self-study-at-study_l When I first started working, social media was huge. It was what everyone talked about - and still talks about to some degree of overload. Currently, I wouldn't describe social media as a "trend" but just another tool in the tool belt. Leading digital for our agency, there are two areas in the space that I'm digging my heels in and trying to learn a lot more about. In the PR industry, I think these are two key things to know about for campaign success.

Native Advertising

Wait, isn't that paid media? PR doesn't play in the paid space right? Wrong. It's not that PR is looking more like advertising but that advertising is looking a lot more like PR. Though it has been happening for a while now (including at our group) you'll start to see PR firms spearheading more paid advertising campaigns. Native advertising (or branded content) appears to be a natural fit as a space for public relations firms to lead in the paid space.

Native ads are part of why Tumblr was bought by Yahoo (supposedly...I think it's a good guess), look less spam-like at the moment and don't disrupt the natural process of content consumption. They go with the flow. Public relations professionals are already adept at trying to sell in stories to publications as a practice, this just adds another layer of complexity to accomplishing client goals.

Right now, I'm trying to learn more of the ins and outs of that particular space. I'd love to learn more about when native ads are appropriate and useful and when they aren't. What types of content plays well and what comes across as too "promotional" and not a value-add to the content consumer. I think it's going to become a place where publications and other content providers will have to tread carefully as they work towards garnering more revenue.

As more advertisers begin to play in this space, there will be times when the content quality will be horrible, spam-like or way to overly promotional. Too much airtime to bad content will hurt readership - which would hurt monetization in the long haul. Publications are going to have to balance between hitting revenue targets and still providing adequate value in the eyes of their viewership.

Search Engine Optimization

This isn't really new. Or sexy. Or exciting on the surface. SEO is still extremely important - increasingly so in the PR space.

Influencer marketing and outreach, a key service offering for a lot of agencies, earns its value by the effect it has on long-tail search engine optimization. Think about it. There are so many recommendation engines out there based on your previous activity or what your friends recommend. What if you're trying to pitch something nobody has ever heard of? SEO is the one algorithm that you can win without having to rely on previous activity by your Facebook friends.

You reach out to bloggers, have them review or talk about X product, service or event, and they post links back to your website in their write-up. Eventually, as a PR agency, you either buy your client some ad space or land them a spot on some news show or major publication. The new mass of eyeballs learning about your client still may not have heard of them. So they go to Google to learn more - everyone's default move of learning new info quickly. Thanks to influencers talking about you and increasing your domain authority, you appear at the top of the feed along with the following results being advocates on your behalf.

Pretty cool result that will normally outlive the duration of whatever campaign you're working on.

There's so so much more that goes into SEO that I want to wrap my head around. I feel like I know a lot but the more I dig the more I uncover. I think it's one of the most overlooked areas in the digital space right now but probably the most important. I'm putting my money on it as a key driver of long-term results.

What about you?

What are you trying to learn more about? What piques your interest right now? Any good resources to learn more about the above mentioned topics?

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