Why Trust Relations Teamed Up With Three Piece Marketing to Offer Integrated Marketing Solutions
Public relations is often considered the mysterious and difficult to trace stepchild of traditional marketing.
Because a proper approach to PR takes time and the results are not always instantaneous. PR is about building trust and generating third-party credibility and validation in your brand. In a sense, being featured in the press is like having a well-known rock star introduce you on stage, as opposed to introducing yourself in a self-congratulatory way at an open mic—which is more like advertising.
Another way I look at PR is like going to the gym. You don’t see results within your first couple of days, weeks, or even a month. It generally takes a couple of months or longer of consistent training before you notice any changes, and maybe even longer before anyone else sees a difference.
PR often follows a similar timeline, but the gratification of boosting your brand’s credibility is well worth the wait.
Consider this scenario: A CEO walks into a meeting with a key investor who mentions that he or she is impressed with all of the notable press and attention by the media the brand has been receiving. This potential investor is ultimately swayed into investing in the company because of the high-profile media coverage the company has secured. And their recent segment on The Today Show? Well that was icing on the cake for closing the new investor deal, not to mention that it helped generate an unmistakable spike in sales.
While many old school marketers have long accepted that this is “just how PR works” and it cannot be measured with the same precision as other marketing tactics, new marketers are less satisfied with this outdated explanation. They are equally dissatisfied with other classic PR key performance indicators (KPIs) such as total number of placements, total audience reached, key message pull-through and share-of-voice.
PR Agency Trust Relations Partners with Three Piece Marketing to Establish Better Metrics for an Integrated Approach to Marketing
That is why I turned to my friend and longtime PR expert April White, the founder of Trust Relations, to help address this industry-wide, worldwide pain point. Together, we collaborated on developing an integrated approach to marketing, inclusive of PR, that provides synergistic metrics.
The strategies we have developed and implemented are the following:
1.) Search Lighting for Informing Story Narratives
Search lighting — which others often call Search Listening — should be more widely used as the foundation of SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) to uncover what key search terms people are actually using. That is, it works to reveal places where a brand could be found by potential customers, using terms that not only signal intent, but also shed insight into a person’s spot in the purchase cycle. These low-ranking, yet insightful and powerful search terms can inform what story angles a PR team might pitch to reporters, as well as potential topics/themes for contributed articles written by company executives.
When a PR team successfully places stories and bylines in high-domain authority media outlets, it’s ideal that they include keywords and phrases that people search for with intent. In doing so, the longer-term SEO efforts for the brand are bolstered both for domain authority and keyword metrics — especially when the articles link back to the client’s website.
This approach ensures all SEO and PR efforts are working in concert, and also helps marketers demonstrate the tangible and measurable effects of the PR team’s efforts—far beyond the total audience reached through media hits.
2.) Maximizing the Impacts of PR Placements via Paid Social
While a PR team can (and should) pitch story angles to media outlets that its key audiences are most likely to read, listen to or watch, most media outlets are also consumed by many others who fall outside of that target audience. This is why it’s important—in addition to sharing all media placements on the brand’s social media channels organically, as well as on their website and in newsletters, to also repurpose key media hits through a paid social media campaign designed to reach their target market. Not only does this ensure the brand’s key audience is more likely to see a relevant story, which will elevate the brand’s credibility among its target audience, it can also extend the website traffic generated by that article.
3.) Leveraging Vanity URLs in Media Outreach to Aid Google Analytics
Using Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes in PR efforts is not only frowned upon, it can actually damage a PR team’s relationships with reporters who do not take kindly to being viewed or treated as marketing conduits. The Trust Relations team agrees that press should not be treated this way and strongly advises against the use of UTM codes.
Alternatively, our approach is to develop dedicated landing pages for clients that use vanity URLs for key PR campaigns and any major news that maps back to the brand’s website. This allows us to then safely link to these URLs in media pitches and press releases.
Why does this matter? Because then a Google Analytics team can better track the website traffic generated by the PR team and the media placements it secures. This is yet another way to help put a hard measurement edge on the otherwise nebulous art of PR.
4.) Conducting Brand Sentiment Tracking to Verify the Impacts of PR
As mentioned earlier, while many eagerly await that magic wand moment when PR pixie dust creates a new reality for a brand through an unexplainable combination of elbow grease and chance, there is a way to actually measure its impact on brand sentiment. The marketing team can simply conduct a brand awareness and sentiment survey at the outset of the PR campaign and then conduct quarterly, annual or biannual surveys to gauge whether the PR team’s media placements have significantly impacted the target audience’s view of the brand’s credibility, etc.
5.) Leveraging PR to Highlight Where a Brand Needs to Invest More
PR can also highlight where brands need to improve their operations or business activities, to ensure the way they want to be perceived is demonstrable. How? Often brands experience a disconnect between how they want the world to see them and what they are doing to nurture and build that perception. When PR is engrained in the marketing mix, it can help shine a spotlight on these mismatches and ensure the company is actually doing the things it wants to be known for, rather than saying it is embracing something it cannot prove or substantiate with hard facts and examples. Why? It’s simple: reporters demand data or proof and ask hard questions. It’s the PR team’s responsibility to answer them in a meaningful way, on the brand’s behalf.
When PR is fully baked into the marketing mix, instead of viewed as an artistic afterthought or “icing on the cake,” it can become a main driver of the brand’s success, alongside the other marketing disciplines (SEO, advertising, social media, etc). In addition, when paired with the harder-edged metrics of other marketing disciplines, its return on investment is much easier to calculate and track. At that point, the spend on PR becomes simple to justify, even to the most cynical and numbers-driven executives, board members and investors.