Every brand has a story to tell, whether your company works wonders, your leaders are visionaries or your brand doesn’t follow trends – it initiates them. PR is one tactic that helps you let the world know it.
Generating awareness and creating demand at the top of the purchasing funnel is key to securing conversions and at the heart of what public relations is all about. But as the art of communication continues to evolve at impressive speed, traditional PR strategies that live in a silo are no longer enough on their own. Rather, PR is just one important tool in an integrated communications strategy that must include a plan for social media, influencers, and digital marketing to grab the interest of consumers and, most importantly, convert.
If your company hasn’t integrated its communications strategy yet, now is the time. Here is how we do it for our clients here at Hawkins International:
Lighting the Fire
The first step Hawkins International takes toward integrating communications is getting our PR, social media, and digital marketing experts to come together to gain a full understanding of our client’s company and its position in the market. We start by debriefing to learn all about the client’s brand, products and services, and the competitive set in which it operates. We discuss the intricacies of a client and each of the channels we know they should be activating to amplify each strategic pillar. Some aspects of a brand don’t require a PR pitch or a social post and this is the moment we establish that foundation as a team. Additionally, unpacking how a company has done PR, social media, and digital media to date by examining every corner and data point it is willing to share gives insight on what is working and what is not. Such data may include search engine optimization (SEO) and website analytics, past advertising reports, user-generated social media, social engagement rates across various platforms, old reports, and more. Similarly, Hawkins International analyzes the PR, social, and digital activity of the company’s competitive set, collecting data from third-party partners to discern what the client and our team are up against.
Fanning the Flames
Analysis complete, Hawkins International puts our own proven PR, social media, and digital marketing strategies to work. Each is crucial to a full-funnel marketing approach for the client to reach consumers at every touch point and drive conversions. While PR, social, and advertising each can present opportunities throughout the path to purchase, the typical journey is the following:
PR is situated at the top of the funnel, with tried-and-true media relations techniques such as press releases, pitch letters, press trips, and desk-sides with editors laying the groundwork for media attention and creating buzz about products and services. Our PR experts’ work results in coverage for all of our clients that presents a crucial introduction to target consumers. Our understanding of both the client and target audience help us spend our time getting impactful coverage that pulls potential consumers into the path towards making a decision for your brand.
Social media is both upper and mid-funnel, presenting consistent content to an audience that has either opted into your content or has a connection via a friend. With social media, brands are able to extend their website and messaging into a less consumer-focused atmosphere where viewers are more likely to be inspired to make a decision. Macro Influencer marketing lives on this level as well, mirroring PR messaging and talking points we might offer to Condé Nast Traveler and Travel+Leisure in a more personal and authentic medium. Similar to traditional publications, influencers spend years curating an engaged audience that seeks their advice on topics and products they enjoy, which the best influencers strategies can leverage to their advantage.
Advertising lives at the bottom of the funnel helping convert the audience that made it further in the purchasing journey with great intent. At this point in the path to purchase, a target consumer has interacted with your brand across multiple channels and would consider themselves aware of you. They are likely on the fence of making a purchase decision and so a strong targeting strategy with advertising across SEM, Google Display remarketing, and paid social will allow you to serve strong calls to action to the consumers likely to convert. Nano and Micro influencers can prove successful as a lower funnel tactic as well. Leveraging smaller, more niche audiences for particular products or services, paired with a limited time offer, can drive leads or conversions directly from an influencer post.
We’ve had tons of success with our integrated communications campaigns. Below are a few examples that have resulted in impressive conversions for our clients:
We’ve worked with Tradewind Aviation since 2015, executing PR strategies that landed the brand coverage in top publications from Forbes, Barron’s, and Robb Report to Condé Nast Traveler and Town and Country. More recently, the Oxford, Connecticut-based market leader in regional air mobility wanted to refresh their social and digital strategies to evolve with their PR approach. Hawkins International’s Digital team worked with Tradewind on developing a stronger social media strategy, offering coaching in necessities such as optimizing content calendars, strategizing on content creation, updating channels with new features, and creating Influencer marketing campaigns. Fine tuning the social strategy would ultimately help fill in stepping stones at the middle of the funnel and set Tradewind up for success as potential bookers made their way down the path to purchase. Recognizing the opportunity to convert this active audience, Hawkins launched an SEM campaign that targeted brand searchers (partially driven by consistent press and increased recognition) and non-branded keywords focusing on those searching for “private flights to” the destinations where Tradewind travels. The campaign also utilized remarketing ads with a strong call-to-action that retargeted site visitors that abandoned a booking or visited multiple website pages. After 3 months of the campaign being active, it had a 16:1 return with over $95k in scheduled flight ticket sales. To ensure Hawkins had multiple points of impact for Tradewind, we also launched a thought leadership campaign across LinkedIn and other relevant platforms, trumpeting President Eric Zipkin and Vice President David Zipkin as experts in private aviation. We coordinated virtual media interviews and fed opportunistic leads through thoughtful and strategic partnerships that positioned the airline as a trusted and reliable brand catering to increased demand for private travel experiences from its target clientele. Beyond impactful conversions, the strategy landed Tradewind a #5 spot on the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice list of best U.S. airlines.
ÀNI Private Resorts
ÀNI Private Resorts has primarily been a PR client over the past year, with our team creating press releases and media pitches that told the story of its four luxurious private resorts, all of which cater exclusively to groups of families and friends who buyout the entire property. While our PR work was a constant success, the Hawkins team saw an opportunity for a more integrated strategy, and enlisted our Digital Director as ÀNI’s Digital Strategic Advisor to coach the brand on social media strategies and work to create a dedicated digital marketing campaign. Timing was everything: Just as Hawkins International’s PR experts landed ÀNI a feature in their top-target, The New York Times, our Digital team launched a new digital ad campaign that, through data provided by a third-party vendor, employed SEM, Display, and Native Advertising that aimed at nurturing high net worth individuals to narrow in on the guest that could afford booking ÀNI . Working together, the campaign resulted in multiple bookings that resulted in an 8:1 ROI.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
It goes without saying that the past year and a half has been challenging for many tourism-related operations in New York City, as the pandemic and resulting lockdown brought visits to a virtual standstill. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, famed for circling Manhattan to offer prime city skyline sightseeing and special events since 1945, was no exception. A longstanding Hawkins International client, Circle Line’s business was supported with press releases, media pitches, and press visits that secured coverage in local consumer publications and some broadcast opportunities. Then came COVID. With travel to New York City severely restricted, Circle Line made the tough decision to temporarily suspend its services. When the company started sailing again in late spring of 2021, it still faced hurdles as the majority of its clientele came from outside the New York metropolitan area, including visitors from across the country and the world who required a flight just to get there. The goalposts moved and now Hawkins International was tasked with breaking the stereotype of Circle Line being a “tourist thing” in an effort to attract New Yorkers instead. Thinking on their feet, the agency’s Digital team employed an influencer marketing strategy to change that perception and show city slickers that a cruise with sights and scenes animated by eloquent and knowledgeable guides was the new cool thing to do. The Digital team tapped seven NYC-based influencers to amplify the message, ranging from micro and macro creators – including notable lifestyle influencer Christine Tran of @tourdelust (411k followers), mommy blogger Brianne Manz of @strollerinthecity (190k followers), and food and travel content creator Christina Lau of @christinalau_ (22.1k followers), among others. All hopped aboard one of Circle Line’s varied cruise offerings and shared first person, personality-infused content showing their experiences in real time. Leveraging a custom booking code for each influencer to share along with their posts offered the added benefits of incentivizing their audiences with discount tickets, while also providing the client a means of tracking conversions and the performance of the collaborations – beyond impressions, engagement, and audience acquisition metrics. A non-negligible amount, in fact, with over $3,000 in sales directly generated from influencer sailings over the course of the 2-month program.
Interested in an integrated communications strategy for your brand? Let’s talk today. Reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and for a limited