On today’s episode of Brandstorm, we welcome Lisa Buyer, the founder of social PR agency The Buyer Group and the author of Social PR Secrets: How to Optimize, Socialize, and Publicize Your Brand. Lisa discusses how brands can best align their digital presence and how being an early adapter to the internet and social media has made her an industry thought leader in her space.
About Lisa Buyer
Lisa comes from a traditional PR background, having specialized in corporate communications and branding before the birth of Google. She explains that she had an “A-ha!” moment when several of her fast-moving technology clients, as well as those she had connected with at conferences, expressed their need to go from a six-month PR campaign down to mere weeks. She soon realized that it would benefit her career to begin using the internet and search engine optimization to distribute news items quicker than it would normally take to go through journalists individually. Since the public relations landscape had not changed in about a hundred years prior to the digital age, Lisa sees social PR as a huge opportunity for brands and PR professionals to leverage Google, the internet and search marketing to get their stories publicity.
Lisa mentions that early on, she found herself explaining the whole idea of social PR over and over to prospects, clients and even her own employees so that they could catch up. It was through this continual process of education that she came up with the idea for her book, now in its fourth edition. Lisa currently spends much of her time continuing to teach, speak and write for various search and social marketing platforms. She has also shared panels with the likes of Google, Microsoft and Digg.
How Has the Role of PR Changed?
The advent of social media has allowed small brands to compete with large corporations. This is due to the fact that smaller companies have less red-tape and a quicker approval process than bigger ones, plus smaller companies have more flexibility within social and can change their strategy quicker than large businesses.
Lisa explains that while most PR agencies realize they have to say they’re including social in search (aka “digital PR”), most agencies are not actually using it to their full potential. While there is nothing wrong with traditional PR methods, there is room for improvement across the board. While many young PR agents are in their 20’s, Lisa mentions that older generations of workers in the PR realm don’t believe that today’s digital methods are important, so perhaps in a decade, the playing field will be more level.
What Does “Optimization” Mean?
In a broad sense, optimization can refer to augmenting your playbook and staying on top of trends. This includes having multimedia as a consistent portion of your storytelling, press releases or blog posts. Exactly how you optimize can be different depending on format and audiences. In the example of including multimedia with your stories, doing things like saving files with branded keywords, including meta-descriptions and other methods bringing traffic back to your website are all other ways to optimize. Comparing these methods to standard ad buys, Lisa tells us that optimizing PR content, web content and blog content can keep your original investment paying dividends and building momentum, whereas when the money for ad buys dries up, that’s the end of the road for that campaign.
Ensuring People Empathize with Your Story
With commercial uses and sales for virtual reality and augmented reality on the rise, Lisa says that brands are using these methods within their marketing in rapid numbers. For instance, a non-profit fundraiser can allow donors to feel or experience an environment or a condition, instead of simply showing them a short video about their mission. Although not every household has the necessary gear for VR or AR just yet, users are becoming more expectant of it, so Lisa thinks marketing professionals need to up their game and dip their toes into this arena before it’s too late.
What Channels Are Best for Brands?
This answer depends on the brand and where their audience is, explains Lisa. Each social media channel has their own demographics and reasons their users are there. While Snapchat is popular amongst Generation Z, many brands and marketers are finding more results on Instagram (where many brands are debuting their content first these days) and Facebook (where, with a little bit of paid advertising, brands can micro-target exactly who they want to reach, including media). Lisa also mentions that most journalists have a Twitter account, so interacting with them there is key if you’re looking for press.
Lisa’s Advice for Brands
Lisa recommends that brands jump on any new features that the web or social media launch. Recent examples include IGTV (Instagram’s latest update where you can upload up to one full hour of video per post) and Facebook Live (which offers streaming video directly to your Facebook page in real time). She states that when the least amount of brands and users are engaging, companies like Instagram or Facebook will reward those that participate early. Once everyone else is using a specific method, it becomes harder to gain attention there.