR, there’s one other key point:  media and blogger relations.

Joe Pulizzi, who founded the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.”

He simplifies the definition in a subsequent paragraph by stating, “In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.”

Isn’t that also what bloggers and media strive to do?  Read More…

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PR Strategy: Paid Media Tactics for Earning Media

paid media for earned media


by Frank Strong

Advertising offers great message control but questionable credibility.  PR offers credibility though third party validation, but there are no message guarantees.  As an industry we love to look at these separately to compare and contrast, but a better value is looking at how they can work together.

Paid media can earn media.  It’s a point that’s stuck with me ever since a professor placed a controversial ad on overlay for an overhead projector long ago.

Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, uses this approach often.  My earliest recollection was during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal where he placed an ad looking for dirt on any Republican.

Flynt is, perhaps, an odd place to find a PR lesson, but I try to keep an eye out for marketing or PR in everything. His scheme got a lot of coverage and he’s since repeated this tactic time and again.

30-second chunks are often interesting and meaningful, so the ads are worth unpacking

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If Everyone Owns Social Media…

If Everyone Owns Social Media

Photo credit: Flickr

If everyone owns social media, then no one owns social media.

Ever work on a condominium committee? Everyone is an owner and little gets done.

Ownership is a strong word, especially for social tools, which are often credited with having a democratizing effect on the web.  However, using it successfully requires leadership and decisiveness.

Writing on the SHIFT blog, Chris Penn, classifies the question as silly. His answer?  Whoever can use it to help build your business, that’s who.

Penn’s thoughts mirror my own, though I’d further qualify social media as a role for the do-ers.  There’s a difference between those that talk and those that do.  Social media needs a champion to weave, both the tactics, and the teams together.

This question is old, it has its old critics and old champions.  It’s also new, with new research, that attracts view points from multiple angles.  But it never fails to unleash a firestorm of opinions that range from rants to disinterest. Read More…

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PR Acquisition Analysis: Market Opportunity in Raleigh-Durham

Big PR Firms Raleigh Durham

by Frank Strong

Warning:  this is a long post, but I’ve put a lot of research, thought and time into it; hope you find it useful. 

Sometimes to grow a business you’ve got to expand the boundaries.  That’s exactly what PR firms have been doing the last few years.

Just this week Richard Edelman embraced paid media — a smart move because the PR trend is moving in that direction.  I agree with him. Completely.  PR is not smoke and mirrors and it can be clearly defined.

Successful digital promotions strategies will incorporate a combination of both earned and paid but also owned and shared media tactics.

To those that are editing out PR from their titles, I’d advise caution, because this isn’t about PR looking more like marketing, instead, it’s about marketing looking more like PR.  Agree or not, surely we can find common ground in the fact that the changes are happening are in an effort to grow.  That’s why we are in business. Read More…

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Bridging the Social PR Network with the IRL Network

Bridging the Social PR Network with the IRL Networkby Frank Strong

In 2012, the number of people I first met on social networks and then met in real life (IRL) grew dramatically. One observation that strikes me is how many are located in my own stomping grounds — yet I might never have met them without social networking.

In 1999 or 2000, I remember reading a news article where the central argument was people were spending more time hunkered down at their computers and less time engaging their physical neighbors next door.  I don’t believe that’s true at all, and if this list is any indication, it’s one more data point disproving that thesis.

To be clear, there’s clearly much to be said about virtual networking on the social web.  In 2012, I had the chance to connect with some really fine people online.

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Most Read Posts on Sword and the Script 2012

Most Read Posts on Sword and the Script 2012by Frank Strong

Doing an analysis on the most read posts posts of the year on any given blog is a useful exercise in as so far as it tells us what information people consumed.  TheJackB might point out that posts on our most read posts tells us about our most popular posts but may not in fact tell us which posts are best.

He’s right and I’m sure of it because the most read posts are a puzzle. We have all the information we need to analyze — Google Analytics’ Adam Singer even did the work for us — and all we need to do it put it together.  Thanks to Malcom Gladwell, I can claim there is a distinction between a puzzle and a mystery.

A mystery is forward looking — we do not have any information — and we do not know for certain what will be our most read posts in 2013. We can make inferences and forecasts from our existing data — like a puzzle, where information exists but we just need to put it together — but the fact is no one knows what tomorrow will bring.  Not even the Mayans.

Thank you to all who read this blog, who take the time to offer thoughtful comments and who engage with me on social media. Cheers and hopes for much more in 2013.  Read More…

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