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Year in Review: How to Use Past PR Coverage to Drive 2019 Strategies

A new year is a perfect reason to revisit your PR strategy. Strategic thinking is critical to successful long-term PR. If you want a bright future for your brand in the new year, look no further than your past.

That's right – now's the time to review last year's PR. You can only make informed decisions for 2019 if you look at your 2018 strategy. Past campaigns can reveal so much about your future strategy. Discover what efforts you should duplicate this year – and note any pitfalls to avoid. 

Building consumers' trust

Before analyzing last year's campaigns, remember your audience. The consumer's brain works in very specific ways, especially online, and consumers are savvier than ever before. A one-and-done approach doesn't work; they need multiple touchpoints with your brand before they buy.

Younger generations, like Gen Z, are all about research. The more they see your product, the better they feel about buying from you. That's why it's so important to have a multitude of PR coverage. The more features you get, the more places consumers will see your brand, which builds trust.

When it comes to your PR strategy, we say that both quality and quantity matter. As you analyze the results of your PR from 2018, remember that it takes more than one good feature to get noticed. 2019 is your year to be everywhere.

With that in mind, here are some tips to review your 2018 PR and create your 2019 PR strategy.

1. Check your analytics.

How are people landing on your website? Don't guess – let analytics do the talking.

Use Google Analytics to find your top sources of referral traffic. Log in and go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium. This should tell you where the bulk of your website traffic came from. Make sure you look at 2018 as a whole, as well as the dates for certain campaigns.

Evaluate which campaigns contributed the most useful traffic to your site. Ditch any efforts that didn't yield an uptick in visits. Note what performed well and make sure you add that to the mix for 2019.

2. Review social engagement.

Social media is a big time investment, so make the most of that time. Go through your social accounts, noting where you saw higher volumes of engagement and shares. Did a media feature get people talking about your brand on social? Great! Try to duplicate that in 2019. You can use social media analytics, like Facebook Insights or Google Analytics, to find what was most successful.

3. Calibrate your customers.

Although it's important to evaluate your campaigns, you also need to evaluate your audience. Has your brand offering changed in the last year? Has your target demographic changed? Even if the demographic is unchanged, have the needs or expectations of your audience changed?

Take this time to evaluate your buyer personas. Compare them to the demographic profiles of those who bought from you last year. Make sure the two jibe. If not, it's back to the drawing board before you plan your 2019 campaigns.

A new year is also the perfect time to implement better customer tracking. Can you attribute a sale to a certain article or press coverage? If not, it's high time you set up a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. A CRM will help you determine exactly where customers come from.

4. Read your reviews.

Reviews are like free advice from your customers. It's foolhardy to ignore these snippets of PR gold.

Comb through your online reviews. Find the ones that are more in-depth and useful. Get the reviewers' permission to share their great stories with your audience. This user-generated content, which often comes with images and video, will help you gain trust through social proof.

5. Evaluate your coverage.

Take a look at your coverage from 2018. How many features did you earn? Did those views result in new business for you? More importantly, did the media coverage make sense for your brand? Was it from an outlet that your audience actually reads?

If not, it's time to fine-tune your journalist outreach. You don't want to spend time promoting your brand to outlets that don't reach your target audience.

Look at all of your content from 2018. Does it match your brand mission, message and audience needs? If not, now's the time to update. Get consistent with your messaging before you drive more traffic to your site in 2019.

The bottom line

Begin the year with a clean slate, learning from last year's campaigns to make adjustments. Measure the impact of your PR every year. This helps you not only improve your long-term campaigns but also make the most of your investment. Over time, you'll refine your PR strategy to bring in even more impressions, engagement and customer loyalty.

Looking to Scale Your Business Faster? Be Smarter With Credit Card Points

Nearly half of small business owners use personal credit cards for business transactions, according to the U.S. Small Business Association. The idea of using a credit card for company purchases isn't bad, but there are several reasons why it should be a company card, not your personal one.

The most obvious reason is the separation of finances. The line of credit for your business may be higher than your personal one, and business-specific terms can make it easier to manage. Racking up massive debt that you can't pay off hurts you, whether it's in your name or your company's; however, in your name, it's much harder to rebound from.

A less obvious reason is the greater ability to profit from rewards points by using several strategic business cards. Thirty-one percent of credit card users don't take advantage of credit card rewards — and they're missing out. Does your business involve a lot of traveling? Earning travel points can save your company tons on airline tickets and accommodations. Prefer driving instead? Choose cards with points toward gas, lodging, and food.

Even straight cash-back rewards can dramatically reduce your company's overhead costs, making it easier for you to scale up at a reasonable but consistent pace. The trick is to know how to diversify cards and points so you can reap the biggest rewards from every dollar you spend.

Credit card points: A useful business tool

Any company that relies heavily on travel can point to it as one of its biggest expenses. That's why travel points are among the most valuable rewards for company credit cards: They can reduce those costs by thousands or tens of thousands of dollars every year because redeemable point values stay relatively fixed.

For example, at any given time of the year, the cost for a round-trip business class plane ticket might fluctuate between a few hundred and a couple thousand dollars. It will cost even more if scheduled last minute. Yet you could redeem the ticket for the same amount of points throughout the year, even if you book it only days in advance.

However, if your business doesn't require you or your employees to travel much, then collecting those points wouldn't be worth it. Instead, you might consider cash-back rewards that you can reinvest or use to buffer other costs. If you travel for work somewhat and aren't sure where your business would benefit most, then ask yourself these questions before you choose:

1. What are my biggest expenses?

Don't assume that traveling is your biggest expense. Do the math and check the numbers twice to be sure. If it is, then you'll typically want to choose business cards that offer the highest points-per-dollar-spent rewards on expenses like airline tickets, baggage fees, hotels and transportation. Use the points to travel comfortably and in style without draining your company's bank account.

2. Could travel points really make a difference?

If travel costs aren't your biggest expense but are enough of one to put a dent in your company's overhead, then plan ahead to accrue just enough travel points to lessen that impact. Once you have enough, you can switch to cards with more profitable benefits, such as cash-back rewards and no annual fees. Or use the excess travel points to take a much-needed vacation.

3. If so, which airlines do I usually choose?

To make the most of those travel points, identify the airports that you're most likely to visit. Major credit card companies often team up with major airports to offer regular business travelers a more enjoyable experience. For instance, the right card at the right airport could grant you complimentary lounge access while you wait, often with a guest at no extra charge.

4. Should I always get cards with transferable points?

The answer to this should always be yes. Transferable points are those you can use at various airlines, hotels, rental car companies and other partners whenever you choose. This means you can make the most of every travel point without being beholden to any specific partnering company, especially if that company devalues its points (which is a common practice throughout the year).

If you're still using a personal credit card to manage some of your business expenses, then that may be a bigger hindrance to your success than you realize. Qualifying for a business credit card may be easier than you think. More important, the points you could accrue from choosing the right one could give your company the boost it needs to scale up to the next level.

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