On Wednesday, April 27, Eric Schwartzman, digital marketing consultant and author of The Digital Pivot: Secrets of Online Marketing joined us for our monthly webinar series. In his presentation, Eric shared three steps for making the digital pivot and his sequence for building an owned media presence that will benefit your earned media activities.

The digital pivot

Eric likens the digital pivot to a ballerina performing a pirouette. “The ballerina starts by getting her stability and balance and the digital pivot starts by getting your owned media presence in order,” says Eric. “The first thing a reporter is going to do when you pitch them a story is check your website.”

Step two of the digital pivot is your social media. Eric says it isn’t about having as many followers as possible, but more so about community and engagement. “Journalists are measured by page views as well,” says Eric. “If no one’s engaging with you on social media, it makes it riskier for them to write about you.”

Once those first two steps are complete, the final step is earned media. “If you pitch for earned media, after your owned and shared media are in order, you have the greatest potential to drive growth,” says Eric. If a link is included in an unbiased, impartial third-party article even better. “Referrals from news sites are among the most powerful endorsements,” says Eric. “They have the greatest potential to drive traffic, which is why you need to be ready to convert that traffic.”

The illusion of social media

Another point Eric made during the webinar was about the deceptive nature of social media as a means of driving traffic. “In e-commerce, most brands get just 8% of their traffic from social media,” says Eric. In his opinion, Eric thinks brands are giving social media more attention than it deserves—to their detriment.

“Social’s easier than owned media and everyone wants to be popular,” says Eric. “So, they focus on social media. But the most important point I want to make about is that when you build an audience on Instagram, you’re not building your audience. You are building their audience and they can take it away from you without warning at any time.”

Building your owned media presence

Circular diagram of process for owned media presence from the digital pivot webinar

The sequence for building your owned media presence.

Unlike social media, your website is yours. Eric took webinar attendees through his sequence for building a successful owned media presence. Here’s a high-level overview of the sequence he provided:

  • Gain customer insights through digital analytics
  • Set benchmarks to gauge progress
  • Build conversion funnels
  • Determine search terms for content creation
  • Design a process for producing compelling content
  • Assemble a team to produce elite-level content
  • Repurpose content through email
  • Improve conversion rates by tweaking content

The need for elite-level content is part of the reason Eric thinks PR professionals are in the perfect position to lead the pack on the digital pivot, because there’s a “demand for communicators who understand the difference between editorial and promotional content.”

In a case study, Eric compared two websites, Refinery 29 and a retailer’s content marketing blog. “There’s editorial and promotional content on the [Refinery 29] page, but they’re not mixed. On the content marketing blog there’s no separation between marketing content and editorial content. These things all send a subtle message to us about what’s legit and what’s not.”

Eric shared many more applicable strategies and beneficial tactics during his presentation and the live Q&A afterward. To hear the rest of his insights, watch the webinar free and on-demand.