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October 17, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Filomena Fanelli: Marketing your business? Social media is sweet, but no substitute

Nobody reads the newspaper anymore. Print is dead. Why advertise when you can use social media?

Recently, I was at a conference and had a casual conversation with a small-business owner who has built an admirable enterprise. She proudly relayed to me how she’s used social media and word of mouth to grow her business in two fast years, bypassing advertising and PR along the way.

Does that work? Yes! Does it help that she has a solid business model and a valuable, scarce offering? Yes and yes! Does it mean her business – or others – should write off traditional media outlets now and forever more and just stick to social? I’d argue no.

Sobering stats
While my take is that traditional media still matters – and I’ll explain why shortly – I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some sobering stats about the changes in journalism, both print and broadcast. According to the Pew Research Center, newsroom employment took a 25% hit between 2008 and 2018 and, during that decade-long period, 28,000 reporters, editors, photographers and videographers found themselves out of a job. The most dramatic cuts were at newspapers, where corporate takeovers and fewer pages have become the norm.

Similarly, magazines are looking thinner and there’s less need than ever to call a press conference. Verizon Fios and RNN’s contract ending, and the announcement of a lack of renewal, means that the Fios cable system will now play news from Altice USA’s News 12 in its lower Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Long Island markets. Connecticut, the Bronx, Brooklyn and other parts of the Hudson Valley will follow suit in 2020.

Even with the most exciting news to share, crews are spread far and wide and often can’t make the press events they’d like to, nor show up at pre-set dates and times to do interviews. A novel grand opening or flash-ready photo opportunity is no longer enough.

Investing in PESO
It’s with this full admission of reality – and an acknowledgement that the business owner I talked about earlier on in this piece works her social media connections like a ninja – that I feel compelled to share my professional opinion: there’s still value in making the most of media. Don’t get me wrong, social media is essential for businesses and organizations looking to share messages, gain visibility and earn market share these days. It finds its way into every program my agency has touched in the past few years because it works.

However, for those efforts to soar to another level, I recommend all clients and friends we know to get familiar with the term PESO, which stands for Paid – Earned – Shared – Owned. The catchy acronym, coined by communications expert Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich, crystalizes the concept that the best way to get the word out about who you are, why it matters, how you differ from competitors and more, is to combine these four key media avenues.

Can a business grow and thrive off social media buzz alone? Absolutely, but the possibilities don’t stop there. Strategically boosting social posts, placing ads and sponsoring events are paid tactics that work. Securing news stories that add prestige and heft to one’s position in the market and publishing expert articles sharing thought leadership are earned tactics worth their weight in gold.

Sharing those placements on social media and repurposing great news stories or advertising mentions in newsletters, eblasts or in a company newsroom, all owned tactics, extend the value of these efforts. With all of these ideas combined, a formidable reputation can be built.

Compelling content
What moves the needle most? Sharing information from other reputable, trusted sources! While any business can talk about why it’s the best in market, having that validation come from the outside means it’s more likely to be believed and acted upon.

Reading a human-interest story can connect a would-be donor with a non-profit’s mission and work. Seeing acts of kindness and community giveback coming from a for-profit enterprise can localize a business and help customers relate to it beyond a logo. Or, a profile story on a CEO on the cover of a magazine people see in the supermarket or dentist’s office, or in a well-respected business journal, can catapult recognition overnight, making a mighty big impression and giving that company and its employees something far more exciting to share on their social media feeds.

Since I started this article off with some hard-to-swallow stats, I’d like to share a few uplifting ones. A study from tech PR firm ARPR showed that traffic from earned media made people 56% more likely to register, subscribe or download information and that they spent a third more time on those sites once directed that way.

Sales teams also find news placements helpful when communicating with prospects at all stages of the pipeline and the kind of attention can change both attitudes and actions. It’s true that, as the old adage goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

With that, please continue to get social, but remember that the influence of earned media and the visibility of paid placements can give a business better quality content to share. And, the more you share and the more times a customer or client is touched, the better chance that the message you’re sending their way will be memorable.

 Filomena Fanelli is the CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications Ltd. (prwithimpact.com), an award-winning public relations agency based in NY’s Hudson Valley and serving clients throughout the tristate area. Fanelli can be reached at 845-462-4979 or at filomena@prwithimpact.com.