GETTING THE MIX RIGHT
It’s always nice to have your performance recognised by peers. Winning the CMA ‘PR Agency of the Year’ meant we were the first agency to win this category two years in a row. This gave us pause for thought, and an opportunity to really assess what the key tenets of our success are.
At CIB, we pride ourselves on a press-first approach, with a strong belief in the value of good journalism and its role to filter and verify content. We believe press coverage (whether in print or on-line) adds credibility and trustworthiness to a message and is crucial to positioning a client as an authority in its field.
To this end, it’s vital that our public relations professionals have strong writing skills, excellent journalistic practices and an ability to identify and expand upon industry trends and topics. This helps us to position the firms that we represent as thought-leaders.
The advent of social media and self-publishing means that our role is now more diverse than ever before. When mixed with social media, ‘traditional’ PR outreach becomes even more powerful. CIB therefore provides a fully integrated digital offering, creating supporting online content, for amplification through social media and e-comms.
Copywriting skills are further honed for blogs, gated content and social media channels and this is supported by a dedicated digital analyst, who monitors and provides data and behavioural insights to inform the on-going activity. The teams are also trained in video storyboarding, scriptwriting, interviewing and directing, meaning CIB has a rounded content marketing offer, true to our technical background.
TAKING A STEP BACK
However, whilst CIB has fully embraced the directness and measurability of digital techniques, we have been careful not get too carried away with the digital hype.
Against a backdrop of a growing number of marketing professionals asserting that “print advertising doesn’t work anymore” or “people don’t read the trade press ” (rarely with actual figures to back this up) we have stayed firm in our belief that the marketing mix is still king – and that a brand can’t live on ‘digital’ alone.
Our own research backs this up. We asked 1200 SME installers across nine trades where they learn about new products; and whereas social media did score highly, with 63% citing it as a source of information, over 50% also read the trade press, with the top titles in each sector read by at least 60% of their target market. Wider industry research reflects this too, the last Construction Media Index showed that 93% of architects read a trade magazine, either hard copy or on-line.
With billions of active users, the potential to grow your brand exponentially online of course remains appealing, but it’s important to view digital approaches as a component of a broader strategy and not some sort of ‘silver bullet’ solution to all your marcomms needs.
Reach is just one part of the equation, we also need to understand how well the message has landed. A 2018 report from Ebiquity provides a useful insight. It compared the effectiveness and perceived effectiveness of different forms of marketing. The results actually highlighted that on a number of levels, digital approaches still fall behind more traditional marketing methods.
The study rates different forms of advertising across 12 attributes, comparing how they perform in reality, with how agency and advertising staff perceive them to perform – and it shows that there is a clear disparity between perception and reality.
For one, when it comes to building brand salience, digital marketing approaches lag considerably behind more traditional forms. Neither paid social media, online video or online display rank in the top five most effective forms of marketing for this goal.
It’s a similar story when assessing for return on investment (ROI), although there is a much closer correlation between perception and performance. The research reaffirms other independent sources that digital media often gets too much credit for delivering an impressive ROI versus its actual performance.
To this end, it’s important not to fall into the trap of vanity figures, ask yourself; are 100,000 three second video views on Facebook anywhere near as valuable as even a small percentage of that figure taking the time to read about your brand in a trade publication? And in terms of what you measure, are you measuring the right thing? Likes, comments, shares and video views are all very satisfying – but how about the goal conversions?
Crucially, our research also explored brand re-call across our client base and showed up to 45% of those surveyed had recently read about a client of ours in their trade press – yet significantly less recalled seeing them mentioned on social media. Isn’t it therefore key that we also take into account the target audience’s mindset when evaluating the different channels? If you are seeking out a decision-maker who is educating themselves for business purposes and open to new ideas, surely the trade press is a still a crucial part of the mix?
Grounded in this belief, CIB has therefore stayed true to its core specialism, achieving high levels of good quality coverage for clients in key media; whilst building on our technical copywriting expertise to deliver integrated, multi-platform campaigns that utilise a considered mix of marketing channels, to achieve further reach and engagement. Creating insightful content that aims to both educate and motivate, is the secret to our success.
For more information about CIB, please visit: www.cibcomms.co.uk
Catherine Caplis, Managing Director (Joint) CIB