Top PR & Marketing Trends: Trend One

Top PR & Marketing Trends: Trend One

Loudoun Clear Marketing is pleased to debut a new five-part series of blog posts discussing the most important trends in public relations and marketing.


Part One: The Fading Line Between Marketing & Public Relations

Public relations in 2019 is much different than it was in 2009, and barely resembles the way we did things back in 1999. Today’s PR strategies involve much, much more than drafting press releases and staffing events. Increasingly, marketing services are now demanded of public relations firms.

In 2019, public relations is multi-channel, highly strategized, and aims to deliver a clear message directly to a targeted audience, with or without a traditional media outlet (newspaper, magazine, etc.). Essentially, the techniques of PR are evolving to become more and more like the techniques of business marketing – and Loudoun Clear Marketing is well positioned to guide clients in the effective use of them all.

In times gone by, the only effective way to communicate a brand’s message – whether that brand was a not-for-profit organization or a for-profit multinational conglomerate – was to either 1) earn media hits by convincing reporters to write stories about the company/organization, or 2) buy advertising. The former is the responsibility of Public Relations; the latter is in the domain of Advertising/Marketing.

Nowadays, we have the Internet, websites, social media, YouTube, etc. There are so many more ways a corporation or a charity can get its message out there, in addition to articles and ads. In today’s PR/marketing environment, custom strategies require an “all-of-the-above” mindset – press releases, newspaper articles, blogs, web content, social media posts, public-facing events, etc., all stemming from a single, coherent, consistent message. It’s a concept known as “integrated marketing communications.” There’s a scholarly essay on the subject at https://www.nku.edu/~turney/prclass/readings/mkting2.html.

So what to do? How does an organization ensure its brand conveys the precise message it needs to, with so many different ways to convey that message?


Consistency of your message is paramount, no matter how it’s coming across. From an online ad to a Facebook cover photo, from the slogan on your business cards to the words you use when being interviewed by a reporter, it is crucial that your brand’s message is the same, regardless of communication channel. If your message is distinctive and sets your organization apart, then opportunities for earned media hits are enhanced even more. In this way, marketing and PR literally work together to spread your message and shape your brand. 

You can expect that marketing and PR will continue to meld together in 2019 and the years to come – and you can also expect that companies employing a modern, integrated communications team will benefit the most in this brave new world.

About Loudoun Clear Marketing: LCM was founded in 2002 in Leesburg, Virginia, by Sharon L. Wright, who brings more than 30 years of local, national and international experience in the fields of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. She has established a team of high-performing professionals to serve the PR outreach and strategic marketing needs of clients throughout Loudoun County and Northern Virginia, bringing customization, community connections, and technological know-how to every project.

LCM is heavily involved with a variety of non-profit organizations serving Loudoun, and works closely with for-profit companies to enhance their brand within the NoVA region. Learn more about Loudoun Clear Marketing at LoudounClearMarketing.com. Turn It Up!

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Two

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Two

Part Two: Public Relations Needs To Drive Compelling Content

This is the second blogpost in our five-part series discussing the most important trends in public relations and marketing.

Nowadays, if you’re in the public relations business, you’re in the content marketing business.

Content marketing is an industry term that barely existed 20 years ago. Now, there are courses on it at institutions of higher learning, and some people choose it as a career. Content marketing entails packaging information in an attractive way that induces a desired call-to-action (find out more, make an appointment, give us a call, buy now, etc.) from your target audience – and that’s where the PR part comes in.

The role of a public relations firm has always been (and still is) to understand a client’s distinguishing message(s), identify that client’s target audience, then reach that audience through available channels of communication. Once upon a time, that meant things like press releases, media advisories, earned mentions, and public events.

But the times they are a-changin’. Effective PR today necessitates the creation and distribution of informative, attractive digital content such as:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Podcasts
  • Video productions
  • Photo galleries
  • Website content

…in addition to releases, advisories, articles and events. All these forms of communications outreach – when well strategized and implemented – work together to drive key messages directly at the target audience, resulting in a positive public perception of your company’s or organization’s brand.

But without compelling content to attract them, any outreach efforts could fall flat.

From a public relations perspective, the goal of content marketing is to define the client’s unique sales proposition – what they do better than anyone else – and to establish the client as a thought leader – a go-to source for expertise in their field. In essence, the goal is to rise above the rest. Viral videos, shareable Instagram posts and topical, relevant blogs are effective ways to be seen, heard, and liked.

Communications technology has changed immensely over the past few decades; the way people communicate hasn’t. As is human nature, we’re still attracted to pretty pictures and new experiences – and when we want something, we want it now.

Today’s PR demands creativity and novelty. It demands targeted outreach through social media as well as earned media. It demands messaging that can be posted quickly, seen quickly, and acted upon quickly. Today’s PR demands content marketing.

About Loudoun Clear Marketing: LCM was founded in Leesburg, Virginia, by Sharon L. Wright, who brings more than 30 years of local, national and international experience in the fields of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. She has established a team of high-performing professionals to serve the PR outreach and strategic marketing needs of clients throughout Loudoun County, DC and nationally bringing customization, community connections and technological know-how to every project.

LCM is heavily involved with a variety of non-profit organizations serving Loudoun, and works closely with for-profit companies to enhance their brand within the NoVA region. More about Loudoun Clear Marketing is at LoudounClearMarketing.com. Turn It Up!

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Three

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Three

Part Three: Multi-Channel, Cross-Channel, Omni-Channel: The Best Ways To Build Relationships With Your Target Market

This is the third blogpost in our five-part series discussing the most important trends in public relations and marketing.

If your company needs an effective marketing strategy – and in Northern Virginia’s ultra-competitive business environment, you do – then you absolutely must be multi-channel about it.

This year we are talking more and more with our small business and corporate clients about multi-channel marketing (MCM), also known as cross-channel or omni-channel marketing.

Given the challenges modern companies face, the future growth of your business depends upon your ability to expand the reach of your target market by any means (channels) available. Whether your aim is Loudoun County, the Washington, D.C. region, or National targets, multi-channel marketing (MCM) is the best way to build high-touch, top-of-mind relationships with prospective customers and broadcast to them your most effective message.

But the greatest PR outreach and the most creative marketing efforts are utterly worthless if you can’t deliver that message to your customers through the mediums (channels) they’re looking at – and not just one channel, but multiple.

First let’s define what we mean by “channel.” Channels, in a marketing context, refers to a two-way communication conduit between you (the business) and them (the customers). A channel is any way to convey your offer to your targeted market AND THEN allow the customer to do business with you (make a purchase, make an appointment, make a phone call, make a visit, etc.).

For a for-profit company, examples of marketing channels include your:

  • Storefronts and retail locations
  • Outdoor signs (e.g., billboards)
  • Print advertisements
  • Direct mailers
  • Catalogs
  • Websites
  • Blog Posts
  • Email blasts
  • Newsletters
  • SMS text messages
  • Mobile apps
  • Facebook posts
  • Instagram posts
  • Twitter posts
  • LinkedIn posts and articles
  • YouTube videos
  • TV and radio ads
  • Press releases
  • Podcasts
  • Product packaging
  • Promotions and contests
  • Public-facing events
  • Pop-up stores
  • Employee interactions

Notice the mix of off-line and on-line channels. Your company’s website and Instagram feed are channels – and so is a visit or a phone call to your store or office. From the standpoint of multi-channel marketing and public relations, on-line and off-line are all part of the same mix.

To be multi-channel does not require your company to maintain a presence on every single one (though it wouldn’t be a bad idea!). To be multi-channel means, essentially:

  1. Your brand uses a variety of different platforms to deliver a message to your target audience.
  2. Your message – your brand – is communicated consistently across the channels – same tagline, same color scheme, same offerings, and – most importantly – same call-to-action. Customers receive the same services, information, and pricing regardless of how they choose to interact with your company.

And that’s the point. Your company needs to be multi-channel in its marketing approach precisely because today’s consumers make purchasing decisions in a myriad of different ways. To reach them and maximize your sales, you must be able to communicate your message to them through their preferred channel. Give your customers the power to buy from you on their terms…as long as they buy from you.

In 2019, it’s necessary to be multi-channel in your marketing strategy. That requires unflagging diligence about consistency of your brand’s message, and it requires a PR/marketing firm with the technological and public relations knowledge to implement it.

About Loudoun Clear Marketing: LCM was founded in Leesburg, Virginia, by Sharon L. Wright, who brings more than 30 years of local, national and international experience in the fields of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. She has established a team of high-performing professionals to serve the PR outreach and strategic marketing needs of clients throughout Loudoun, DC and nationally, bringing customization, community connections and technological know-how to every project.

LCM is heavily involved with a variety of non-profit organizations serving Loudoun, and works closely with for-profit companies to enhance their brand within the NoVA region. More about Loudoun Clear Marketing is at LoudounClearMarketing.com. Turn It Up!

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Four

Top Trends In PR & Marketing: Trend Four

Part Four: Influencer Marketing On the Rise

This is the fourth blogpost in our five-part series discussing the most important trends in public relations and marketing.

Over the past few years, a new word has been introduced to the lexicon of marketing and public relations: Influencer.

That word, and associated phrases such as “influencer marketing” and “influencer branding,” has become part of our daily PR jargon – whether we are planning outreach for a non-profit in Loudoun County, a small business in Leesburg or a multinational corporation in Washington, DC. For today’s effective marketing strategies, influencers matter.

Let’s define our terms.

Influencer (noun): A person, usually not a professional journalist, who has cultivated a social-media following (within a particular community or among the general public) sizable enough to warrant influence with that audience.

Influencer marketing (compound noun): An increasingly common outreach technique in which businesses, non-profits and organizations will strategically partner with online influencers to disseminate and share their message in a direct, targeted way.

Now a few points demonstrating why influencer marketing matters:

What is Public Relations? Cutting Through the Confusion.

What is Public Relations? Cutting Through the Confusion.

Over our many years as a Public Relations & Marketing agency serving clients across the country, clients often ask us, “Exactly what is Public Relations (PR)?”

Many people think they know what PR is: working with the media and not much else. They think we call newspaper reporters, TV producers, magazine editors and online influencers, and try to get them to mention our client in a favorable way. In fact, that’s pure Media Relations, which is only one small part of the PR picture. 

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – one of the premier associations for PR professionals – defines PR as, “… a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” PR is about analyzing an audience and crafting a message that resonates – it’s storytelling. We have been proud members of the PRSA for more than two decades and have served in leadership capacities during that time.

How do we tell your unique story? Quite simply, we tell it clearly, concisely, and consistently.  In practice, PR can be many things, including:

Community Relations. The operative word in “public relations” is “public.” You are communicating with people and in this case, the community. PR relates to the public where they live, in their community, and becomes part of their lives. Good community relations are the foundation of a good reputation. 

Media Relations. What makes you different or exciting? Your brand’s story is your unique pitch. If it’s unique enough, it may become newsworthy. Earned local media (i.e., coverage you want but didn’t pay for) is great PR.

Internal CommunicationsJust like it matters what your company says outwardly (to the public) it also matters what your marketing people are saying internally (to each other). Focusing on how you’re talking to your employees matters. Ask yourself: are your employees telling the same story about your company as you are? If not, you might need stronger internal communications.

Digital/Social Media. PR is changing and evolving as the communications world changes and evolves. Today’s modern PR practice embraces social media like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

Event PlanningEvents are a great way to share your mission and celebrate the essentials of who you are as a business. PR professionals can help tell that story through an event. 

Reputation Management. Your reputation can make or break your company. When your reputation is good, people trust you and do business with you. Should your reputation take a hit, the foundation of your business can be destroyed. PR professionals can help tell your story, keeping your reputation positive and trustworthy. And when the hits come – even a small hit can cause your reputation damage – PR storytelling and message management can help repair your reputation. 

Crisis Management. When the unexpected happens, controlling your story is imperative. Being both responsive and proactive are the keys to successfully navigating through a time of crisis and maintaining positive PR.

Public Relations is more than just engaging with the media. And the stakes are much higher than getting a positive story with the local news. PR demands consistency and PR professionals navigate the complexity of the PR world with ease. 

When we get down into the nitty-gritty of PR with our clients, they begin to understand the value of storytelling through PR. They see how communicating a consistent, unique, branded message makes their business stand out in its market. It builds the trust they need to thrive.

Get PR the way it should be. Let the team at Loudoun Clear Marketing provide you with a complimentary consultation on how to put Public Relations to work for your business.

Grand Openings, Galas & Fundraisers

Grand Openings, Galas & Fundraisers

Make the Most of Your Marketing Strategy with LCM Events

“Eat the Frog” Grand Opening Event

Remember ‘Show-and-Tell’? Standing up in front of your classmates, showing them a favorite stuffed animal, or a toy that Santa brought, maybe an “All About Me” poster? 

Show-and-Tell was a great way to make a memorable impact on your friends – and also a great way to make new ones.

That’s how we think of Events at Loudoun Clear Marketing. Events are like Show-and-Tell for companies and organizations; they’re an effective method to increase brand visibility, interact directly with the marketplace, and demonstrate your nonprofit’s worthy cause or your business’ unique sales proposition. Events should seek to reach people and inform them about your organization and inspire them to become your customers. In short, events are a fantastic way to tell your story, advocate for your brand and strategically reach your target market in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

At Loudoun Clear Marketing, we know the value of an event done well – creative planning, risk managing, budgeting, producing, auditing, everything. That’s why we make Event Development, Sponsorship and Production a fundamental component of our tailored, comprehensive Marketing Strategy.

Think of your Marketing Strategy like a baseball diamond. The bases are loaded and ready with social media, digital content, traditional news outlets, and they’re all geared toward making it to the home plate that is your Event. Your Event will be an engaging and interactive experience that gets attention in your market and reinforces your brand’s message and purpose. When your events inspire your customers to remain engaged with your organization, you’ve hit a home run.

Let’s look at one recent example from the Loudoun Clear Marketing portfolio. LCM produced the grand opening celebration for Eat The Frog Fitness’ new Ashburn location. It was spectacular, fun, and a wonderful introduction of the brand to a new market – but more than that, the event was a chance for Eat The Frog Fitness to strengthen its engagement with existing customers.

Build stronger relationships with current clients AND reach a wider market of prospective clients. That’s what Events can do for your Marketing Strategy.

Want a better way to define your brand and present your vision? Through LCM Events, you can SHOW what your organization does and TELL your story to a receptive audience who’s primed to hear it.

Put our experienced Event Development & Production team to work and let us help you hit a home run with a customized, well-rounded, mission-focused Marketing Strategy. Learn more at LoudounClearMarketing.com/eventsTurn it up!