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Seven ways to avoid PR mistakes in 2023

2023 has kicked off with a bang and your PR team will be chomping at the bit to create great content and pitch out new story ideas to get your product or service mentioned in the national and education media.

When batteries are recharged and the creative juices are flowing, you can go off with all guns blazing in the first weeks and months of a new year.

But it’s worth looking at these seven steps to avoid PR pitfalls, get campaigns off to a flying start and achieve the results you want.  

 

1. Make sure your PR delivers on your business goals

Your PR team could be doing a great job crafting messaging that resonates with senior leaders and teachers and getting your product or company name mentioned in the publications, podcasts and blogs they go to for information. The digital skills of your marketing people are crucial for generating imaginative product launches that generate sales leads too.

But blending PR’s ability to build an audience’s trust in your brand with the focused and measurable strengths of marketing can be a powerful combination to help you meet your business goals in 2023.

Read our blog  and find out how you can use PR and marketing to build your reputation, shift opinion towards your brand, and achieve your business goals.

2. Plan, plan, plan

Approaching PR in an ad hoc way with little or no firm plan on what you want it to achieve for your business is a high-risk strategy that is unlikely to get you the results you want.

While an element of flexibility is essential for responding to the changing news agenda and shifting education marketplace, a good PR plan is the linchpin for co-ordinating the efforts of your PR and marketing and ensuring the activity they engage in actually delivers for your business.

The grounding for a successful PR plan comes from asking yourself some tough questions. These are outlined in our blog, along with our top tips for planning a great year for your PR campaigns.

3. Don’t leave keywords to chance

Whether your company supplies software to schools, training for MAT leaders or student record systems to universities, there are some common keywords and phrases the people you want to reach type into search engines when they are looking for solutions to the challenges they face.

Including these keywords in your online content will get your company name higher in the search list and make it easier for people to see how your products and services can help.

But how can you find out which keywords your audiences uses to source information online?

Check out our blog on keyword research and find out which words and phrases you should be using in your online articles and news pieces to reach the right people and put the information they need into their hands.

4. Don’t stifle creativity

When your PR or marketing team has a great idea for a campaign, is there a tendency to step back from activities that are considered to be a bit wild or crazy in favour of what’s been done before?

Make 2023 the year that you consider pushing the boundaries a little more. Even if you end up tweaking the original wild idea, injecting some fresh thinking into your PR could help you stand out from the crowd and take a successful campaign to the next level.

Get some inspiration from our short video and avoid overthinking or stifling the true creativity in your organisation this year.

5. Be ready to manage a PR crisis

No organisation is immune to a PR crisis. If the unthinkable happens – a call from a journalist who has uncovered a major fault in your product, or from a customer who says your products have corrupted their data – you need to be ready.

We have created the Complete Guide To Crisis Management For Brands & Startups in the Education Sector to help you act fast and protect your brand.

6. Get ready for Google Analytics 4

Add 1st July 2023 to your PR calendar as this is the date when Google Analytics 4 will replace the Universal Analytics platform.

But don’t get caught out. You will need to start putting the groundwork in place for the change now as you won’t be able to access your historical data after that date.

Read our blog on what to expect and what you should be doing to get the most from GA4 into and beyond 2023.

7. Don’t miss out on a prestigious award

The new year is a great time to consider entering an education award, such as the TES School Awards or the Bett Awards. An award win – or even a place on the shortlist – can bring added recognition for your brand and demonstrates to prospective customers that your product or service is among the best in class.

Writing an award winning entry can take time, but we’ve done some of the hard work for you here by outlining what you can do to give you the best chances of award success.

 

Read more about the fantastic results we have achieved for our clients and contact us if you’d like our help to deliver PR success for your organisation.

 

Photo by Tara Winstead

How do you measure PR campaign success?

So, you’ve had a great idea for a PR campaign to launch a new edtech offering, raise awareness of your brand in schools or get headteachers to watch a product demo.

But now you need to put some KPIs in place to make sure you can measure and report on how the campaign is performing both during its roll out and post campaign too.

What are the best metrics to use in PR?

That all depends on the type of campaign and what you are trying to achieve.

So let’s say you want to raise headteachers’ awareness of your brand. You might think the number of items of positive coverage secured in the press and on the websites your target audience consumes would be a good goal to measure.

You may want to track the number of speaker slots you secure for your spokespeople or customers on podcasts and at events aimed at senior leaders in schools too.

But does this really get to the heart of what you are trying to achieve for your business?

Focus on actions

Ultimately, you want the brand awareness you are generating with PR to lead to an action.

When school leaders hear about you on a podcast or blog, you may want them to:

  • Come to a specific page on your website
  • View a video on your product
  • Sign up for a free trial of your software
  • Download a white paper

So, the KPIs you put in place need to reflect the end goals.

KPIs for PR

Let’s say you’ve created a guide on improving student engagement to raise awareness of your brand.

Some KPIs you might want to set for this scenario could be:

  • Spikes in traffic to your website following the publication of opinion pieces or podcast guest slots secured by your PR team as part of the campaign
  • Direct traffic coming from any links which media outlets or websites have included in published content
  • Engagement on the site – the number of pages people look at, the average time spent on the page and if they are new or returning visitors
  • An increase in new user activity on your web site over a 3 month period, before, during and after the campaign. You can compare this with data from the same time period in previous years to get a good idea of the impact.

You can measure these using a data analytics platform such as Google Analytics.

If your goal is to capture teachers’ email addresses by placing the student engagement report behind a gated page on your web site, your KPIs will be slightly different.

They should also include x number of downloads of the content from your target audience.

It’s worth adding ‘uplift in traffic to the content landing page’ as a KPI too. An increase in traffic to, and engagement on, your website over the course of the campaign can be a good indication that the content and activity has resonated with people and they’ve made the decision to take the next step.

The benefits of the correct measures

One of the most powerful things about having the right measures in place is that it starts to influence the content and management of the campaign as it progresses.

Success can be measured against the specific KPIs you have set and if you’re not seeing an impact, you can tweak the activity over time and check the changes are making a difference.

The ultimate aim is to achieve your business goals, whether that’s more teachers talking about you online, more signups for a free trial of your software or increased sales.

Measure PR and marketing against KPIs

So before you start measuring anything, define the business objectives you are trying to achieve with the planned activity. Set specific KPIs around these to help you choose the right measurement tools and put you on track to get the results you’re after.

Below are 12 measures you can choose from to help you get the results you want from PR.

Type of measure What it isHow to do it
Back links
Links from quality external websites that send visitors directly to your site from coverage secured by your PR team, such as opinion pieces, case studies or product reviewsBacklinks are a powerful tool for increasing SEO ranking on search engines like Google.

You can monitor web traffic coming from your backlinks by looking at referral traffic in Google Analytics to see which coverage from what outlets have encouraged visitors to you site. There are also tools such as the Ahrefs back link checker which can provide a list of all the websites that have a link to your site.
Site traffic
General traffic to your web site, or visits to specific pagesMonitoring visits to your site, where they come from and how the data compares to that of previous years will help you measure the success of a timed PR campaign. Again, you can use a data analytics tool of your choice ie Google Analytics.
Time on site, bounce rate and pages visited
Useful measures to check the right kind of traffic is being driven to the siteUplifts in time on site and page visits can indicate that the prospects being directed to your content are already pre-qualified by what they have read or heard about you.

Aim to keep bounce rates as low as possible by providing content that is of value to your target audience. You can use Google Analytics to measure these metrics or an alternative tool such as Hubspot .
Search
Direct searches of your brand or productYou can monitor the number of searches for your brand using a tool like Google Search Console.

An uplift in the number of searches would suggest PR activity is resulting in more people becoming aware of your brand. Check search data for before and during a specific campaign to help you demonstrate the impact of life with and without the activity.
Reach/impressions
There is a subtle difference between social media reach and impressions, as explained below.

Reach – the total number of people who have received or interacted with your social media content.

Impressions – the number of times the algorithm has served your content onscreen, whether or not it has been clicked on
Large brands often track these metrics as a measure of increasing brand awareness.

While they might be a useful gauge of how social media algorithms are responding to your content, in isolation, they won’t give you any information about what actions people have taken as a result. Generally, unless increasing reach/impressions is your ultimate goal, don’t limit your analysis to these vanity measures alone.
Engagement
The number of likes, retweets/shares and positive comments your content receives on social media platformsThese engagement measures are critical for helping you to see how well your content is being received by your target audience. You can find these kinds of metrics by using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite to view all your social content in one place. Alternatively, get the data directly from the individual platforms.
Connections/followers
These are the people who follow you on platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or connect with you on LinkedInMonitor these if you are trying to grow your audience or reach education influencers with a piece of online content. An increase in followers/connections can indicate the activity you are engaging in is successfully raising your profile. But remember to check the connections you are gaining are relevant and match the audience you are trying to reach.
Downloads/goal conversion/email addresses
These metrics are useful for measuring specific goals you want to achieve with your PR and social media activityWhether your aim is to capture email addresses with a webinar sign up campaign or encourage downloads of a piece of content on your web site, make sure you are clear on the goal so that you can measure success towards it.

It's important to track progress towards goals as a campaign develops and make adjustments to the activity and/or social media audiences and ad spend to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Cost per click (CPC)
Data relating to the cost per click, click through rate and goal conversion measures on social media platformsKeeping an eye on the CPC rate of your campaign will help you to optimise your budget to get the results you’re after for the best return on investment.

You want to keep the CPC as low as possible, but bear in mind that if the audience you are trying to reach is small or niche multi-academy trust leaders, for example, the CPC may be higher.

If your CPC is high but a lot of the people you are trying to reach are taking the action you want them to, you may make the judgement that the result is a price worth paying.
Click through rate (CTR)

The percentage of people who click on your content when they see itA high CTR, combined with high numbers of people doing whatever it is you want them to, indicates that you are delivering the right content to the right audience and as a result, they are being encouraged to act.
Coverage
Published articles, news items and speaking opportunities secured by your PR team Quality media coverage can boost the credibility of your brand and enables you to build relationships with your target audience by demonstrating that you understand the challenges they face and can help.

Secure the right coverage for spokespeople and customers in the media your target audience reads. We tier all coverage based on a client’s objectives and the readership and quality of editorial.
Sentiment of coverage
The positive or negative tone of coverage Measuring the tone of coverage over time is useful, particularly for brands that want to counter past negative coverage or change market perceptions.

You could score the sentiment of individual coverage using a scale such as positive, negative, neutral, or balanced, or a numbered system to keep track of the overall tone of the coverage received.

Click here to find out more about generating leads for your education product or read more about how measuring PR and marketing can support your wider business strategy in our Guide to Good PR Planning.

Also, read our blog to find out how you can prepare for the changes to Google Analytics coming up in 2023 as they will affect the way you analyse the activity on your website.

 

Photo by Ann H at Pexels

Four reasons why you need PR in 2021

Well, what a year 2020 was.

As we enter a third national lockdown with hopes of improvement by the spring, here are four reasons why 2021 is the year to invest in PR.

1. Because technology is a part of our lives like never before

Stuck at home during the pandemic, many of us are spending more of our lives online. We are using our devices for work, socialising, shopping, exercise and entertainment.

This may have changed how your business connects with customers.

You can no longer meet in person with teachers or carry out live demos of your products. So, many business leaders find themselves asking how to connect with their audience in an authentic way.

One way is to meet your audience where they are: online.

Using digital PR and communications, you can connect with current and prospective customers via your online channels.

You can find the right way to reach parents and teachers, whether it’s through online campaigns, virtual events, blogs or video testimonials.

2. To take advantage of a rise in social media and influencer culture 

If your business isn’t engaging effectively with customers on social media, then your business isn’t properly communicating with customers.

In the last year, all social media apps reported an increase in usage.

The likes of YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, which allow people to create, upload and share videos, have become increasingly popular. Last year, nine in 10 online adults, and almost all older children aged 8 to 15 years, used at least one of these websites and apps, and many watched videos several times a day.

Running integrated campaigns on social media is key to successful business communications.

Choose a theme that relates to your education product, create a key campaign message and be sure to track engagement. Make sure you use the right platform for your campaign and that it’s timely.

Consider partnering with a social media influencer who fits with your brand values and audience. They can help you reach your target audience, build trust, and increase engagement. This could be a blogger, journalist or podcaster. It could be a well-known teacher, edtech expert or education consultant.

Investing in social media will help you connect with current and prospective clients, boost awareness and increase leads.

3. So you can gain your audience’s trust 

Think about what your customers consider When deciding whether to buy your education product or service. Has this changed since the same time last year?

Recognise changes in your customers and their needs. Whether it’s spending power, ways of working, or challenges in education during the pandemic. And allay any fears or concerns.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 88% of us rate ‘trust’ as important or critical when it comes to deciding which brands to buy or use. Out of 8,000 people surveyed in 8 countries in October 2020, ‘trust’ was the third most important purchase criteria, with ‘price’ and ‘quality’ only slightly ahead, regardless of gender, nationality, age or income.

Personal experience matters the most when it comes to building trust. If your business can communicate with clients through friends, family, experts and reviews from trusted sources, then you’ve taken a step in the right direction in helping them to trust you and your business offering.

PR activities like product reviews, case studies, video testimonials and influencer campaigns can all help to strengthen trust among your target audience.

4. To help you manage a PR crisis

Last year was crisis, followed by crisis, followed by crisis.

The coronavirus outbreak, civil unrest and economic downturn.

An impeachment trial, a contested presidential election and a wave of international protests leading to a moment of reckoning on racism.

Not to mention natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods.

If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s to be as prepared as we can be for a crisis. A well-managed crisis can actually win your brand fans rather than lose them, so the third lockdown may be an opportunity to reflect on how you would manage a crisis.

PR crisis planning means having guidelines in place for an emergency or unexpected situation.

How is your company going to react if the lockdown lasts longer than expected? What will your company do if there was a breach of school data? Or if your education software that teachers rely on for online learning has technological issues?

Don’t get caught off guard.

Identify the risks to your education business, rank them in order of seriousness and put a plan in place for each one.

Your crisis plan should outline your response to stakeholders such as customers, employees and the media. It needs to include key messaging for all of your business platforms, including social media. And make sure your spokesperson is media trained.

Check out our ‘cut out and keep’ guide to crisis management here.

Get started

The best time to start planning your PR is now.

Don’t put it off for another day. Who knows what this year has in store!

If you’re ready to start planning your PR for 2021, get in touch today on hello@theinfluencecrowd.co.uk.

Or have a read of our PR planning guide for some more top tips.

 

Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS from Pexels

What is integrated PR – and why can’t you afford to ignore it?

Good PR has the power to shift opinion towards a brand. There’s no doubt that opinion pieces, press articles and blogger recommendations encourage a teacher to consider your product in a way that a heavy-handed sales push won’t.

In fact almost half (47%) of buyers rely on media articles before making a purchase, according to Iliyana Stareva in her book, Inbound PR.

So, traditional PR will do wonders for your coverage, but does it deliver on your overall business goals?

Missed opportunities

Even if the overarching objective of your PR activity is to increase sales of your products – a key business goal – it’s quite possible that objective doesn’t appear on your PR plan.

Your team may be focusing on crafting your message, engaging your audience and getting your name in the right places, which are all great ways to raise the profile of your brand.

But that doesn’t necessarily get more teachers to buy your product.

For that, you need to convert prospective customers into sales. This has traditionally been the job of marketing, and marketing does it well, with its ability to focus on a specific product launch, generate sales leads and measure the impact on the bottom line.

However, marketing tends to concentrate on the product you want to sell.

Education PR reinvented

What’s often missing from the marketing approach is an understanding of how to engage teachers in the long term with your brand and spread the word that your company cares about helping teachers do their jobs.

That’s what PR does well.

If you take the focused and measurable strengths of marketing and blend them with PR’s ability to build an audience’s trust in your brand, you have an awesome combination.

The best of both marketing and PR’s talents, focused on your business goals.

That’s why we’re so excited about integrated PR, because it not only raises awareness of your brand, but can also change the behaviour of your prospective customers, making them more likely to buy your product.

Best of all worlds

Integrated PR makes your content work harder by using multiple channels and marketing techniques to make the biggest impact.

This is the philosophy behind the PESO model, developed by Spin Suck’s founder and CEO, Gini Dietrich. The model underpins integrated PR campaigns that combine Paid, Earned, Shared or social and Owned channels to draw your audience in and achieve tangible results.

Here’s how it works:

  1. An EdTech company writes a research report from a survey it conducted into teaching coding in schools.
  2. The report goes behind a gated area of the website where teachers’ contact details are requested before they can access the report. This generates leads for further marketing.
  3. The PR team writes a series of blogs and articles for the education media using the report content. These articles contain a link back to the report download page on the company’s website, increasing the number of signups and generating more leads.
  4. The team engages the help of influential education bloggers to link to the report via their social media profiles. Teachers see the report being recommended by people they trust.
  5. A social advertising campaign is launched on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter to promote the report.
  6. The internal marketing team posts blogs using the report content on the company’s website to achieve further exposure to teachers.
  7. Months of coverage on social feeds, influencer sites and the education press engages teachers with the brand. There are also hundreds of new email leads from the report download.
  8. The integrated PR campaign improves brand awareness, secures new business leads and provides a return on investment.

PR is changing, and the days of focusing on coverage alone are gone. By blending the best of PR and marketing, integrated PR campaigns can build your reputation, shift opinion towards your brand, and achieve your business goals.

 

To find out how integrated PR can help your business, read our white paper, Influence Schools.

Why teachers won’t open your emails…

You want to let teachers and school leaders know about your great new product, service or event so you’ve written a peach of an email and sent it on its way. But not only do you get scant response, most teachers don’t even open the email at all.

Why is that?

Teachers are just too busy.

They’re not just busy, they are insanely busy.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers were working 9 million extra hours without pay every week according to the TUC.

On a typical day, a teacher will move from classroom to meeting to classroom, answering questions in the corridor as they go. There’s barely time for a cup of coffee. Even if they do get round to seeing your email, there will be a more urgent one from a worried parent or head of year that has to be answered first. By then it’s too late for your carefully crafted message to hit the mark.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Once a teacher gets home and the laptop’s back on, there’s barely a moment to skim through the inbox because it’s time to tackle that pile of essays or look through the agenda for tomorrow’s departmental meeting.

It’s hardly surprising teachers don’t get round to reading marketing emails.

Teachers look for advice from a trusted source

When a teacher eventually does find some quiet time to research resources for teaching maths to intervention groups, your email may not be what comes to mind.

Rather than clicking on your link and booking an online demo, a teacher might prefer to talk to other teachers at similar schools to see what they are using. A quick tweet or a visit to a Facebook group will give them the answer they’re looking for in seconds.

And it will be an answer they will trust.

A busy teacher wants quick and reliable recommendations before they make a buying decision, so they will turn to places where they can find expert advice. Articles in teaching magazines, posts on an education association forum or a product review in a blog or podcast.

…and what you can do about it

The good news is that there are ways to tell teachers about your product or service – and to encourage them to buy it – without wasting time and effort on emails that never get read.

You can reach those busy teachers and become one of the sources that they trust.

  1. Have a clear objective

First, you need to define your business objectives. Be as specific as possible about what you want to achieve. If you are looking to change the opinions of teachers who have never considered your product, you need to define how many people you should aim to reach with your message to shift those opinions.

  1. Understand your audience and know their challenges

Think carefully about how your prospective customer looks for information and what kind of content they consume. If the teacher you’re targeting reads the TES, listens to the EdTech podcast and is active on LinkedIn, take a look at these channels yourself to see what your audience’s trusted sources are.

Speak to your target customers, do some research and find out what challenges they need to solve. Do they want to save time recording pupils’ marks, or inspire reluctant writers to tell stories? Then think about how your product or service will help a teacher solve these problems.

  1. Create your message

Use your knowledge of your audiences to decide what sort of content will hit home. Carry out some keyword research and see what terms teachers are searching for that could be relevant to the solutions you’re offering. This will help you develop your messaging and show teachers your brand understands their challenges and can help solve them.

  1. Choose your channels

Reach out to teachers using a combination of channels. Increase your coverage on social feeds and influencer sites to demonstrate you’re a source that teachers can trust. Write using the language teachers use in your blogs, and show teachers your creative lesson ideas in action by filming a series of short videos.

  1. Measure your results

Keep track of your most successful channels. If you started with a campaign that focuses on social ads on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but only Facebook is getting results, then you can shift your spend across to that channel to ensure you’re getting the best value from your outlay.

The days of reaching teachers by email alone are long gone.

But you can engage even the busiest teacher when they trust your brand to help them. And that’s when you’ll find teachers actively seeking you out for solutions.

To find out more about getting teachers to notice your brand, read our white paper, Influence Schools.

 

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