Posts Tagged ‘marketing’


5 ways to build trust through publicity

Anna Pollock of Desticorp recently highlighted the changes in the way consumers are making choices.

She quoted statistics from FutureLab that reveal the soaring mistrust of brands and advertising, and pointing to peer reviews as being the most trusted influence in the decision to buy:

“Peer reviews are preferred over expert reviews by a 6 to 1 margin,” she told us.

She also pointed to the change in what makes a successful brand. No longer are we looking to brands that express an identity or image. It seems we’re now looking for those that appeal to our aspirations: “how does this brand make the world a better place?” (Think IBM’s ‘You can innovate to make a difference’ and BP’s ‘green’ logo.)

This is reflected in the world of online marketing, where a business is more likely to succeed if it:

  • convinces us of its credibility through customer reviews, testimonials or stories, and
  • regularly publishes useful content that addresses our problems and aspirations (a flashy website dedicated purely to image is less likely to convert).

As consumers, we no longer rely on a one-way flow of information via static websites, ads, brochures etc. We look for peer reviews and someone who understands our problems or desires, and who is willing to help us by providing information and resources.

A conversation is taking place.

Underneath the conversation lies a series of supportive ‘resources’ – or products and services that bring the business its revenue. Trust in the business leads to acquisition of the customer – or sales.

This set me thinking about what this all means for PR, and publicity in particular.

Publicity has always been a way to create a story and inspire a conversation around a product or service, and this is why it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. It’s the closest form of marketing to word-of-mouth, which is the most trusted.

My advice is to give your audience what they’re looking for – a conversation around the relevant issues, with engaging stories from satisfied customers.

Here are my five ways to build trust through publicity:

  1. Steer clear of promotional messages. The journey is from conversation to conversion. Trying to sell during the conversation is similar to interruption advertising, and is less likely to succeed.
  2. Start a conversation by putting out interesting, newsworthy, issues-based messages.
  3. Find satisfied customers who are willing to be profiled or tell their aspirational and inspirational story.
  4. Put more stories and articles on your site and make them freely available to the media and your prospects.
  5. Be genuine and responsive in your intention to offer free advice and support through all your media channels (including your own site) – readers and listeners are becoming very good at sniffing out a fake, and will expect a conversation, not a pitch.

How many media contacts on your PR firm’s database?

Many PR firms or news distribution services will attempt to win your business by boasting a database of hundreds or thousands of media contacts. Impressed? You shouldn’t be.

Long Tail author, Chris Anderson, recently declared that he was fed up with being spammed by PR people, and had decided to block all but those who contact him for the right reasons:

“I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that,” says Anderson.

Here are responses from marketing gurus Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott, both of whom explain the value of keeping media contact lists small but targeted.

Some of the comments on Anderson’s post complained about the difficulty of tracking down media contacts and creating a tailored database. Much easier to buy a list and spam it. But Anderson’s response is a good example of why this is a bad idea.

As a former magazine editor, I can sympathise with the spammed, and this is one of the reasons we have established a policy of creating shorter, more targeted media lists and take the trouble to find out who to send our releases to.

Sometimes this is all but impossible and publications insist on all press releases being filtered through a ‘newsdesk’, and that’s their prerogative.

But when a PR agency takes the trouble to research publications and channels that match a press release with the audience demographic, build a targeted list, include a personalised email message to the top contacts showing how the release is relevant to the target audience, and encourage a dialogue, the results are much more impressive.