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View from the PR Summit: Brevity, Micro-Targeting and the Appearance of Disappearance Marketing

July 25, 2019
byJeffrey Davis inPublic Relations, Washington, DC

The new practice of public relations is measured in seconds, many times it’s meant to disappear. And if you’re just using words to communicate you are missing out. Those are a few of the takeaways from the recent PR Summit DC at the National Press Club where I was honored to be among the speakers.

The summit got underway with a reality check by Axios media editor Sara Fischer who shared data showing that all growth in advertising revenue right now is in digital. We know this, but the stats demonstrate TV, radio and print are not doing well. The attention – and budgets – are in social, mobile, video and search. That’s where PR needs to be today. More from Fischer’s presentation:

  • Fifty-nine percent of people share articles on social that they never actually read.
  • When they *do* read, only five percent make it to the bottom of an article.
  • Most people arrive at a website through “side doors” such as social media, but two-thirds will leave before clicking on a single article or post.

While it’s not difficult to reach them with all the options for content delivery, today’s audience is bouncing around, constantly scrolling, easily distracted and they want information quickly. If they’re not finding it, they’re gone. They want it to be authentic and relevant and they want to be entertained, or at least not bored. That’s your challenge, communicators.

Read on for more from the Summit …

Disappearing Act

One reason for the popularity of ephemeral social is the pivot to privacy, Fischer said. In my opinion it’s going to present a challenge to traditional communicators who might not be comfortable funding tactics like an Instagram story that will disappear in 24 hours. However, media and communicators who “get it” will structure stories to be part of the audience’s life with messages that appear throughout the day.

The New Op-ed

Fischer also showed how influencing opinion varies by location. In San Francisco it’s a post on Medium (a good example is the highly publicized Jeff Bezos post there); and in Los Angeles, a billboard is the go-to approach to spur discussion. In D.C. it’s the cable TV shows and in New York it’s the old stand-by, the column in print.

Those First Three Seconds

A social media panel answered the big question about length of social video content, agreeing that it must be under 30 seconds. A Twitter representative recommends 15 seconds as the sweet spot. At six seconds you can get good results, but the first three seconds are the most important of any video.

Weber: Influence Opinion through Content

During the luncheon keynote, the 60-something Larry Weber, Racepoint Global chairman and CEO and founder of global PR agency Weber Shandwick, proved through his comments and experiences that age is no excuse for not understanding or taking part in social media and technology. He is as connected and on top of social and digital as anyone. A few highlights from Weber’s keynote:

  • Weber urged the PR pros to stop with the “marketing” programs and instead structure “engagement programs” that connect with people and align communications with your company’s moral purpose. Know your constituents and how to engage with them and use those short videos since they’re the largest driver of engagement.
  • “Large corporate websites are dead,” Weber said. They should be smaller and built around questions.
  • The best news for the audience of PR pros was his take that “marketing is the influence of opinion through content.” Speaking of influencers, Weber says “fifty people max” control your reputation, so skip the mass distribution tactics and use the social learning tools to discover who they are, where they are and what messages they need to hear.

As for my panel, “What the Explosive Growth of Podcasts Means to You,” a packed room heard the latest from my panel of podcasting experts, (in photo, left to right) Charlie Birney and Brittany Johnson of Podcast Village and George Johnson of the Flack Pack podcast. One takeaway: not all podcasts are meant for public consumption, some are for internal audiences only, such as the series Podcast Village created by Uber just for their drivers.

There’s more to share about the PR Summit DC so check back for Part II where I’ll share details on what my podcast session covered, plus bonus content practicing what we preach: an audio summary featuring the highlights.

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