“PR is an important part of our content strategy. You can lead with PR, or the PR will follow the development of great content,” Lisa Flynn Namm, director of brand for LBMC, remarked during a conversation with Invest:. She also discussed the elements that go into defining a successful media/brand campaign, the importance of collaboration and the keys to remaining competitive.
What initially got you into public relations?
I grew up in a family of storytellers. Most notably, my father was a career journalist who ultimately became President of USA TODAY. Throughout my childhood, I saw how important it was to make a genuine connection with the public and to engage in meaningful, substantive ways – whether in-person or on the page.
I started my career in healthcare public relations, working with small community hospitals and large healthcare networks over the next decade. Through it all, I had a seat at the table as healthcare marketing evolved. We developed relevant, time-sensitive content for our audience built on the trusted relationships our healthcare heroes crafted with their communities every day in their work. The relationships we established with local and national media were essential in providing relevant community updates and, when needed, communicating in crisis. Though I’ve worked across many industries in the years since, I am grateful that I began my career helping connect people with the care they needed.
How would you define a successful media/brand campaign in today’s climate?
The best media/brand campaigns today are human-centered, connecting your brand values with your target audience in an authentic, relatable way. These first-class campaigns facilitate multiple interactions with customers through a multi-channel, integrated approach, ensuring the brand message is both varied enough to meet customers across multiple platforms, and consistent enough to ensure customers understand the brand clearly when they see it.
A successful campaign both reaches potential users and meaningfully resonates with them often because they focused on five key items:
- Know and engage your audience. Most high-growth brand campaign firms align with data insights and marketing research teams to ensure they truly understand the needs driving customer priorities. Look no further than McDonald’s campaigns catering to late-night sustenance needs, much needed laughter relief, joy of a home-delivery or Patagonia’s use of brand ambassadors and imaging embracing the outdoors lifestyle.
- Show you genuinely care about customer needs. LEGO continuously evaluates their customers’ desire for innovation, including the recent offering of Braille Bricks for visually impaired children. Showing you care about the people you serve inspires brand loyalty.
- Customize your content. Knowing your audience’s pain points allows you to tailor your content to your buyer. B2B providers, like LBMC, who conduct their own industry marketing research can speak specifically to growth roadblocks and strategize on moving beyond those challenges.
- Prioritize visual storytelling. National Geographic is among the very best at using visuals to tell stories on multiple platforms. Visual storytelling can result in a 650% increase in higher engagement when images are featured in content. Dove and Zoom do a great job leveraging user-generated visual content.
- Humanize the brand by partnering with influencers. Influencers must align with your brand values. If they do, influencers can have a powerful impact in your target market, as they humanize your brand and may reach a vast, previously untapped audience. Adidas is constantly evolving in the unique way they use influencers.
What entails developing relationships in the digital world to ensure the companies you work for are getting the exposure they want?
Today’s customers are smart, tech savvy and results oriented. To reach them you must ensure you are meeting them where they are, with the rich client experience they are now expecting. Digital relationships are vital to reach the audiences with genuine messaging, rising above the noise.
In today’s digital-first environment, it’s easier than ever for practitioners to generate powerful publicity. In addition to maintaining your traditional media relationships who are simply expanding coverage to digital, get to know the digital teams of those platforms.
Research the brand buyers and develop relationships on all digital platforms that customers already use. This ensures brand authenticity.
Other digital relationships to explore might include:
- High profile websites that offer opportunities for linking and referencing brand thought leaders’ content in their own popular articles.
- Micro influencers who are more targeted in your clients’ niche industries.
- LinkedIn news sections and industry editors or communities, Twitter, Facebook groups, and the audio-only social platform Clubhouse.
- Production teams for digital newsletters and blogs, video influencers and podcasts seeking experts for guest appearances.
- Certain key brand followers’ and even competitor site teams.
The value of meaningful relationships cannot be overstated. The opportunities are vast in the digital world. But remember to always keep a keen eye on the quality of your content. As Robert Rose says, “Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.”
Ultimately, we have found that providing great content, making it more human and ensuring a social presence, results in digital publicity opportunities coming to us.
In the age of influencers, what is the key to keeping traditional PR competitive?
Evolution and Integration.
There’s no doubt that the rapid adoption of the digital experience has dramatically affected the landscape of PR with consumers truly becoming the drivers. But, at its core, PR is still creating compelling stories for the right audiences; the tools have simply changed. The need for that foundational ability to craft a great story using tried and true PR strategies just needs to be tailored to a digital world.
Today’s most successful public relations professionals have a balanced approach mixing digital with traditional. The high growth firms evolved using the wisdom of traditional PR while embracing savvy and key digital PR strategies- including influencers-to attain a much broader audience and integrating these efforts with other marketing strategies.
PR is an important part of our content strategy. You can lead with PR, or the PR will follow the development of great content. We have been embracing the digital transformation for years, utilizing online news sources, website enhancements, social media, corporate blogs, infographics, animation videos, podcasts, and webinars- often aligning them with press release distribution as various ways to support efforts and generate positive PR. Our online digital manager and I work very closely together on technical SEO, content creation, video design, social media management, as well as expanded efforts for earned media visibility. If you can find an influencer who aligns with your values and brand that helps you reach a new audience, why not use it as one more component in your marketing/PR tool kit?
These same skill sets used in crafting well written content and developing meaningful relationships are still vital today – we are just expanding upon them. Earned media from well-respected long standing media outlets and niche specific industry publications are still of value. Combining it with a wider online strategy and repurposing with other marketing tactics – like visibility in newsletters, proposals, and websites – will further its impact.
There will always be a need for talented strategic thinkers who forge important relationships to cover crisis, brand awareness, reputation management and advocacy-no matter the method you use in reaching them. But those who don’t evolve with their buyers and leverage a more integrated and collaborative effort using enhanced marketing concepts will be left behind.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in accomplishing your day to day?
We made three fundamental changes that helped us overcome the “wasteful time suckers” that really seemed to interrupt our days.
- We started saying NO. We doubled down on being committed to saying no on the front end to requests for tactical busy activity that don’t align with our growth goals. Today, if the request is not impactful and client focused, with a direct line to aligning with our revenue goals, we move to the next item in the queue.
- We started saying YES to developing quick 1-3 slide visual recaps of projects including goals and success rate to help build trust among the c-suite as we educate on the impact of our brand efforts, especially on the digital end.
- I reduced time spent being immediately reactive to my inbox and began knocking out a daily to do list before logging on in the morning, allowing me more time for talent empowerment and development. I became very intentional about creating space for empathy and being kind every day, especially ensuring I am truly present for my talented team members during meetings and calls, pivoting in this new hybrid environment. I’ve found it’s my favorite part of the day.
How important is collaboration with other departments like marketing and communications in making sure a brand or company is front and center for consumers and clients?
It’s vital and non-negotiable to me, especially when working for a business that wants to aggressively grow.
To achieve any growth goals, it is imperative that marketing, communications, and PR teams share a vision for engaging with consumers and clients. Given the rapid rate of change in our world the last few years, internal and external messaging needs to be cohesive. In 2021, consistency and clarity reigns supreme.
In many cases, clarity comes down to structure. Currently, I am the Director of Brand and Public Relations for a nationally recognized consulting firm. In our organization, our Chief Marketing Officer oversees Branding and Public Relations, Marketing, and Growth Teams. We partner closely with our Chief Information Officer on marketing technology and with our Chief People Officer on the Talent Brand. This integrated approach helps us all focus on aligning around company goals, driving growth, and recruiting, as well as taking care of the talent that ultimately ensures an excellent client experience.
Today, prospects and current clients use published thought leadership pieces and expert visibility metrics as key indicators in their buying decision. The brand team develops and implements strategies that drive revenue by building brand awareness, website traffic, impactful events, social media engagement and lead generation. To do this effectively, we rely heavily on the buyer’s journey data provided by these collaborative efforts, allowing us firsthand knowledge on key experts to spotlight which ideas are organically resonating. This ensures we create the best and most successful content possible for our brand.
This relationship-building helps bolster all our marketing, communication, and PR efforts. The more we know about ourselves, the better our brand will be.
For more information, visit: