Successful PR Today is a Valuable Tool in the Marketing Mix
4 Minute Read
Before the advent of social media, public relations was the best and only way for fast-growing companies to catch the eye of hungry reporters. You’d broadcast a press release, the media would receive it, and (ideally) the press would write stories. Most think that in this ever-changing age of digital marketing and demand generation, PR is still all about one thing: getting the story. But now, it’s about so much more. The thing is… PR produces content, and content is more important than ever. So successful PR today plays an important role in the modern marketing mix.
Public Relations is in a Different World Today
Public relations used to be solely a corporate communication function, separate from marketing. It was a one-way broadcast permanently set on transmit mode, where you’d pitch your news to reporters and hope to grab their interest.
Now, PR is more than just corporate communications: it’s another valuable tool in the marketing mix. It’s tied into lead gen and demand gen, which means that PR drives revenue. As such, PR today reaps benefits like any other growth marketing asset.
So, with the traditional benefits of awareness and credibility, PR now produces measurable content. And as much as PR’s role in marketing has changed, so has the process. Journalists are no longer the sole audience. The vast numbers of web-enabled content creators are all targets. And the process is more of a dialogue than a one-way transmission.
Let’s dive into what these two points really mean.
The Goal – Unique, Measurable Content
We’ve said it over and over again that compelling, measurable content reigns supreme. And like any other marketing or demand gen asset, public relations produces content that is measurable. It works in demand gen programs to get prospects into the funnel, and to keep them moving through it.
Measure Public Relations Success with Key Metrics
In the old days, there was a lot more “guesstimation” going on. The effectiveness of PR was too nuanced to track with confidence. Today, you can measure your PR efforts in detail using media monitoring tools like Meltwater or Trendkite. PR metrics you should track include:
- Social media amplification
- Share of voice
Finally, don’t forget to set up trackable links to see how customers click through to you. Assets to track include social media posts, guest blogs, and press articles. This is ultra-important because it allows you to correlate press metrics with behavior. For example, you’ll be able to see how a guest blog leads to:
- Web site visits
- Referral traffic
- Domain authority scores
- Email subscribers.
All of these work together to ultimately grow qualified leads and close sales.
Use PR to Create Marketing Campaign Assets
The key to successful PR today is to treat PR as you would any other marketing asset. Even five years ago, getting that piece of press coverage didn’t always yield measurable benefits. But with new marketing and analytics technologies, it all becomes measurable content.
For example, imagine your CEO’s quote is published in an earned media article. Let’s say it’s in Forbes, or an industry trade publication. What would your marketing department do with it? Of course, you’d use it in your social media campaigns. You might want to write a related blog with a link to the story.
Now imagine your company becomes the focus of an earned media article in a major publication. That content can become a golden asset in your demand generation campaigns – and you can prove/disprove its effectiveness with data. So successful PR today is a big driver of revenue as:
- Eyeballs to earned media articles
- Third-party content for campaign use, and
- Repurposing into other campaign assets.
So like other demand generation assets you measure, you need to check PR metrics alongside demand generation. After all, those assets matter, because they’re now all components of the marketing mix.
The Process – Anyone Can Engage
The broadcast approach of days gone by still works for some companies, depending on their size and industry. But even those companies are evolving their PR processes. Joining the dialogue – with media, influencers, and other content creators – produces much more compelling content. And it doesn’t matter who you are. Today, anyone with a content platform can be a target. But this also presents challenges. Remember to stay focused and tailor your PR to potential interested parties.
Everyone is a Storyteller.
The press used to be about the journalists; now it’s about content creators. You don’t have to rely on reporters or the media for exposure. This is huge! Instead of reaching out to just “official” media, you can get third-party coverage from anyone with a platform. Think influencers, bloggers, or even content syndicators. But, but, but… keep your outreach and efforts focused!
Successful PR Today is an Open Conversation.
To get attention, you need a dialogue. Take a definitive stance on a hot-button issue to invite discussion. Don’t be afraid to be opinionated, even controversial at times – within reason.
The point isn’t to scream the loudest about your message. The real reward comes with the discussion that your perspective provokes. With less gatekeeping than ever, anyone can join the conversation. And if you know how to deliver your content, the right targets will have some kind of reaction to it.
In sum, effective PR means understanding what your target content creator is looking for and engaging. It’s no longer enough to throw a message out there and hope the right people see it.
Persistence is Key
Public relations, like marketing, is changing. But it’s never been easy. In fact, successful PR today requires persistence. And that hasn’t changed.
In the sea of available information, it’s harder than ever to get media coverage. If you get a press hit, awesome! You can use that to drive people back to you, or nurture leads and touch existing customers. If you don’t get on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, that’s okay. You’re getting your story out there and laying the groundwork for those big hits that will surely come. Successful PR today is about the journey as much as the destination..
Competition is tough, but don’t get discouraged. If you don’t put yourself out there, nobody will see you. If your story is worth telling, it’s worth telling well – and everybody, media included, loves a good story.