Team Wizikey

Written by Team Wizikey

April 19, 2023

“Having a strong data infrastructure is crucial in guiding communication efforts and should not be overlooked.”-Cynthia from brightbeam

This episode features Cynthia, a marketing leader with over 15 years of experience in content marketing, public relations, and brand leadership for various audiences. She emphasizes the importance of tracking the reader journey to optimize PR strategies for increased brand visibility and organic traffic. Introduction 00:47 About 10 years ago, I started my career in […]

“Having a strong data infrastructure is crucial in guiding communication efforts and should not be overlooked.”-Cynthia from brightbeam

This episode features Cynthia, a marketing leader with over 15 years of experience in content marketing, public relations, and brand leadership for various audiences. She emphasizes the importance of tracking the reader journey to optimize PR strategies for increased brand visibility and organic traffic.

Introduction

00:47 About 10 years ago, I started my career in public relations alongside my work as a content marketer. It was in the beauty industry where I stumbled upon this field by chance. I was working for a small company that required communication and public relations coverage, and I learned by doing in both the United States and the UK. Although I was based in San Francisco, I handled PR and Communications for a Tokyo-based company with offices in London and San Francisco. Over time, public relations became a core function of my overall role as a marketer. I honed my skills by attending conferences and asking questions, and I used PR to drive organic traffic for the companies I worked for.

Favourite campaign

2:02 In recent years, one of my notable PR efforts involved announcing an early stage startup and using data to inform our approach. We established KPIs to measure reach, mentions, and earned media, and closely tracked the reader journey to understand how our stories were being consumed. It was crucial to recognize that in the tech industry, there are often two distinct audiences – customers and potential investors – and we tailored our approach accordingly. By doing so, we were able to channel our efforts and reduce wasted time and resources on channels that weren’t performing well. Overall, this experience taught me the importance of data-driven decision making in PR and tailoring strategies to fit the needs of different audiences.

Metric to measure  

3:37 Targeting specific publications depended on the audience we were trying to reach. We worked with PR agencies and writers who had connections with those publications and catered our content to their interests. For example, when targeting investors, we would pitch publications that they were reading and write bylines that appealed to them with relevant data points. Similarly, for beauty tech, we would target beauty publications. To develop leadership, we built relationships with podcasters and influencers in those spaces. Targeting was not automated, and it required a hands-on approach.   Once we identified the right publications, bylines, and interviews, we collected data to inform the overall strategy direction. Data collection was a critical part of our approach.

Data as solution  

5:22 I think that the biggest problem in my area of expertise, which is really early-stage startups and early, smaller early stage companies, is that you have to do more with less. You have to make sure that you are really efficient in where you’re spending your time and your money. You just don’t have a lot of time to run infinite tests on bylines or headlines or pitches. You don’t have the staff, you don’t have the resources, and you don’t have the time. And if you are doing something big like announcing a new feature or product, you’re limited in what you can do. Using data to measure the early-stage findings and output, and then using that data to steer you correctly, is really critical. For example, where I currently work at GoodTime, last year we did a Hiring Insights Report, and this is an annual report that we produce, and it’s very data-driven. And we put it out to the press and industry publications, the tech world at large, we put it out everywhere, and there are some channels that just don’t perform as well as others. Rather than putting good money after bad, we use whatever time we do have and whatever resources we do have to make sure that we’re focusing on the right channels to get the maximum list, the maximum earned media, the maximum reach. Any time you have a big report or you’re trying to make a big splash, if you don’t have history, making sure that you’re putting it out and paying really close attention to your data, and then letting that data really inform the direction of where you’re going, is critical. Because you just don’t have the time, and you’re also burning time from a trajectory standpoint.   Once you launch something, you only have so much time before it starts to decay. You have to move fast and you have to pay attention to data very closely, especially in those first couple of days.

Important metrics for you  

8:11 I believe that the metrics that are most important to me really depend on the channel that I’m focused on. For instance, if I am interested in seeing how a press release performs, I look at the wire metrics, and see how many people are reading it. As a leader in inbound organic marketing, my goal is to get people to our website, so clicks to site is my number one priority. This is particularly critical for press releases. I also pay attention to the social media reach and impressions. However, I’m really interested in reach and clicks to site. Once people get to our site, I want to know where they’re going and whether they’re just bouncing off our home page or looking at the press page and other blog articles. I try to follow the reader journey, and I’m also interested in who visits our product page. Paying attention to the reader journey is critical to understanding how effective our PR is, which is ultimately its purpose.

PR Communication in Small Startups & Early-Stage Companies  

9:45 I am responsible for content marketing and organic inbound marketing. Depending on what I am working on, whether it’s a data report or a product feature announcement, I will write a press release, blog posts, and potentially involve partners. If it’s a newsworthy announcement, we’ll put it on the wire and pitch bylines and blogs to relevant publications. We’ll also inform our existing customers. The distribution of the announcement depends on the tier of the announcement. If it’s a tier one announcement, we’ll use paid ads, organic posts, and newsletters to customers. Tiered strategy is essential. Historical data can help inform which features are tier one. For example, if we see people are interested in AI technology, we may decide that AI is a tier one product, even if it’s not from a product perspective. My goal is to get people to the website, and data helps inform all the decision-making.

Dream metric  

12:16 If I could, I would love to have access to a full click path of where people are going after they come to our press release and website. Are we tracking everything they consume and seeing when they bounce out? Most early stage PR and companies don’t have access to this kind of data, but it would be great for smaller scale businesses. Having a full picture of the reader journey is everything. Right now, you get bits and pieces and make assumptions, assuming your data is clean and good. But if you have access to all of it, there’s no stopping you. Having a tool that integrates to look at that click path would be really compelling.

Evolution of Marketing, PR, and Communications in next decade

13:36 It’s important to have a robust content strategy that positions your company as a thought leader. Thought leadership is critical in being part of the conversation, whatever it is that your company is in. You have to have executive development to ensure that your CEO or chief product officer is front and center, talking about the mission of your company. It can’t always be about selling products. You have to contribute. One thing that’s valuable in a great content strategy is offering something selfless, like we do at Good Time. When we offer our hiring insights report, we’re not selling Good Time products at all. We don’t even mention the product in the copy at all. It’s not about selling. It’s just selfless. This is a gift to your audience. We want to show you that we know what we’re talking about, and it’s third-party data, not our own platform data. This is data from decision makers like you talking about the problems that keep you up at night, and we’re giving it to you. It helps inform your decision making, and there’s no expectation for you to buy anything. If you’re interested, great. We’re happy to talk to you, but that’s not the point of it. The point is to develop thought leadership. When you combine selfless content with clean, strategic communications, you’re unstoppable. You’re getting thought leadership in front of readers of the Wall Street Journal, influencers in your industry, and on LinkedIn, which has become very noisy in the past few years. But if you’re really coming at it without promoting, it’s attraction versus promotion, and it’s a very different way to attract the right people to your brand. So, I’m a big fan of selfless content.

Role of PR and Communications During Economic Challenges  

16:12 I don’t know that any of us have figured it out entirely. I would say that, in theory, what’s happening with all of the economic headwinds is very similar to the approach that I personally like with selfless content and selfless communications. In that, underneath it all, you’re letting your audience know what’s going on in that zeitgeist. You’re letting people understand, “Here’s what’s really going on, and here’s why you need to know about it.” So, if you’re talking about layoffs in technology, for example, I work in HR tech. And so, my audience, aside from investors, are hiring leaders, and layoffs directly impact hiring leaders and the employees of these tech companies. So yes, we’re talking about performance. Yes, we’re talking about headcount, and doing more with less, and being more efficient, and maybe using tools to be more automated to sort of shore up the delta because your team of 12 is now a team of six and you still have the same amount of work to do. So, having a tool is probably pretty helpful, right? So, yes, we absolutely talk about those things. But then we also talk about, and I’m so glad that we’re talking about these things, we also talk about sort of the human cost. So, we’re talking about burnout, we’re talking about mental health issues. We’re talking about how these layoffs are affecting the culture. And people want to read about this. They want to understand that the way that they feel is the way other people feel too. And that’s when you connect, and people really, again, want to connect with what you’re saying. And that’s really at the heart of communication.

My two cents  

19:18 In summary, to excel in communications, you need to be a skilled storyteller and share stories that are relevant and interesting to your audience. It’s essential to have a deep understanding of your audience and their pain points, which will enable you to connect with them effectively and achieve your desired outcomes and KPIs. While having data and infrastructure is critical for directing your efforts and optimizing your spending, the fundamental key to success is building connections through your communication efforts. Therefore, focus on connecting with your audience by telling the stories that they want to hear.

P.S.-This interview was taken when Cynthia was working with GoodTime.io

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