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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

Time is ticking, are you ready for Google Analytics 4?

Digital analysis is an essential ingredient in the recipe for most PR and marketing campaigns. Since it first launched back in 2005, Google Analytics has become a mainstay for brands looking to track campaign performance.

It has completely transformed the way businesses understand their customers’ behaviour, from their first visit to a website through to a sign-up or purchase.

However, change is coming, and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is set to replace the current version – Universal Analytics – on 1st July 2023. After that date, Universal Analytics will no longer collect your data.

July may seem a long way off, but now is the time to do the groundwork for the move to GA4. If you’re not prepared, you could find yourself on the back foot, analysing your website without any historical data.

Why is Google Analytics changing?

When Universal Analytics was first developed, there wasn’t anything like the complexity of today’s multi-channel, multi-device, multi-platform and customer engagement. That’s why GA4 is not simply an update, it is a complete rebuild which should take digital analysis into a new dimension.

The navigation will take some getting used to, but with separate tools for data collection, reporting and analysis, GA4 should give you a better view of your existing and prospective customers’ behaviour. With the new interface, you can more effectively track where your users come from, how they interact on your site and where they exit.

Google has also implemented machine learning technology into GA4 to allow for predictive customer insights, and many businesses will welcome the improved integration with Google Ads.

Better insight into conversions

One of the changes we’re most excited about is the advancement in conversion tracking.

While Universal Analytics focuses on page views and sessions, GA4 is more of an events-based platform. That means it gives you more information about the actions people take on your site, such as starting a sale, downloading a white paper or clicking on ‘contact us’ – and the paths they took to get them to this point.

This is incredibly useful in understanding what drives people to convert and will help you see which of your marketing approaches are most successful within each of your customer types.

So when you have set up your GA4 property, it’s a good idea to look at creating some of these events straight away so you can start measuring the key actions you want people to take. With GA4, there are clear parameters that allow you to define events very specifically. This enables you to look in detail at the actions taking place on your site.

The earlier you do this, the better as you’ll see what is driving customer activity over time and can adjust your marketing and PR to bring more people to your site and keep them engaged.

If you know the customers buying your product are coming from Google Ads or the people signing up to your webinar are coming from Facebook, this knowledge will help you improve your conversion rate.

It’s time to create a GA4 property

The first step is to create a GA4 property in your Google Analytics account if you haven’t already done so, and we’ll show you how to do it later in the blog. This will enable GA4 to start recording your information from the moment you set up the property.

Don’t worry if you’re not quite ready to make the full transition to GA4. Your current Universal Analytics tracking will run alongside GA4 until July, so you can continue your day-to-day reporting for now, giving you time to think about your tracking and analysis needs in the months ahead.

The benefit is that when you do make the move to GA4, you will already have collected some valuable comparison data.

How to set up a GA4 property

You can set up a GA4 property in a few simple steps.

  1. Go to your Google Analytics account and click on admin and setup assistant.

Google Analytics 4 set up

 

 

2. Click on properties and create the new GA4 property. Give it a name.

Google Analytics 4 property

 

3. Add the new GA4 tracking tag to your site. This is easy to do if you use Google Tag Manager. Alternatively, you will need to put code onto your site so that information will be pulled into the new GA4 property.

 

4. Set up new tracking items as the ones you used in Universal Analytics will not migrate across. This could include events, goals (conversions) and audiences.

 

5. Make sure the new events you set up reflect the actions you want your customers and prospects to take and the goals you want to achieve.

 

6. Take the opportunity to create more sophisticated audiences based on the improved information you will have from GA4 about attribution. This will help you target customers more effectively and you can also use this information to get more from other platforms such as Google Ads.

 

7. Check that your new GA4 account integrates with the other platforms you use, as integration will not take place automatically.

Make GA4 work for your business

Once everything is in place, you will want to be sure that GA4 is collecting data in the most useful way for your business. Check the events you’ve set up are tracking properly and the tags are firing correctly so you are getting exactly the information you need for your PR and marketing strategies.

It’s also worth remembering that although Universal Analytics will no longer collect your data after next July, you will still be able to download the previously processed data it holds for some time afterwards.

But think carefully about what you decide to download, and just focus on the key data you need for your business decisions.

While it may seem like an added headache you don’t need, setting up GA4 now will ensure a smoother transition in the months to come.

It also provides a great opportunity to review your data goals long before the July deadline comes along.

If you would like to read more about digital marketing analysis, read our blogs on keyword research and targeting teachers on Facebook.

 

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is finding out the exact phrases people use to search for services and products, find answers to questions or solutions to problems, using search engines.

Keyword research gives you a better understanding of your target market so you can then offer them helpful and relevant information in return.

This is useful in so many areas of content development for your education business, from website copy to articles, email campaigns, blogs, video content and social media posts.

Creating content that people are searching for also has a positive impact on your search rankings, making it easier for potential customers to find you online.

But how can you find out what terms your target audience is using to search for the content they need?

1. Brainstorm your keyword list 

Start by listing all of the possible keywords and phrases potential customers are likely to put into Google. These will be your ‘seed’ keywords as they will help you find more relevant words and phrases.

Think about long-tail keywords too. These are phrases that are more specific than single words. They get less traffic, but they have a higher clickthrough rate because if someone is very specific about what they are searching for, it is more likely that they will click through to your site when they see your content.

Say you’re an education business that provides fun and engaging science lesson plans to schools. Your list might start with keywords like ‘science lesson plans’, ‘science teaching resources’, ‘science lessons for primary schools’ and you’d keep building on this list.

Then when it comes to long-tail keywords, you’d consider phrases like ‘how to make science lessons more interesting’ or ‘how to make science fun in the classroom’.

Once you’ve done some initial brainstorming, there are some tools that can help you expand and prioritise your list. We find Google Trends is a good place to start.

2. Use Google Trends for keyword research

a) Enter key terms into Google Trends to see levels of interest in specific search terms set out by region and date. This will also show you similar topics these same users have searched for. For example, when you type ‘science lesson plan’ into Google Trends, you can see that those who searched for this term also searched for ‘biological life cycle’ and ‘butterflies’. The tool can help you understand more about what teachers are looking for online and develop the right content for them.

b) Google Trends also lets you compare search wording to see what is the most searched for term. For instance, people have searched for ‘Biology lesson plan’ three times more often than for ‘Physics lesson plan’. Insight like this helps you to better focus your content according to what your target audience is searching for online.

c) You can also use your own Google search bar to check what other searches automatically come up. By typing in ‘science lesson’, you can see that the most popular searches are ‘science lessons online’, ‘science lessons for kids’ and ‘science lesson plan template’. This makes it easier for you to find out what your potential customers are searching for and give them the right content.

3. Expand your research

Take your research a step further by entering key search terms, like ‘science lesson plan’, into a free content insight tool like AnswerThePublic.

This will pull up more granular detail on the types of questions people are asking Google and give you more ideas on how to target them. The tool breaks up the data into questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabetical lists and other related searched-for topics.

For example, when you type ‘science lesson plan’ into the search bar in AnswerThePublic, you can see frequent searches like ‘science lesson plan with experiments’, and ‘science lesson plan with technology’. You can also see that the most searched for format is a pdf. See example results from AnswerThePublic here:

Science lesson plan results diagram from @answerthepublic

From a strategic perspective, you could also use an SEO analysis tool, like Ahrefs or Moz to check out your competitors and see what keywords they’re ranking highly in to help you build and define your own list. You may want to target the same keywords or look at building a list of less popular search terms that are still relevant to your business, where there is less competition.

All of these steps should help lead you to a strong keyword search list you’ll be able to use to plan and develop your content.

4. Decide on the best type of content

Once you have a targeted and comprehensive list of keywords, go through the list and think about the best types of content for each topic.

Taking our example of a science lesson provider and the research we have carried out, we might propose these four content ideas:

  • A video for teachers on how to make science engaging online
  • A series of science lesson plan pdfs with the top experiments to carry out in a science class
  • A blog post on how to prepare the ideal plan for a biology lesson

Once you’ve got a strong list of keywords that are right for your education business, you can be as creative as you like in using them to shape your content, developing blogs, videos, webinars or lesson plans.

5. Monitor progress with Google Search Console

Keep an eye on your keyword list and make a note to review it every quarter.

When you start to create content using your keywords, regularly monitoring engagement levels will help you to make adjustments where needed to keep you climbing the search rankings. This means more people will discover your content, visit your site and potentially convert into customers.

Google Search Console is useful for monitoring content posted on your website. You can use this tool to find out how often your site appears in Google search results and which pages have the highest, and lowest, click through rates from Google search results.

You can see how your search traffic changes over time too, where it’s coming from and what search queries are most likely to show your website. And you’ll get a clear idea of what keyword searches come from mobile devices so you can optimise specific content for people searching on their phones.

Being able to see which keywords and types of content are performing well will give you greater insight into the topics and formats your audience prefers on an ongoing basis.

If you’d like to find out more about how to get the attention of school leaders, read our white paper, Influence Schools.

 

Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

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