How To Leverage PR For Your Brand With Beck Bamberger
For brands to leverage PR effectively, it takes a lot more than a simple story in a publication. At the foundation, it’s about building relationships between organizations and the public by having the ability to communicate a message effectively.
Beck is a former, on-air host and executive producer which led her to an Emmy in 2011. She is a contributing writer to publications like Inc, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Forbes. AND she currently serves as the founder of BAM Communications, a public relations firm focused on representing the movers, shakers, breakers, and makers of technology.
Here are the highlights:
What is BAM Communications and what is a day-to-day like with your clients?
"We're storytellers. Our notion is that everyone has a story and it's our job to elevate and showcase that story by keeping the narrative tight and consistent.
Our favorite situation is a company in stealth, that is doing something groundbreaking and possibly world-changing that we get to collaborate with to expose in the media.
We are here to fundamentally showcase their story mostly through editorial earned content such as getting into Bloomberg, the CNBC's and the Tech Crunches of the world. Number two, in their content. Writing content and placing it. Number three, in their social channels. How we tell that story and keeping the whole storyline together."
In terms of PR and relationships with media outlets, how do you balance multiple clients trying to get into the same places without overextending your welcome?
"This is why PR is one of the most stressful jobs in America. 24-7 you're dealing with it. You are dealing with pleasing the client and pleasing the press and being the bridge between them. And the press owes you nothing.
The only way to get [the press's] trust, is by befriending them first. Help them get their sources, help them produce the story and don’t always be funneling and pushing your clients on them for your obvious benefit."
What is the difference between PR and advertising?
"Public relations can mean many different things. Any and all publics you are speaking to. Maybe that's your board, your shareholders, your employees, your internal communications, etc. Typically what people think of is media relations and dealing with the press.
It's long been known and debated, but editorial earned content is far more valuable and credible than anything you could buy an ad for. Consumers are savvy enough to know a paid spot. That's why you have to disclose it in magazines because you could say whatever you want in an advertisement. If you want to get a whole story featuring your company, that's much harder, but it’s going to be much more validating."
How has social media changed your role over the last 5 years and how do you manage it?
"It depends what space the client is in, but you cannot simply ignore your social channels. It is another outlet that you can control. You should leverage it to the best of your ability when you have a great piece of earned content come out."
What data tools do you use to show clients the value of media outlets and influencers talking about their brands?
"We use one that we white label called TrendKite. It's very popular, but also expensive. It allows you to see how your press pieces stacking up compared to competitors. What are the social amplifications? What is driving the most to your website? Where did people click? And so on.
However, do we ever fully know the extent of clear ROI, no. This is the oldest problem in advertising and marketing. We can’t track where the influence of those eyeballs go."
How can brands use social media to increase their PR for brand awareness?
"The number one thing when you get an earned piece is to share it and leverage it to the best of your ability on all your platforms. You’ll see a lot of brands doing this. They don’t say “buy our thing”, they put what the press has said. Whatever it is, That's credibility and validation. The media functions as a validation tool and a signal to the consumer.
Don’t cut yourself off of a great piece of coverage by not leveraging it immediately and continuously on your platforms."
How have you brought in social media influencers to extend that brand awareness?
"The whole influencer space is a bit of an upheaval. Currently, there is a large supply of these individuals, because anybody can do it if you get to a good enough mark. There was a great investigative piece in The New York Times about paid or bought followers and even bots that are mimicking real actual profiles.
It's hard to distinguish and discern among the credible ones who could actually do something for your brand versus the ones that are fluff. One thing I always look at is followers on their Instagram; of those, when they post something, did they get one-hundred comments or did they get two? That seems like a red flag right there. Bots can even leave fake comments so you really need to be careful."
With influencers and clients, what’s the justification for ROI?
"We usually take it as a “nice to have.” If you have some extra budget and want to experiment in that space, great! Should your entire marketing or majority of your budget be spent on just influencers? Probably risqué, probably risqué.
We dedicate some to experimenting with the hope that they really do have real followers in their niche audience that can actually move their product. But, some are going to be duds and you need to be okay with that.
For example, if I had a product, I wouldn't touch the influencers right off the bat. I would first think about the outlets in which the product could be showcased in. Then, I would send a really cool, compelling gift box to the columnist or person I’m trying to reach. I’d try to line up a meeting or have an event in which we could put it physically in their hands. It's a softer pitch that way."
What is your overall feeling on influencers in the next five years?
"I think we are seeing a big balloon with influencers. You’re seeing all this interest right now and then it'll morph back into what's realistic. A lot of people want to get in the game but then it's going to shrivel to its true market instead of an explosive one."
Earned media value; how do you attach a dollar value to an organic tweet from Lady Gaga for example?
"This is the ultimate end-all problem. We have no solution for this, no one does.
When it comes to clients, we don't deal with that. If we're trying to convince on a consistent basis, that's a bad client for us. Our clients are ones who come to us saying, “we need PR, we understand it or we think we understand it, here is why we believe we need it, what can you do for us?”
The question is, how much? But at least you could say to your client, “if you had paid for that, we know her pricing list, here's what it would have been.”
When you have a volume of things to show to a client, we look at the aggregate of it. Branding is an aggregate artist's game. It's not usually a one-time thing that triggers the consumer to act in such a way, it is an aggregate play. So, you could stand to the body of your work and point."
What's your philosophy when dealing with a crisis and risk management?
"First thing, a crisis can happen anytime. You are never too small to have a plan in place in case an employee goes off the rails or there's something with the co-founder. There are so many cases. It doesn't matter your size, the amount of funding, or whatever. Have a plan in place, that's the best thing."
When something bad happens, what is your philosophy on the first thing to do?
"There are so many people who botched this. The number one thing is to address it and address it immediately. “We are aware of the situation involving X, we are working on the solution, we are looking into it etc.” Not addressing it, creates speculation. People are going to fill in the gaps and they're going to talk about it. You need to raise that flag to say, we are aware. If there is a certain time frame tied to it, this is when we will respond. Then you can get into the response once you have aggregated the information pertaining to the situation.
Ignoring is the worst thing. People will fill in the gaps and they will do it immediately, within hours."
Looking 5-10 years out, where do you think PR is going for brand awareness?
"I think there is a slight backlash brewing with short-form content. We are going towards longer-form that is going in-depth. It's always swinging, and I feel in journalism right now there is a huge crescendo at the moment.
I think there will always be the ten second little blips and videos that are bite size. But for the consumer that wants the in-depth and wants to really understand something, there is going to be a space for the long-form."
What's the first step a business can take for PR and their brand?
"You can start by making your own relationships. You don't go up to someone and say, “you want to write a whole story about me?” No, if you don't know them, then you seem like a weirdo and that's not going to be well taken. Start slowly. Pick out twenty outlets, find who writes for them, email them, meet for coffee, etc. Don't make the ask right off the bat.
Spend six months to a year building your own relationships with the different outlets.
When the time comes and you've spent the time and invested in making that relationship, that's when you get favors. That's how you build a relationship.
The only way you can get coverage right off the bat is if you have a fantastic client doing fantastic things that is a perfect fit for this writer. But how many situations do you get like that? Less than you'd like."
How do you package that and make the publishers life easier?
"They’re checking on their phone, typically through emails which is the number one source they receive pitches. It needs to be short, sweet, and well packaged -- bullet points, no more than ten sentences."
You've been to more than sixty countries, how has that shaped your storytelling and the narratives you tell with clients and outlets?
"Storytelling is universal. It is all across humanity. We've been telling stories as long as we've been around fires, so that's never going away. How we tell stories, of course, will change. This [podcast] is a form of storytelling, Twitter is a form of storytelling. So, it's going to change and evolve.
I think it's a good reminder of the customs and norms that every culture, whether that’s an ethnic one or a business one, pertains to."
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