Insights From the Events' Four Presenters
I recently had the privilege of representing Fahlgren Mortine at the 2014 IPREX Global Leadership Conference in Boston. This annual event focused on digital topics that are highly relevant to the work we do as marketing and communication professionals every day including, inbound marketing, content strategy, B2B communication, public relations and social measurement. It was such an awesome experience to meet and learn from a group of highly engaging and intelligent individuals from across the IPREX network. We had the opportunity to hear from four knowledgeable (and funny!) industry experts, discuss challenges, opportunities and successes that we face as pubic relations professionals and explore the city of Boston.
And while, regrettably, I cannot recreate the highly entertaining, guided Trolley Tour we took of Boston (think: a city tour led by a very opinionated, very “Boston” native), I can give you the highlights from each of the conference presenters. Ready, set, insights!
Brian Kenny, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Harvard Business School
Emerging Communication Trends
We first heard from the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Harvard Business School, Brian Kenny. Brian’s presentation focused on emerging trends in communication and incorporated some of the sociological science shaping how people and brands interact. As Brian discussed what is changing today in communication (hint: everything, all the time) and what that means for us as communicators when we think about how we engage our audience, I was struck by the overarching emphasis on authenticity. Now more than ever before, a brand needs to be relatable, transparent and personal in order to be relevant with its audience.
What really stuck with me from Brian’s presentation: ME-ification and YOU-tility. These words focus on the idea that everyone is slowly becoming conditioned to expect customized experiences in every aspect of their lives. This is evident in everyday occurrences like selecting your Keurig K-cup of choice, a personalized online shopping experience based on your web history, or using one of thousands of apps that allow you to input personal information and generate a custom answer (e.g. you can find out what to make for dinner with the four ingredients in your fridge). This expectation for highly relevant, personalized information is already transcending coffee selections and web browsing and becoming an expectation across all of our branded interactions. As communicators, we need to be in-tune with how our audiences prefer to receive messages and what it is they are actually interested in hearing, and deliver our messages accordingly.
Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist, Hubspot
Content Strategy: The Role, Power and Future of Inbound Marketing
We also heard from Laura Fitton, HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Evangelist and co-author of “Twitter for Dummies.” She spoke to the attendees about changing from an outbound marketing strategy (pushing your messages/agenda out at your audience), to an inbound one (allowing your messages and agenda to be shaped by your audience). This can be summed up pretty simply – you have to make an effort to build relationships with your target audience and understand what they want or need to be effective.
Laura’s most simplistic tip was, “Never use the ‘RT’ button.” You should always customize your response. If you’re RTing an article that a journalist wrote, thank them before you RT. If you’re sharing a blog post, comment @ the blogger to let them know why you liked it and then share the link. These simple gestures go a long way in building a lasting relationship with those individuals.
Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO, KDPaine & Partners LLC
Metrics and Analytics
Next up, we heard from Katie Delahaye Paine, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Measurement.” Unsurprisingly, Katie covered the topic of measurement in public relations and social media, specifically how to measure your true reach and influence within your target audience. Using very colorful analogies (e.g., “Likes and Followers are like people you meet on an online dating site. You don’t actually know who they are. They could be someone great, or they could be a creepy distant cousin.”), Katie drove home one primary point: As public relations professionals, we need to look beyond impressions and likes to demonstrate our reach and impact. We have to take it a step further and find out which impressions and which followers matter to you, and then begin to build a relationship. Transform the impressions or followers that matter into advocates for your brand. Reading an article or liking a Facebook page is just the first step.
Paul Gillin, Author & Consultant
Social Media in B2B Communication
The final speaker at the conference was Paul Gillin, a former editor in the technology trade space, current business consultant and the author of four books, including “Social Marketing to the Business Customer.” This session, which focused on social media in B2B communications, was especially interesting for me and very close to the work I do every day. Paul discussed how a shift to inbound marketing from the traditional business method of outbound marketing has really impacted the B2B space. Where bottom-up lead generation with multiple points of engagement might have previously been the path to securing B2B leads, today B2B leads are secured via SEO, blogs, shared content, Twitter and word of mouth.
Paul focused on the need to build strong relationships and connections with customers, emphasizing that in many ways, this is even more important in a business to business customer dynamic. Why? A B2B transaction usually involves extensive research, requires a group consensus, and often a significant investment that the customer has to live with for a long time. So while a B2C customer relationship typically ends when a transaction is complete, a B2B transaction marks the beginning of a customer relationship.
One specific example from Paul really stood out to me as an excellent case for a B2B company leveraging inbound, social marketing tactics to reach a narrow audience. Indium Corporation, a premier materials supplier to very specific industries, has a very niche market of customers. They don’t need to reach a lot of people. They need to reach the right people. So they started blogs on the various specific topics related to their products. Through SEO, people searching for those terms were directed to the blogs. Once a user reaches the blog they can ask a question, translate the page into another language and contact the company. This strategy has resulted in a 600 percent jump in leads, most of which are top quality prospects. Of Indium’s approach to blogging, the company’s marketing director said, “Get engineers talking to engineers and get everyone else out of the middle.”
Have questions about the conference, the speakers and/or IPREX? Ask me @JulieLech.