Setting Up Social Media Accounts

If setting up your social media accounts for business has you flummoxed, P&A has some solid tips for your success.

My mother always had THE correct way of doing things … Her exact quote: “There’s a way to do things … the right way, the wrong way and MY way.” Admittedly, it made us all roll our eyes in exasperation, but much of the time she was ingenious at discovering the best ways to complete everyday tasks efficiently. (Except that time I found her on the roof with the leaf blower, cleaning the gutters.) She knew how to zero in on the need and then find a way to fill it without too much fuss. And that is exactly what you will need to do when you are setting up your social media accounts: Remember the needs of your target audience and then work to fill those.

Setting up your social media accounts properly is the most important thing to do BEFORE publishing or promoting content on a regular basis. Without this important key, you probably won’t reach your target market or make much headway in gaining real followers or attention. So, keeping in mind “the Jeano’s” guidance, let’s dive into the basics …

Looks are everything

When it comes to social media, remember that you are competing with many other accounts for consumer attention. This means your account needs to be visually appealing to grab the attention of your target market. In fact, think in-depth about your target market base you are trying to reach. Use the research that you have done regarding the demographic you are trying to reach and really put it to use here. Once you begin posting content, you will want things to flow well, so establishing a theme throughout your entire platform will make a huge difference.

Additionally, when you are setting up images, Instagram brand highlights, Facebook banners and the like, make sure you are using high resolution photos that will not look grainy. You will also need to scale images to fit the dimensions of the space to be filled. For instance, an Instagram profile pic will need to be squared and then centered, while a Facebook banner will need to be a rectangular picture or graphic. Websites like Canva offer many varying sizes and types of images that you can create so you can appear professional no matter your platform. Grainy, pixelated images are not appealing and may even make your brand seem inauthentic.

Messaging matters

With the aesthetics handled, you need to focus on helping your social platform make SENSE. Your profile says a lot to your consumer about who you are and what you do. However, you don’t have many words in which to get your message across. You can’t just ramble on or overwhelm your consumer with boring facts. You need a focused message tailored to speak directly to your target market.

Remember, you will be doing a lot of talking in your content. Your profile should be a backbone, a core of beliefs so that all your content references it. The more concise and consistent your message, the more your target market can understand you for who you are. And guess what? Consumers don’t like to be kept in the dark or confused about a brand. To get their loyalty, you need to lay your cards on the table.

Link up

When it comes down to it, your social media platforms should act as a lead generation and or customer/client engagement. That means that you want to make it easy for your audience to get there. Make sure to add links, locations, and other important contact information as needed. Most social platforms allow you to only share one link, which is why we recommend using other helpful websites like LinkTr.ee to give your target market some options.

Your social media platforms are prime real estate when it comes to getting in front of your target audience. Don’t waste it! Ensure your own success by taking the time to set up your accounts properly. Your target market will thank you because THEY want to see your business succeed too!

Now, stay off the roof with your leaf blower and put these tips to practice

Plan to Your Heart’s Content

Now that you know your goals, target audience, competition and have budgeted for your social media marketing, it is time to plan content. Come on, this is the fun part! While you may think you know your way around Instagram or Facebook, it is important to keep a few things in mind when you are sitting down to plan out your content for the day, week, month or even year.

Death of a salesman

One mistake we see in the world of social is when clients become too overzealous in sharing promotions. If you are constantly trying to sell to your customers, they may turn away from your account. Afterall, social media is just that: social. How would you like it if you were relaxing at a friend’s party, chatting with everyone while some guy tried to sell you things constantly? Don’t be “a party pooper.” Even though you should share those promos in hopes that your target market will take the bait, you will need to put forth some other fun posts as well.

Everyone just wants to have fun

Balance, as much as you can, your promotional posts with something entertaining. For example, many companies like to jump in on social trends such as #MotivationalMondays in which you can post inspirational quotes that help followers get ready for the week ahead. You can also use this platform to share other people’s content from accounts you follow. Social media is a network of businesses and individuals from all over the world, so you really don’t need to try to reinvent the wheel. If someone in your industry posts something amazing, share it with your followers and give the creator the cred.

Tell your target market what’s up

As much as you post entertaining tidbits, try to come up with some informative content for your target market. These can be pieces that speak to your entire industry or directly to your business. Social media has become a great place for people to learn more about the things they are passionate about. If you are a chiropractor who is selling your service to customer, give them some wisdom about how they can use chiropractic care to their benefit, what they may not know about the practice, and how it integrates itself with both eastern and western medicine. You would try to speak to your customers who are health-minded by providing educational and informational content.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

In the world of social, you want to make sure you are posting high quality content, even if it is only showing up in customer feeds 3 times a week, versus daily posts that don’t mean anything. Furthermore, you will need to be realistic about what you are capable of. If you are just starting out, it may be too much to try to run a YouTube channel or get Instagram Reels going every day. Instead, aim on increasing followers and feeling your way around the landscape of social media before you take on more projects. Again, this is where hiring a professional social team comes into play, as they already know their way around, how to spread out content, what to post and can be instrumental in helping you to reach your target market effectively with the least effort on your part.

Content is the bread and butter of social media and what you have been working toward sharing throughout this whole series of social media tips. That doesn’t mean we are done yet, though. We still have many more tips coming your way next month so be on the lookout, especially if you want to know even more about content creation and management!

Figure Out the Money, Honey

Budget is a big word in business. As a business owner or manager, you have a budget for everything. Although many companies hope to save money on marketing by using social media, what they don’t understand is that you will need to allocate some money to make this growing host of platforms worthwhile to your company.

Spend the money to hire the pros

We have seen it time and time again: companies are unwilling to hire social media professionals to do the work and, instead, hope to rely on their own internal employees to market their brand via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikToc, etc. We understand that it may be all in the name of saving some money, but because social media has become such an effective form of marketing, and maybe THE most effective way to reach certain demographics, it goes without saying that you need to be on point with your message and branding.

So, while Rachel in accounting may have a few Instagram followers and know her way around Facebook, or Brittany-your-niece is under 20 and can navigate TikTok, it’s unlikely they understand the intricacies of each social platform as well as the importance of branding and communicating appropriately to reach your desired target audience. Thus, setting aside a special budget solely for the purpose of reaching your business goals revolving around social media, and even hiring professionals to help you along the way, will lead to much more growth and ultimately driving sales in the long run.

How much money is too much?

So, the next question you may be asking yourself is how much exactly you should be expecting to spend on your social media marketing. The first rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t spend more on your social media budget than necessary. You don’t want to drown your earnings by throwing money at campaigns across all platforms. Instead, you will need to focus on what will be beneficial to you in reaching the SMART goals you have set.

According to WebStrategies, companies tend to spend about 5-15% of their annual revenue on marketing, with about 35-45% of the marketing budget dedicated to digital activities. And, just to bring you through the maze of money further, approximately 15-25% of the digital marketing budget will need to be allocated to social media. These numbers are of course changeable and may be tailored to the target market you are trying to reach. For instance, if you are going for Millennials, who spend a good portion of time on social media, your budget will be at the higher end.

You may think that this budget is just how much you spend on boosting ads and creating campaigns. However, your social media budget will need to include other important behind the scenes work, such as strategy development, project management, design, graphics, photography and video, copywriting and tracking the results. Yes, you could use someone internal to your company, but you may not be getting as much bang for your buck as if you are hiring a professional team who knows their way around the ever-changing landscape of social media (insert shameless plug for Pickett & Associates here). Alternatively (another shameless plug), P&A offers a “DIY Digital Marketing Kit” for a one-time charge of $3500 that includes:

  • A template for a strategic marketing plan with suggested tactics
  • 12-month (industry specific) content calendar, including suggested posts and relevant “celebration” days
  • Four branded social media “meme” templates
  • Social media checklist
  • Branded email template
  • An SEO Cheat Sheet
  • 12 hours of support/training

Regardless of the size, age or client served by your business, social media has emerged as one of the best ways to access customers. By forming a budget specific to this highly profitable and growing part of the marketing scene, you will be able to create a marketing strategy that will help you to reach your goals.

Social Media Strategy: Check Out the Competition

Social media strategy includes researching the competition. Frequently we ask clients, “who is your competition?” Sometimes they say, “No one offers what we do.” That may or may not be the case.

You need to put on your “open-minded consumer” hat and take a dive into what organizations in your space are doing to market themselves.

Back in the “old days,” we might hire “secret shoppers” to get a feel for the customer experience. However, in today’s access to the digital footprint of virtually every business makes this unnecessary. It’s fairly simple to check out various social organic strategies that are working for other companies and really begin to understand your target market in an authentic way.

What is your competitor’s focus?

You may need to do some detective work to figure out what your competitors are focusing on when it comes to social media. The great thing about an Instagram account is that, by viewing a profile, you can see an overall layout of every post in a grid format. This makes it easy to see various trends, posts and even colors and images your competitors are putting to use. TikTok offers a similar layout, but Twitter and Facebook take a little more scrolling time.

What are they saying?

Use this easy Instagram grid layout or other social media outlets to understand more deeply what messaging is used in your shared target market. Check out their posts, comments, hashtags, followers and also what accounts they are following.

Who is their target audience? No, really.

It would seem that your competitor is labeled as such because you are going after the same target audience. However, there can be variations. What if you own a company that assists seniors in their own homes and target those elder residents directly? A competitor offers the same services, but is targeting their message to those seniors who are being discharged from rehabilitation settings. At that point your messaging and platforms begin to distinguish themselves; while there is crossover with similar audiences (seniors and their adult children), there is also messaging for a discharge planner. The nuances are crucial in your social post messaging and where they are posted.

Find the loopholes

Taking the example above, if you notice that your competitor is really gearing their message to helping those who are already at home and are looking for senior companion services, you may want to realign your social strategy to catch another piece of the target market who is left out by your competitor. Make their oversights your gains by really being in touch with the market as well as what others in your industry are putting out there on social media.

Furthermore, if you notice that an entire outlet, such as Facebook or Instagram, is being ignored by your competitor, use that to you advantage, especially if your target market has a presence on that platform. Make your message align with users on that platform and drive traffic to your website so consumers can get a look at what you have to offer. This requires some nuance and just the right amount of social media genius, something we are always trying to develop here at P&A.

There is a lot more to overseeing a successful social media marketing strategy than most people think. It takes understanding your target market while having a grasp on what your competition is currently putting forth. Don’t be intimidated, though, the professionals at P&A have your back to help set a strategy or take the whole thing off your plate!

Social Media Platforms for Your Brand

Platforms … the word that, fairly quickly, went from meaning an awesome pair of shoes to a way to access the wide world of internet. Choosing a relevant social media platform, much unlike choosing the correct shoes, requires you to understand exactly where your target audience is spending the majority of their scrolling time.

HOW your target audience is using social media and WHAT platforms they are populating are inextricably linked to one another. In our last blog, we talked about understanding the how portion of their behavior. Now we can get into understanding which. Again, this depends a lot on age and which generation you are targeting, if you are seeking just one. You will also need to take into account a range of factors when deciding which social media platforms you should focus on. The importance lies in making sure you put all your eggs in the basket that draws in your target audience. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Facebook…it’s almost for everyone

Facebook continues to offer the largest gathering of online eyeballs, with a whopping 2.91 billion active users monthly. Most users are in the 24-35 age group and spend an average of 30 minutes scrolling. Boomers are also likely to use this platform the most. However, Facebook’s growth isn’t flourishing as it once was, as younger users continue to shift their attention elsewhere.

Instagram isn’t just for family photos

If you are targeting Millennials and Gen Z, Instagram is a great bet since it is heavily populated by the 18-35 age group. Within three years, this platform has doubled their active monthly users to reach a massive 2 billion. Instagram offers option to shop directly from its platform, which puts businesses right in front of their target audience at just the right time. Users of this platform likely gravitate toward fun, real, and creative content from brands.

Twitter talk

Twitter is indeed in use, but it doesn’t get nearly the traffic of Facebook and Instagram, with only about 211 million active users daily. Twitter users tend to be highly educated and high-earning; it has become known as a place to find breaking news and discuss events. Many thought leaders gravitate toward Twitter and their loyal fans follow suit.

TikTok has a whole new meaning in 2022

TikTok is revered by the 10-19-year-olds who, believe it or not, have incredible purchasing power. Trendy adults, such as the hip ladies over at P&A, also flock to the Tok. It is a great platform for those who have content that would be enjoyable in a video format. TikTok is a rapidly growing beast where most of the users are female and spend about an hour scrolling per day. That means that you get a lot of exposure when using this platform, but beware … the users are less likely to go for ads and much fonder of authentic, honest, and even humorous content.

LinkedIn for your business

Surprisingly, Millennials dominate this platform of 810 million monthly users. Most of those scrolling LinkedIn are high earning professionals both domestic and international. This platform is less about the fun and more about lead generation, job searches, establishing yourself as a subject matter expert and connecting with others in your industry.

Other great platforms that you may want to check out are SnapChat, YouTube and Pinterest. Again, you will need to be wise to your target audience so that you understand where they are spending their online time. Many of our clients choose three to four outlets and focus on tailoring the message to meet each audience. For example, a post for Instagram may not be appropriate for LinkedIn and so on. In time you may find that the patterns of your target audience change, in which case you will need to rethink where expending your time and effort. It is all an ever-changing landscape, where the internet runs the show … and platform shoes are no longer the coolest statement (but they will make a comeback).

 

Keep Your Swag in the Bag

We’re all a little giddy about the return to in-person events. Pickett & Associates is busy refreshing tradeshow-bound collateral, pop-up banners and branded “swag” … or maybe you call it “tchotchkes.” We’ve also got a few clients with events coming up that we’re helping organize and promote, and that, too, calls for branded materials.

Of course, we’re in “red carpet” season for the entertainment industry, and  the coveted “goodie bags” for both participating and attending celebrities remain a standard. Despite bad behavior … this year’s Academy Award nominees received, according to NBC and E! News:

  • A three-night stay in Scotland’s Turin Castle, worth $50,000, inspired by Denzel Washington being nominated for Best Actor in The Tragedy of Macbeth (butler service *is* included, thanks for checking).
  • A four-night stay at the Golden Door resort in California, worth $15,000.
  • A small plot of land in Scotland, along with the title Lord or Lady of Glencoe.
  • A $12,000 liposuction procedure from Thomas Su, MD, called “Celebrity Arms.”
  • $10,000 of “treatments and rejuvenation procedures” from Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD.
  • A life coaching session with Kayote Joseph, worth $1,200.
  • Popcorn.
  • $25,000 in home renovations from Maison Construction in L.A.

I can’t make this stuff up. In the “gross” category, once upon a time UGG sent swag bags, including their furry boots, to the celebrity friends of Phillip Seymour Huffman, hoping they would wear them to his funeral in a cold and windy New York City. While associating your brand with a celebrity or influencer is a great way to engage your audience, today’s “influencer marketing” makes this a bit of a different (pricey and hard to navigate) venture.

Marketing Swag

Nonetheless, for years organizations have employed the “swag” tactic to get traditional media buzz.

I have always felt a tangible item representing an organization was a valuable marketing tactic. Then I learned something valuable from a travel editor of a national magazine. She shared her tales of “swag bags” … or what a public relations/marketing professional would think of as simply sending product samples. Except the largess of the samples was bordering ridiculous. Examples: A huge case of frozen bakery goods, multiple monogrammed items from various spas and resorts hoping for a visit and a good review, and the usual run of logo-ed coolers, mugs, and travel bags. “Really,” she said, “why on earth would I want four coasters and a spa robe emblazoned with your logo?”

So, what do they do with all those goodies? They all go into a closet, confided the editor. And at the holidays, the closet provides the office “white elephant party” with a wide variety of gifts. Yes, they draw numbers and get to pick stuff – aka some poor marketing person’s well-meaning product samples— out of the closet.

Strategic Swag

So, unless you really want to provide entertainment for an editorial staff or have your items go ignored (which is reportedly what happens to most of the goods in the aforementioned Academy Award swag), think strategically before you place an order for the latest, greatest promotional item or decide to send anything randomly to current customers, potential clients or the media.

What does that look like? Ask yourself these four questions before loading stuff into a box and calling the FedEx guy.

  1. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you saying “thank you?” People love a simple, handwritten note these days … no need to send them something they don’t want. Are you trying to attract a new client? If they have no connection to you, why would they want something with your logo? Do you desire media coverage? Sending along well-written information describing your product, service or organization, a link to your website and asking if they’d like samples of your product is perceived as a more reasonable approach.
  2. Did You Ask Permission? Most important when sending product samples to the media. A “food drop” to media outlets is a common practice around special events or restaurant openings. It can garner great chatter and mentions … but do call ahead to make delivery arrangements. Many reporters are not allowed to accept such freebies.
  3. Do you have a specific recipient in mind? When ordering promotional items, do you have a specific purpose or event? Are they for a trade show or health fair? In that case, promotional items are a good way to be remembered – as long as it’s not the same tired item that everyone else is giving away. Avoid the “marked down” items and go for the unique and innovative. And if you are sending a product sample, for heaven’s sake, send to an actual (and appropriate) recipient and not just a general delivery.
  4. Does it represent your brand? Does the promotional item or product sample represent the very best your company can offer? And how will this item transport? The only thing worse than sending someone an unsolicited product sample or promotional item is sending a broken or tainted product sample or promotional item.

In conclusion, product samples and promotional items can be an awesome way to build brand awareness and create a buzz about your company. But it can also be a huge waste of time and effort. Until you have a clear strategy as outlined above, keep your swag in the bag!

Engaging Your Target Social Media Audience

Today’s social media audience is wiser than ever. Most consumers know the difference between authenticity and an ad. They understand if a business is just trying to sell them something within the first few seconds of seeing it or actually trying to establish a relationship. Today’s customers are looking for high quality experiences and interactions with the brands they love. They want great customer service, clever and entertaining campaigns, and they don’t have a lot of time to waste. You need to be spot on if you want to catch the attention of your target audience.

Walk a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes

If you have followed along with this series, you now have the tools to set SMART goals for your business, measure your success and find your target audience. Now comes the part most businesses think of as the start of a great strategy: understanding your target audience. When it comes to touting an impressive social media marketing strategy, the simple act of engaging the target audience requires some knowledge and nuance, which is what you will develop during this phase.

Before you reach your target audience, you must find them. Different audiences engage with the plethora of social media platforms in different ways. Younger users will generally gravitate toward SnapChat, Instagram and TikTok. Middle aged users tend toward Facebook and Instagram. Does anyone use Twitter anymore? And what about Linked In … important for B2B, but is that all? We will dive deeper into specific social media platforms next week.

For now, let’s talk about HOW your target audience uses social media

Demographics weigh in heavily in terms of where your audience is “playing” on social media. It is as if the internet has created more and more differences between consumers who may have been born just a few years apart. It’s an unfortunate phenomenon for parents and businesses alike.

Boomers (born between 1956-1963)

This generation, now mostly known as grandma and grandpa, are surprisingly savvy when it comes to tech. They not only keep in touch with family using social media platforms, but they also pursue purchases this way. They spend much less time, however, following influencers or seeking out the latest trends. After all, they were the original trendsetters! If you are targeting this population, you will need to direct them to your website, as they are more likely to purchase this way or through TV.

Gen X (born between 1964-1982) and Millennials (born between 1983-1996)

Both of these generations have remarkably similar usage across social media platforms. They are active in every way, keeping in touch with family, following the latest trends (although not quite as much as the newest generation), reading stories and following content they enjoy from family, celebrities, and athletes. They may be worried they spend too much, which makes sense since many of the people in these generations are now parents, trying to stay financially responsible while running a household. Finding a deal while scrolling may appeal to them more than others.

Gen Z (born between 1997-2003)

This generation was the first to be brought up in our modern digital age, with social media available from childhood. They are more likely to use these platforms to make new contacts, follow new stories, keep in touch with family, make purchases and catch the latest trends from an influencer, celebrity or gamer they like. They are less likely to click on an ad just for the sake of it, maybe because they have street smarts that translate into internet savvy. That said, they are comfortable making purchases directly from social media or your website.

Keep in mind that social media usage will also vary depending on their sex, job, lifestyle and more. You will need to dig deep into your target audience to see how they are using social media based on these factors as well. Put yourself in their shoes and walk around for a while. Do some detective work on your own social media page by setting up and tracking analytics. All this prep work requires so much research, we know, but believe us when we say that it makes a huge difference between a social media campaign that is a bust versus one that is a huge success!

 

Market Your Brand with Instagram Stories, Reels

Why are Instagram stories and reels important to your business marketing?

Instagram is booming with 2.9 billion visits per month. If you are a business, big or small, that is a whole bunch of visibility. When you combine these stats with the fact that video is an increasingly popular form of marketing amongst consumers, you have the perfect reason to try out those Instagram stories and reels just waiting for you on your homepage.

Why video?

An Instagram story is a vertical series of pictures or videos that disappear after 24 hours unless users choose to feature it at the top of their profile as a highlight. Consumers love a clever add, but stories provide them with something even more: a moving, living picture of your company. It is entertaining, dynamic and attention grabbing. Not only that, when your consumers watch a story reel, they are spending more time with your brand than they would if they simply scrolled past your static post. Brands capitalize on this feature to share with their target audience more about their products and services as well as other information related to their industry.

How do I dive in?

There are multitudes of Instagram story tutorials on the web, and most are free. We will let you dive into those on your own, while we take this blog time to focus more on what content to include in order to have a successful story campaign. As with any marketing strategy, knowing your goals and target audience are a solid place to start before heading into the realm of content. Once you have those figured out, next comes the best part: time to get creative.

Answer and ask questions

One fun way to engage your audience on Insta is to answer their questions about your product, ask new questions, or introduce a poll or quiz. This is also a great way for you to get to know your consumers with some well thought-out market research capabilities built right into your social media. Pretty genius right? Consumers these days seek out brands that not only provide a product or service they feel excited about, but also ones that will listen. Take your customer feedback on social media seriously, even if you present it in the form of a fun quiz or poll.

Promote

Whether you are launching a new product or have an upcoming event, you can use Instagram stories to promote interest from your target audience. Talk about your new product, have an unboxing video, include a countdown feature, and give some teasers so users get excited right along with you. This, combined with static posts, is a great way to grow engagement with your company’s new projects.

Takeovers

Have a coworker, influencer, customer, staff member or other account take over your stories for a day. Provide some fun for users and prove that your product is hot while you are at it. By having someone else take over, you will also create new content, kind of like a breath of fresh air for your followers.

Go live!

One fun part of engaging with Instagram stories on your company’s social media page is that you can go live and offer consumers a glimpse into your brand. How to videos, tutorials, etc. can make a big splash in numbers for your follower engagement. Going live is a great way to engage customers immediately and directly in the moment. Users will be able to see your live stream as an Instagram story if they miss the chance IRL.

If you are planning to get these ideas rolling, then make sure to also follow these tips:

  • Use hashtags
  • Stay authentic to yourself and your brand
  • Stay on top of new features as they become available
  • Use Insta highlights on your main page to provide more content to customers

Sometimes, it can be difficult to try something new or foreign, but once you get the hang of incorporating Insta Stories into your social media marketing strategy you will be glad you did. They can provide a wealth of opportunities for followers to interact with your brand, stimulating awareness of your business across this thriving social media platform.

Your Target Audience is the Bullseye of Your Marketing Strategy

How do you identify your target audience? “What does my customer/client look like?” should be the first question you ask as you zero in on your bullseye target audience.

It’s the P&A “22 in 22” social media tip No. 3! Once you have determined your goals and figured out how you would like to measure your progress, it is time to reach some real people. By that, we mean to skip out on buying fake Instagram followers and focus on reaching your target audience. These are the consumers who will interact with your brand to help you reach your SMART goals.

This may sound simple, but it can be a complex thing to wade through the field of customers out there who are ready and raring to eat up all that you have to offer. This blog isn’t about how to reach your target audience either (we will save that for next time), but instead how you figure out who your target audience is. It is an important step that is often missed by companies who launch into their social media strategies with gusto, wanting to cast as wide of a net as possible.

Who am I targeting?

A target audience is a group of people defined by certain demographics and behaviors. Understanding the target audience specific to your brand can help you to focus on crafting your unique message and branding to suit this population of people. For example, if you are selling specialty equipment for the aging population, you probably don’t want to target someone who is in their 20s and just moved out of their parent’s house.

You can start figuring out your target audience by brainstorming your ideal customer, getting as specific as possible about gender, age, education, type of work, income level, where they live, whether they have children and what their aspirations are as well as what they like to do in their free time. From there, you can begin to look for your ideal customer online. Which Facebook pages do they gravitate towards? What are their social media scrolling habits? Are they more likely to engage with posts involving humor or a sale? Who do they aspire to be like or identify with?

If you already have followers who you feel are part of your target audience, you can send an email survey campaign to get more information about their social media preferences as well as what drives them to purchase a product. This research will go a long way in making sure you are not casting too wide of a net, just hoping to grab the right people. Instead, you will be strategically planning your social media so that you know you are.

You can sell to everyone

An important idea to keep in mind is that you are simply looking for a target audience so that you can tailor your content, messaging and other parts of your social media strategy specifically toward those who will become customers. This will streamline all that you do relative to your social media marketing strategy. It doesn’t, however, mean that you can’t sell to those outside of your target audience. In fact, anyone who wants to can (and is more than welcome) to interact with your brand, right?

Marketing bullseye

Finding your ideal target audience is vital to the success of your social media marketing campaign, no matter your brand or business. Afterall, there is no point in having a huge number of followers if none of them will end up interacting with your brand with the intention of purchasing your product or service and helping you to achieve those SMART goals you have created.

Now, get to work brainstorming about your ideal customer, and we will meet back here next time to talk about how to reach this consumer in a way that will be impactful and create movement for your business. As a shameless plug, Pickett & Associates has a proven process for drilling down to identify your target audience. For more information, feel free to contact us!

The Power of Public Relations

While the power of public relations and the role played by the traditional media has shifted considerably in the last decade, PR still remains a useful and relevant tool for strategic communications.

When “old Miss Pat” ventured into marketing and public relations in 2005, it followed years spent as a reporter, editor and publisher. I’d wanted to write since I could hold a pencil. Journalism fulfilled that passion as well as my natural inclination for general nosiness … but it was not exactly a great career for a single lady with two teenage kids.

After 20-plus years covering city council meetings and elections, writing home and garden features, profiling local, regional and national folks of note and lastly covering Hamilton County businesses, I joined a local communications firm in 2005. I shall forever be grateful to them for taking a chance on this reporter. There were a couple of us there at the time, and we (sort of) laughingly referred to ourselves as “recovering journalists.”

While I wasn’t in the know on communication strategy (yet), I did know what made a good “pitch” and news release. And thus began a career that has served me well with a modicum of success.

Fast forward to 2022. Eleven years after launching my own “PR firm,” I’m now more inclined to refer to Pickett and Associates as a “strategic communications agency.” No longer is landing a segment on a news cast or capturing some column inches in the local paper our ultimate goal. As I came to learn during my preparation for my APR credential, those are “outputs.” As victorious as they might feel, what value do they really bring to a business or organization? Today our clients are looking for measured outcomes … whether that be driving sales and leads or building brand recognition. And there are so many ways to do that now in the digital sphere – social media, websites, targeting emails, etc. – that news releases are often overlooked.

Pickett and Associates continues to utilize the PR tactics of pitching stories to media outlets and writing and sending news releases as an important part of an overall communication strategy. First off, let’s define the difference between a “pitch” and a “news release.”

Pitch vs. News Release

A “pitch” is a personalized note to a reporter/editor/producer that relates a timely, interesting, or unique idea for an article/on-air segment that includes a business or organization. There are several nuances in a successful approach (including thinking holistically about what the audience might like to see and not just about your business), but the first and most important rule of thumb is to send this information to the correct person. Sending a pitch about technology to an education reporter will most likely result in the use of the “delete” button.

A news release is a fully drafted document – typically featuring the “who, what, when, where, why & how” in the lede paragraph. In general, a news release includes the most pertinent information about something important at an organization, ideally in 400 words or less; remove the fluff and pare down. A news release should also include a contact for more information and an “about us boilerplate.”

Ideally, a link to an electronic press kit/media room that resides on your website with company photos, logo, and general background information is included in every news release. (We will explore the elements of great online media rooms later this year.) If not, providing a link to a Google Drive or Dropbox with that downloadable content makes everyone’s life easier. Reporters/editors are looking for something visual to go along with a story. Sending a photo or video link increases the chances of the news release being used. Do NOT send an attachment. Ever. Likewise, do NOT send a PDF of the news release. Please. Begging you on behalf of editors everywhere.

While a pitch may also include a news release for background information purposes, they are not interchangeable and serve different purposes.

Pitches are used specifically to get a story placed that includes your business or organization. Period. (Pro tip No. 1: It is okay to email the recipient after a few days and ask if you can provide any additional information. This gives the journalist the opportunity to respond that they received it, are considering it (or not) and ask any questions. Pro tip No. 2: Do NOT call a reporter and asked if they received your email.)

When to Use a News Release

News releases should not be sent with the expectation that they will actually generate news; they rarely do (unless you are a large company, organization, municipality or public figure). News releases work when:

  • They are sent to trade/specialty media that are more likely to pick up industry news than a general circulation media outlet.
  • They are used for optimized content on a company website providing an SEO boost.
  • They are used as part of a social media content strategy.
  • They are used as communication to organizational stakeholders.
  • They display subject matter expertise.

Popular topics for news releases include:

  • Personnel changes and promotions
  • Company milestones
  • New products and/or services
  • Sharing news of awards or other accolades
  • Addressing an issue or company crisis
  • Sharing the results of a survey or other pertinent data generated by or about an organization
  • Announcing an upcoming event

A news release is different from drafting an article or column for a media outlet (a great tactic, but a different style of writing) or writing a blog. We’ll take a deeper dive into those topics in the future. In the meantime, consider using news releases as part of your overall communication strategy in 2022. And if you need help with the strategy or tactics like news releases, shoot me an email. I’d love to chat about how P&A can support your organization!