Public Relations

The 2019 Marketing Planning Series: PR Tools and Trends

By October 29, 2018 No Comments

The 2019 Marketing Planning Series.

Determining a budget based on your company’s overall priorities and goals is one thing–making sure you’re at the forefront of the marketing trends that will help you achieve those goals is another. Often, it seems like you’ve just mastered the newest marketing channel or tactic that will help build awareness or contribute to leads and sales–and then something else comes along that affects your preparations.

The media landscape is rapidly changing–which means that the channels and tactics you may have used to get your brand’s messages out into the world may need to shift. In order to better prepare for 2019, we present the top trends and tools in the world of education PR:

Trends

Influencer Marketing

The buzz around influencer marketing–which seeks to leverage people who have influence over potential customers rather than the target market as a whole–is reaching critical mass.

Mastering this concept is a tricky needle to thread. First, focus on building the brand story you want to tell, research the right influencers who can tell that story and create high-quality, engaging content. Then, think of creative ways for your selected influencers to tell your brand story. Clever brand mentions and commentary will perform better than a blatant product or sales plug.

Conferences

For the education marketing industry, conferences are hands-down the best opportunities to create connections with journalists, release big news, research competitors, generate leads and secure renewals.

In addition to attending and exhibiting at the conference, these tactics will boost your chances of realizing the full ROI from your 2019 conferences:

  • Get on the podium: Many conferences provide ample opportunities for brands or subject matter experts to present relevant, helpful information to attendees. Depending on the conference, speaking applications and registrations can range in price. Choose your top-priority conferences and research the costs associated with speaking.
  • Sponsor an aspect of the event: From signage and general advertising to hosting events and underwriting the cost of keynote speakers, there are many ways to create brand awareness at a conference. Similar to speaking opportunities, prioritize your target conferences and request a sponsorship pricing kit to inform your budget allocations.
  • Create your own on- or off-site event: Lounges for tired conference-goers to recharge their batteries, cocktail hours, catered lunches–many brands look to these kinds of bespoke events when they know high-level prospects will be in attendance. Planning events as early as possible will help reduce costs. Cost increases and space availability decreases as you approach the event.

Sponsored Media

Education marketers are recalculating their media relations strategies to include a healthy mix of earned, owned and paid–also known as sponsored–content.

The reasons? Readers spend just as much time on sponsored blogs, lists and videos as they do organic, earned media. Sponsored content gives brands a chance to build awareness, be seen as subject matter experts and increase traffic. And, sponsoring content guarantees you’ll be top of mind with your target audiences in the right outlets.

Tools

Coverage Monitoring

There are plenty of free tools out there to monitor PR coverage, and as your media relations efforts get more sophisticated, you’ll need a monitoring tool to match. Here are a few things to consider when seeking the right monitoring tool:

  • Sites monitored: Some tools monitor only social media, others focus on websites. Your toolkit should include all media that are important for your organization.
  • Robust reporting: Most coverage monitoring tools have some form of reporting to give you further insight. Determine the KPIs important to track and be sure the prospective tool offers the right functionality.

Tip: Tools that allow for customized and automated reporting will often streamline the reporting process to your leadership or board of directors!

  • Real-time updates: If there’s an unfavorable mention of your brand, or a PR crisis, you’ll want a tool will alert you as soon as possible.
  • Strong filtering capabilities: After seeing a huge number of mentions from your latest news moment, nothing is more frustrating than the realization that the majority are from low-quality or irrelevant sites. A quality monitoring tool will help you cut through all of that clutter.

News Release Distribution

Even with the rise of influencer marketing and sponsored content, journalists still rely on news releases–especially if they’re written like a great news story, which makes less work for a busy writer.

Developing the news moment and crafting the story is half the battle. The other half is getting the news distributed to your target outlets and audiences. Whether you choose to engage our services or distribute your news independently, there is a cost associated with the process.

Here are some things to consider when looking for a news release distribution platform:

  • Ease in sending out (and changing) releases: The platform should make it a snap to send to your target distribution lists, and have a friendly person on the other end of the line when your CEO wants to make a change to an already-scheduled and uploaded announcement.
  • Advanced monitoring capabilities: A platform that monitors both print and online pickups is a must.
  • Up-to-date information about outlets and journalists: Even in the education marketing world, journalists change roles quickly and outlets often merge. A platform that keeps you on top of these changes saves valuable time.
  • Alignment of social and PR analytics: Many marketers will argue that social media and PR need to be closely tied. Seeing that seamless partnership for reporting purposes is crucial.

The education market waits for no one. Education PR is no exception to this rule. As the market continues to evolve, it’s important to identify the trends early so you can react quickly with the appropriate tools. Planning your 2019 marketing budget with these education PR trends and tools in mind is essential for success. To learn all you need to know about planning for 2019, check out our comprehensive eBook here. To see our first post in the 2019 Marketing Planning Series, click here.