The power of story, or more frequently referred to as content, is gaining greater prominence as arguably the most powerful tool in sparking what marketers consider the holy grail — word of mouth. And, few would argue that PR has the best content chops in the marketing mix as the most compelling content has solid editorial integrity.
So, it should come as no surprise that 85 per cent of consumers overwhelmingly trust expert third party editorial more than branded content (2014 Neilsen study) and use such content to assess buying decisions. We in PR have been extolling virtues of editorial sound content for decades…this is nothing new to us.
Which brings me to Build, Boom and Echo (BBE). The strategic insight of BBE came from a long-standing lament that we in PR have not explicitly proven how effective we can be in driving business outcomes. That is our primary purpose — be it through proactive programming or reactive brand reputation management — everything we do is to help our clients drive their bottom line business goals.
PR/Communications practitioners have
- Been too preoccupied by outputs, such as impressions, likes and followers rather than fundamental business outcomes, and,
- Deferred a lot of the core integrated strategizing and planning to our agency counterparts.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not a zero sum argument. I fully appreciate and value the remarkable thinking, creative and design chops of my peers in other disciplines. I’m just making a claim that in the age of editorially sound content across all channels that we in PR/Communications have a lot more to offer in leading the integrated planning dialogue. A lot more to offer.
By engaging our clients in a business-centric dialogue rather than just a communications or marketing discussion, we in fact open-up a whole new level of strategic thinking across
- The pre-launch (Build),
- Launch (Boom), and,
- Sustaining the momentum (Echo) cycle.
Build stimulates anticipation, which then delivers a higher quality target audience endorsement (word of mouth) at launch and beyond. And it’s replicable. Be it programming for a mutual fund, a non-profit, a car or a new hue of lipstick, create multichannel programming using editorially sound content across the Build, Boom and Echo cycle and you have a winning business strategy.
So, content is perceived as the “it” marketing platform of the day. But it’s just another term for storytelling and we in PR have been masters of compelling stories for a very long time. Program it into a BBE cycle and you have a potent path to high quality endorsements.
Kenneth Evans is managing partner at APEX Public Relations, as well as its in-house strategist, issues management expert and communications trainer.