Social media strategist Sally Falkow recently published an infographic entitled '15 Digital Skills for PR and Marketing'.

In this episode of PR Leads - the first for 2017 - Trevor Young and Dionne Lew discuss the first six of Sally's list of skills, digging in with some detail as to why these new skill-sets are important for PR professionals, and in doing so provide context and examples from the trenches of modern public relations practice.

The six digital skill-set are:

  • Monitor social media
  • Keyword research
  • SEO
  • Visual literacy
  • Original image creation
  • Video

Dionne and Trevor cover skill-sets 7-15 inclusive in the next episode of PR Leads (#13).

 

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This is the final PR Leads episode for 2016. It's the time of year when plenty of people in the industry get on their prediction freak on: What's going to be the next big thing next year? 

Usually such predictions revolve around hot new technologies, but Dionne Lew and Trevor Young eschew all that in this episode, preferring to focus on the basics.

They kick off with content - a topic that has dominated previous PR Leads episodes because of the massive opportunity it provides in-house communicators.

When it comes to producing content for your organisation's owned media and social channels, both Dionne and Trevor agree brands are going to have to lift the bar.

 

There's just too much template stuff being churned out, almost by rote. It's not just a case of being targeted and useful to your audience; there's a bigger picture at play - content needs to adhere to a purpose that's unique to the organisation that produced it.

As Dionne advises: "Take a break, step back ... ask yourself why you're here; what's the purpose, what's the vision, what do you want to achieve." 

Trevor discusses his concept of 'respectful reminders', and why influence, reputation and trust will continue to be big-ticket items in the year ahead, while Dionne explains the potency of major premium content pieces (i.e. research) that will not only get noticed but also potentially create impact over the year as a result of being repurposed or 'chunked down' for different channels.

"It's about leveraging that key expertise that you have ... in ways that are going to resonate," says Dionne.

Dionne and Trevor's wish for 2017 (not necessarily a prediction) is that it becomes the year of human communications and the flight to quality in terms of more meaningful content being produced by brands.

Understand the new technologies that are emerging by all means, but don't be distracted by them; instead, focus on humanity, quality and thoughtfulness, and understand (and reflect in everything you do) your company's 'why'. 

 

Brands mentioned: Firebrand Talent, Buffer, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

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Dionne Lew and Trevor Young discuss the importance of thought leadership in business and why it's critical PR teams work with senior executives and internal subject matter experts to ensure personal profiling efforts are executed with purpose and strategic intent. 

But what social and publishing tools should aspiring enterprise-based thought leaders use?

Traditionally writing for the company blog was the go-to option but other platforms such as LinkedIn and Medium continue to find favour because of their ease of use and built-in audience. Medium in particular is gaining traction with business and community leaders as a place to share ideas, insights and perspectives on big picture issues. Indeed, a number of companies are now also starting to use the platform to house their corporate blog (Basecamp is one such example).

And which of the plethora of social channels should aspiring thought leaders consider using?

Too often people are making judgements on outdated thinking when it comes to social media, which begs questions such as: Is the way we look at the different social channels still the same as a few years back? Are we missing out on opportunities becuase we continue to cling to those perceptions?

Dionne discusses how she has changed her opinion about Facebook for business, and highlights the new Facebook Workplace intiative.

She also explains how business leaders that are not active on social media are missing out on "those unexpected synergies and insights" that, she believes, can alter your thinking or the way you run your business.

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Content marketing is a massive opportunity for PR and communications professionals, but is also brings with it its own set of challenges. 

This is particularly the case for large organisations that are constantly being pitched content ideas from a cross-section of their agency roster, including PR firms, ad agencies, social media consultancies, digital marketing agencies ... even SEO companies are actively pitching content ideas!

Building on previous conversations around the future of social media, Dionne Lew and Trevor Young explore where content marketing is headed, from a PR and communications perspective. Some of the topics they touch on include: 
  • How content is in danger of becoming an "overwhelming pile of nothingness"
  • Why just producing content for content's sake is a mug's game 
  • The importance of having a strategy to guide your content efforts
  • Why motherhood statements shouldn't be considered 'content'
  • The amazing opportunity webinars provide PR teams
  • Creating content where the audience is versus having your own digital home base
  • Building a brand space on Medium.com 
  • Contextual content that serves the greater good (and why you can't go wrong being useful and helpful)
  • The importance of pushing the envelope and taking a risk with your content 
  • Using content to take people behind the velvet rope of your organisation
  • Creating your own philosophy around content marketing 
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Social media continues to evolve and disrupt in equal measure. But where is it heading, and what does that mean for public relations practitioners?

Co-host of PR Leads Dionne Lew recently delivered a seminar presentation on the future of social media, and in preparation she posted a video on Facebook asking:
Should we stop calling social media, 'social media' or just realise that it includes a whole lot more now than when it first erupted nearly 14 years ago?

Instant feedback provided to Dionne was that many people had been asking the same question. A lot of mixed views on whether channels like private messaging apps should be counted (hard to get metrics) but also a lot of overlap on the tags we need to lose (new, social, digital) it's all 'marketing' or 'it's all media'. 

In this episode of PR Leads, Dionne and Trevor Young aka 'The PR Warrior' delve into this broad topic; their chat includes the future of Twitter, 'dark social channels and the issue of privacy, and the growth of one-way broadcast of marketing messages on the main social platforms.

They also touch on the human limitation of time and capacity to consume the torrent of digital content they're confronted with on a daily basis, and how this is influencing their behaviour on social channels.
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Rita Zonius is the Head of Internal Digital Communications at ANZ Bank.


Rita chats with Dionne Lew and Trevor Young about her role at ANZ and how the bank is increasingly using digital and social media for its communications, with a skew to what's happening internally.

The conversation also touches on ANZ's Notable Women program and Blue Notes, a publication of ANZ's newsroom, featuring insights, opinion, research and news about the economy, financial services and investment.
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It's critical PR leaders keep themselves up to date with what's happening in the worlds of media, marketing and communications. That's easier said than done as these areas that are changing at alarming rates.

In part one of this episode of PR Leads, Dionne Lew and Trevor Young discuss why it's important PR professionals read widely in order to gain ideas and insights from a broad spectrum of information sources.

Being able to think strategically is critical for PR leaders today, to be able to 'join the dots' of a challenge or issue, cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter creatively, aided by insight.

In part two of the podcast, Dionne and Trevor discuss the books, blogs and podcasts they regularly read or listen to, including: 
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto (Book)
  • Krista Tippett's On Being podcast
  • New Rules of Marketing & PR and Web Ink Now blog by David Meerman Scott 
  • Scott Monty's The Full Monty newsletter
  • Brand Newsroom podcast hosted by James Lush, Sarah Mitchell and Nic Hayes
  • Brand Storytelling with Rakhal Ebeli
  • Jay Baer's Convince and Convert blog (including Social Pros podcasts)
  • Inside PR and For Immediate Release (on the FIR Podcast Network)
  • Ian Cleary's Razor Social blog
  • Social Media Examiner blog
  • Optimize by Lee Odden (book)
  • Seth Godin (books and blogs)
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Publishing compelling content is a powerful way for any company or organisation to build public recognition for their brand, product, service or issue.

In an era where the public’s trust in business, government and media remains at worrying low levels, forward-thinking marketing and PR teams are turning to content as a means to not only differentiate their brand in the marketplace, but also better engage customers and stakeholders.

Now, you could say content creation has always figured highly in the PR professional's remit, and you'd be right. But today, we have the tools and the technology to tell our own stories and build our own audiences, versus simply relying on third-party media outlets.

While the ease of use and availability of online publishing platforms creates massive opportunities for brands and their comms teams, equally it presents challenges as well.
  • What sort of content should we be creating?
  • How much content should we be publishing?
  • What should we be creating content about?
  • How should we distribute our content?
  • What about social media? And where does media and influencer relations fit into the content equation?
In this broad-ranging discussion, Trevor Young and Dionne Lew focus on how PR can use content to build visibility, influence, reputation and trust for the brand they represent.

They chat about utility-based content versus thought leadership content, and why 'owned media' content is critical today when it comes to media relations.

Brands mentioned in this episode include Umpqua Bank, ANZ Bank, tech startup Buffer, paint manufacturer Farrow & Ball, Melbourne-based Mailguard and online wallet retailer, Bellroy.


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Influencer marketing, influencer engagement, influencer relations - call it what you will but the whole notion of companies tapping into the power of influencers to build visibility and credibility for their brand has been around forever, but in recent times it has taken on a whole new meaning.


Why is this the case? 

Why is influencer marketing suddenly hot property, and what do PR and communications practitioners need to be aware of when it comes to engaging influencers on behalf of their brand. 

These are just some of the questions Dionne Lew and Trevor Young tackle in this episode of PR Leads.

They discuss: 
  • what constitutes influence, 
  • the difference between celebrity marketing and influencer marketing, 
  • why some 'influencers' might not actually be influential at all; 
  • the various tools and services brands are using to identify suitable influencers, and 
  • the difference between influencer 'relations' and influencer 'marketing'.
People, brands and products mentioned in this episode include Bupa, Tribe app, The Remarkables, Traackr, Little Bird, Michael Jordan, Timothy Hughes, Margaret Thatcher and George Negus. 

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What will the PR department of a major corporate look like in the future? 

What skill-sets are needed, and are they being taught currently? 

Should PR departments outsource emerging specialist skills or develop them internally, or both? 

In this episode of PR Leads, Dionne Lew and Trevor Young get tactical, discussing the types of skills that will be demanded of the profession in coming years (if they're not already).

While we have plenty of new and exciting technologies emerging all the time, being able to write effectively remains a critical skill, as is the ability to develop (and tell) a good story. However, it could be argued that today, being able to tell a story across multiple mediums is also important and will become an ever-increasing in-demand skill of the future.

Other skills communications will need to understand (but not necessarily have deep production knowledge of - this can be outsourced if need be) include video live-streaming, production of micro-content for social media, development of owned media channels, how to identify and build relationships with independent content creators and micro-influencers (over and above traditional media), storytelling via video or audio, and understanding the elements that make up an effective online newsroom.

Both Dionne and Trevor agree that great opportunities exist for PR pros to provide journalists with supporting content that will make their stories stand out from the pack, as well as being able to produce their own content and communicate directly with key target audience communities.

While skills can be learnt, according to Trevor and Dionne, ultimately the effective PR department of the future will be driven by passionate and curious professionals who have the the right mindset required to build the culture and team that can adapt to today's noisy, always-on, digital-first world.

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