Four reasons why you need PR in 2021

Well, what a year 2020 was.

As we enter a third national lockdown with hopes of improvement by the spring, here are four reasons why 2021 is the year to invest in PR.

1. Because technology is a part of our lives like never before

Stuck at home during the pandemic, many of us are spending more of our lives online. We are using our devices for work, socialising, shopping, exercise and entertainment.

This may have changed how your business connects with customers.

You can no longer meet in person with teachers or carry out live demos of your products. So, many business leaders find themselves asking how to connect with their audience in an authentic way.

One way is to meet your audience where they are: online.

Using digital PR and communications, you can connect with current and prospective customers via your online channels.

You can find the right way to reach parents and teachers, whether it’s through online campaigns, virtual events, blogs or video testimonials.

2. To take advantage of a rise in social media and influencer culture 

If your business isn’t engaging effectively with customers on social media, then your business isn’t properly communicating with customers.

In the last year, all social media apps reported an increase in usage.

The likes of YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, which allow people to create, upload and share videos, have become increasingly popular. Last year, nine in 10 online adults, and almost all older children aged 8 to 15 years, used at least one of these websites and apps, and many watched videos several times a day.

Running integrated campaigns on social media is key to successful business communications.

Choose a theme that relates to your education product, create a key campaign message and be sure to track engagement. Make sure you use the right platform for your campaign and that it’s timely.

Consider partnering with a social media influencer who fits with your brand values and audience. They can help you reach your target audience, build trust, and increase engagement. This could be a blogger, journalist or podcaster. It could be a well-known teacher, edtech expert or education consultant.

Investing in social media will help you connect with current and prospective clients, boost awareness and increase leads.

3. So you can gain your audience’s trust 

Think about what your customers consider When deciding whether to buy your education product or service. Has this changed since the same time last year?

Recognise changes in your customers and their needs. Whether it’s spending power, ways of working, or challenges in education during the pandemic. And allay any fears or concerns.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 88% of us rate ‘trust’ as important or critical when it comes to deciding which brands to buy or use. Out of 8,000 people surveyed in 8 countries in October 2020, ‘trust’ was the third most important purchase criteria, with ‘price’ and ‘quality’ only slightly ahead, regardless of gender, nationality, age or income.

Personal experience matters the most when it comes to building trust. If your business can communicate with clients through friends, family, experts and reviews from trusted sources, then you’ve taken a step in the right direction in helping them to trust you and your business offering.

PR activities like product reviews, case studies, video testimonials and influencer campaigns can all help to strengthen trust among your target audience.

4. To help you manage a PR crisis

Last year was crisis, followed by crisis, followed by crisis.

The coronavirus outbreak, civil unrest and economic downturn.

An impeachment trial, a contested presidential election and a wave of international protests leading to a moment of reckoning on racism.

Not to mention natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods.

If we’ve learnt anything from 2020, it’s to be as prepared as we can be for a crisis. A well-managed crisis can actually win your brand fans rather than lose them, so the third lockdown may be an opportunity to reflect on how you would manage a crisis.

PR crisis planning means having guidelines in place for an emergency or unexpected situation.

How is your company going to react if the lockdown lasts longer than expected? What will your company do if there was a breach of school data? Or if your education software that teachers rely on for online learning has technological issues?

Don’t get caught off guard.

Identify the risks to your education business, rank them in order of seriousness and put a plan in place for each one.

Your crisis plan should outline your response to stakeholders such as customers, employees and the media. It needs to include key messaging for all of your business platforms, including social media. And make sure your spokesperson is media trained.

Check out our ‘cut out and keep’ guide to crisis management here.

Get started

The best time to start planning your PR is now.

Don’t put it off for another day. Who knows what this year has in store!

If you’re ready to start planning your PR for 2021, get in touch today on hello@theinfluencecrowd.co.uk.

Or have a read of our PR planning guide for some more top tips.

 

Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS from Pexels

What is integrated PR – and why can’t you afford to ignore it?

Good PR has the power to shift opinion towards a brand. There’s no doubt that opinion pieces, press articles and blogger recommendations encourage a teacher to consider your product in a way that a heavy-handed sales push won’t.

In fact almost half (47%) of buyers rely on media articles before making a purchase, according to Iliyana Stareva in her book, Inbound PR.

So, traditional PR will do wonders for your coverage, but does it deliver on your overall business goals?

Missed opportunities

Even if the overarching objective of your PR activity is to increase sales of your products – a key business goal – it’s quite possible that objective doesn’t appear on your PR plan.

Your team may be focusing on crafting your message, engaging your audience and getting your name in the right places, which are all great ways to raise the profile of your brand.

But that doesn’t necessarily get more teachers to buy your product.

For that, you need to convert prospective customers into sales. This has traditionally been the job of marketing, and marketing does it well, with its ability to focus on a specific product launch, generate sales leads and measure the impact on the bottom line.

However, marketing tends to concentrate on the product you want to sell.

Education PR reinvented

What’s often missing from the marketing approach is an understanding of how to engage teachers in the long term with your brand and spread the word that your company cares about helping teachers do their jobs.

That’s what PR does well.

If you take the focused and measurable strengths of marketing and blend them with PR’s ability to build an audience’s trust in your brand, you have an awesome combination.

The best of both marketing and PR’s talents, focused on your business goals.

That’s why we’re so excited about integrated PR, because it not only raises awareness of your brand, but can also change the behaviour of your prospective customers, making them more likely to buy your product.

Best of all worlds

Integrated PR makes your content work harder by using multiple channels and marketing techniques to make the biggest impact.

This is the philosophy behind the PESO model, developed by Spin Suck’s founder and CEO, Gini Dietrich. The model underpins integrated PR campaigns that combine Paid, Earned, Shared or social and Owned channels to draw your audience in and achieve tangible results.

Here’s how it works:

  1. An EdTech company writes a research report from a survey it conducted into teaching coding in schools.
  2. The report goes behind a gated area of the website where teachers’ contact details are requested before they can access the report. This generates leads for further marketing.
  3. The PR team writes a series of blogs and articles for the education media using the report content. These articles contain a link back to the report download page on the company’s website, increasing the number of signups and generating more leads.
  4. The team engages the help of influential education bloggers to link to the report via their social media profiles. Teachers see the report being recommended by people they trust.
  5. A social advertising campaign is launched on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter to promote the report.
  6. The internal marketing team posts blogs using the report content on the company’s website to achieve further exposure to teachers.
  7. Months of coverage on social feeds, influencer sites and the education press engages teachers with the brand. There are also hundreds of new email leads from the report download.
  8. The integrated PR campaign improves brand awareness, secures new business leads and provides a return on investment.

PR is changing, and the days of focusing on coverage alone are gone. By blending the best of PR and marketing, integrated PR campaigns can build your reputation, shift opinion towards your brand, and achieve your business goals.

 

To find out how integrated PR can help your business, read our white paper, Influence Schools.

Why teachers won’t open your emails…

You want to let teachers and school leaders know about your great new product, service or event so you’ve written a peach of an email and sent it on its way. But not only do you get scant response, most teachers don’t even open the email at all.

Why is that?

Teachers are just too busy.

They’re not just busy, they are insanely busy.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers were working 9 million extra hours without pay every week according to the TUC.

On a typical day, a teacher will move from classroom to meeting to classroom, answering questions in the corridor as they go. There’s barely time for a cup of coffee. Even if they do get round to seeing your email, there will be a more urgent one from a worried parent or head of year that has to be answered first. By then it’s too late for your carefully crafted message to hit the mark.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Once a teacher gets home and the laptop’s back on, there’s barely a moment to skim through the inbox because it’s time to tackle that pile of essays or look through the agenda for tomorrow’s departmental meeting.

It’s hardly surprising teachers don’t get round to reading marketing emails.

Teachers look for advice from a trusted source

When a teacher eventually does find some quiet time to research resources for teaching maths to intervention groups, your email may not be what comes to mind.

Rather than clicking on your link and booking an online demo, a teacher might prefer to talk to other teachers at similar schools to see what they are using. A quick tweet or a visit to a Facebook group will give them the answer they’re looking for in seconds.

And it will be an answer they will trust.

A busy teacher wants quick and reliable recommendations before they make a buying decision, so they will turn to places where they can find expert advice. Articles in teaching magazines, posts on an education association forum or a product review in a blog or podcast.

…and what you can do about it

The good news is that there are ways to tell teachers about your product or service – and to encourage them to buy it – without wasting time and effort on emails that never get read.

You can reach those busy teachers and become one of the sources that they trust.

  1. Have a clear objective

First, you need to define your business objectives. Be as specific as possible about what you want to achieve. If you are looking to change the opinions of teachers who have never considered your product, you need to define how many people you should aim to reach with your message to shift those opinions.

  1. Understand your audience and know their challenges

Think carefully about how your prospective customer looks for information and what kind of content they consume. If the teacher you’re targeting reads the TES, listens to the EdTech podcast and is active on LinkedIn, take a look at these channels yourself to see what your audience’s trusted sources are.

Speak to your target customers, do some research and find out what challenges they need to solve. Do they want to save time recording pupils’ marks, or inspire reluctant writers to tell stories? Then think about how your product or service will help a teacher solve these problems.

  1. Create your message

Use your knowledge of your audiences to decide what sort of content will hit home. Carry out some keyword research and see what terms teachers are searching for that could be relevant to the solutions you’re offering. This will help you develop your messaging and show teachers your brand understands their challenges and can help solve them.

  1. Choose your channels

Reach out to teachers using a combination of channels. Increase your coverage on social feeds and influencer sites to demonstrate you’re a source that teachers can trust. Write using the language teachers use in your blogs, and show teachers your creative lesson ideas in action by filming a series of short videos.

  1. Measure your results

Keep track of your most successful channels. If you started with a campaign that focuses on social ads on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but only Facebook is getting results, then you can shift your spend across to that channel to ensure you’re getting the best value from your outlay.

The days of reaching teachers by email alone are long gone.

But you can engage even the busiest teacher when they trust your brand to help them. And that’s when you’ll find teachers actively seeking you out for solutions.

To find out more about getting teachers to notice your brand, read our white paper, Influence Schools.

 

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