Three’s Company: a simple recipe for marketing disruption

A few years ago my mentor, Patrick Ward, published a Facebook post about a piece of content his firm was promoting for a client, and I publicly questioned its news value. Big mistake. His response?

“You still do media relations?”

And so, instead of responding, I listened. It was one of those moments that, as a mentee, you don’t want to ignore, especially coming from a man who was listed amongst Business Insider’s Top-50 PR People that year. He has (er, had) Walt Mossberg, et all, on speed dial, but was now quick to denounce a tactic that until that moment had dominated the wish list of every client, everywhere? A pivot was obviously in order, because he is never wrong.

Media relations tactics don’t have the impact they used to. It’s not even close. Ten years ago a cover story in the New York Times broke servers, a positive review from Walter Mossberg moved mountains of product while social media was, meh. Today, a cover story in the Times is still a huge win, but the resulting web traffic won’t break your site. Mossberg has basically retired and no one will ever fill his massive shoes from an influence standpoint. Social media? How many times did you check up on your client’s Linkedin post today? Without necessarily declaring it, we have all pivoted.

How have you responded to these changes? Are you looking for a simple answer that still gives you the power to, ‘move the needle’ for clients? Consider thinking in thirds. Today, I employ a 33-percent rule with just about every client program, adding built-in flexibility to push those percentages one way or another for customization purposes. What is the 33-percent rule and how do you execute it?

It is a really simple, easy-to-manage recipe:

· 1/3 Content Production/Lead Gen: video, data surveys, eBooks, white papers, blog writing, contributed articles, infographics, landing pages, web content and more. At the end of the day, all that matters is how many potential customers get served something they like and how many of them become actual customers. A well-produced and strategically targeted piece of content (see the video case study below) is a lead generation machine that leads to actual deals.

· 1/3 Social Media: the social media world is vast and includes channels that can power virility that exist outside of Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and Linkedin. I consider the blogging platform Medium a social media play, for example. Nor would I launch a cool consumer product without listing it on Product Hunt. And then there’s Hacker News and Reddit! It’s a virtual smorgasbord full of engagement potential.

· 1/3 Media Relations: it lives! And for good reason. That article about your client you published in the Times, TechCrunch and in some cases, Web Developer News, still carries the weight of appearing as a third-party (three’s company!) endorsement from an independent and influential source. Investors still care about the type of credibility that comes with press coverage. And it still drives general awareness and in some consumer cases (holiday gift guides), still sells product. And let’s not forget, the online link is social media content gold.

Now, mix these three tactics *together with your client until the lumps disappear (A/B testing helps) and then toss them into the production pressure cooker. Once ready for consumption, slice and dice and distribute to your hungry guests. What’s key here is not exactly your team’s cooking skills, but rather the product’s presentation and your chosen delivery method.

Keep in mind; some of your guests might be news-free, or allergic to social media. That’s where your built-in flexibility is key. For those that are news-free, simply double down on the amount of content production or social media tactics you add to the recipe.

* Not only is it a fun, learning experience for all, but having your client’s buy-in every step of the way is a great way to cya if a particular piece of content doesn’t resonate.

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