By Maureen Renzi, vice president - communications
I was recently at a meeting of state CPA society public relations people from across the country. At this meeting we talked about trends in accounting and exchanged marketing and public relations program ideas. Two state societies commented that they worked with local television network affiliates to provide tax tips via Facebook Live. I initially found it astounding that broadcasters who have easy access to the general population would be circumventing their own specialty and turning to Facebook. After giving it some thought, I realized that this was another demonstration of how public relations and consumer outreach has changed, and why it’s important for CPAs to understand how they can benefit from that change.
I recently interviewed Pat Buchanan, a marketing and training director from PMB Marketing, on Growing Professionally in a Digital World, which is a free on-demand product for PICPA members. Our discussion focused on the need for CPAs to be aware of the importance of a robust digital presence to advance their careers, and we explored some tools that are easily accessible to help CPAs succeed.
The PICPA is a great resource for those members who understand consumers expect immediate answers and frequently bypass traditional TV, radio, and newspaper outlets. The Web, particularly Google, has become the resource of choice. This past year, our consumer resources have had more than 217,000 page views, which includes blogs, videos, and Ask a CPA responses. This does not include the additional exposure achieved via Facebook. Like the television stations I mentioned, we also employed Facebook Live this year. A consumer-oriented program on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act garnered 38,000 views. We also produced nine quick videos that pulled in an additional 63,000 views, and consumer blog promotions that reached 46,400 people.
Members can take advantage of the successes we have had in this area with just a minimal amount of effort. A few years ago, we redefined the scope of our traditional Speakers Bureau and expanded its efforts into the digital world. While we continue to use our volunteers to respond to public speaking engagements and media requests, members can also write blogs for us and answer online Ask a CPA questions. The former Speakers Bureau is now called CPA Voice, and members can participate through this volunteer portal as much or as little as their schedule allows.
Some members take a more proactive role and join the CPA Image Enhancement Committee. This committee meets once a year (with two subsequent one-hour conference calls) to discuss the common questions being posed by clients and how that information can be transformed into blog posts, videos, and other online resources that can gain traction above and beyond client discussions. In addition to reviewing what the common questions are, we look at what financial or accounting information consumers are searching for on Google and if we have good answers to those questions.
For CPAs, enhancing your digital profile is a must. Google yourself, and see what comes up. Are there any results? If someone was “meeting” you for the first time via a Google search, would they learn anything of value about you and what you know? Imagine the increased credibility your profile would enjoy if a Google search of you revealed advice that was housed on the PICPA website. Or, if you write for PICPA’s blog CPA Now, you’ll get the benefit of a media strategy that incorporates Google analytics, Google AdWords, and social media promotion. Plus, you can post a link to your blogs on your firm website, which increases your firm’s Google ranking, and you can share your efforts with clients via a newsletter or on your social media channels.
Take advantage of this important member benefit, and get involved in developing these valued and well-accessed resources. Here are three steps to get started:
- Join the CPA Image Enhancement Committee.
- Sign up for CPA Voice and volunteer to write blogs and answer Ask a CPA questions.
- Email me and volunteer to write a blog about a commonly asked question you receive from clients.
By leveraging the power of PICPA’s consumer outreach strategy, this would create a stronger professional presence for you and contribute to your professional growth as you navigate in a digital world.