These shops have shifted their focus from the mass media to smaller subsets of consumers—those with true influence over a wider marketplace. Some call this practice “influencer marketing.” Some call it PR. Either way, understanding how consumers use different information sources during the purchase process should be a top priority for brands, and PR shops have learned that a shift toward content strategy will help keep their service offerings attractive among a wider audience.
PR shops have learned that a shift toward content strategy will help keep their service offerings attractive among a wider audience.
A new consumer report from inPowered found that consumers have increased their usage of all measurable sources of information in the past five years. This makes finding marketing’s Garden of Eden much harder.
However, there is one outcome from this report that suggests PR shops that have embraced content strategy are on the right track.
Surveyed consumers say they refer to social media (52 percent), user reviews (52 percent), online ads (51 percent), expert reviews (46 percent), word of mouth (45 percent), and brand websites (44 percent), more frequently than ever before when making a purchase.
As PR has transitioned to the digital world, so have its channels of choice, which now largely comprise the avenues cited above by buyers. But consumers don’t turn to these channels to solely communicate with brands. The report shows that expert content still lifts familiarity 88 percent more than branded content, increases affinity 50 percent more, and boosts purchase consideration 38 percent more than branded content. For this reason, marketers are noting a quicker convergence of content, social media, and PR.
The study also found that branded content remains more influential than user reviews, despite an array of reports saying otherwise. However, user reviews and user-generated content remain the third-most influential content type among buyers.
Moving toward a content-driven PR model may sound extravagantly different than what has been done in the past, but truthfully, it’s not that far off from what many top-tier shops have been doing all along. The core difference is that the experts these brands court for their influencer marketing strategies don’t work for The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal exclusively. These experts are their own bosses, co-creating content with brands that align with their freelance and/or business goals.
By building relationships with these bloggers, journalists, analysts, social experts, and data mavens, brands are finding their messages spreading across the social space at a much faster rate than through historic PR stunts. And that’s OK, because PR is largely dead in the way that you and I think of it. This is much bigger than public relations because it’s more personal. It’s people relations, and it’s how top-tier shops are innovating and setting the bar for the future of the space.