For most companies, if you do not fight for an increase in budget then it will be reduced. PR professionals already suffer from budgets that are much smaller than other departments and any reduction means they cannot invest in technology or growth the way their counterparts in marketing do.
Here are 5 tips for securing your PR budget in 2018 to ensure success.
1. Align PR Outcomes With Company Goals
The first step to increasing your PR budget in 2018 is to understand what the company’s goals are for the year and then map your PR strategy (and spend) to those objectives. Overall company objectives for the year are often broad and vary greatly by organization. Some common themes are: expand into international markets, launch “X” number of new products, complete a re-branding, increase customer retention, grow new business sales, control cost of new business acquisition, etc. The goal is to give the organization a few KPI’s to align their efforts to, not guide the tactical implementation of strategy within each department.
Once you know what data points are important to the c-suite, you can craft a narrative of how PR can help accomplish the objectives, the data points you need to report on to ensure the plan is working and the budget/technology you will need to deliver both the results and the data.
2. Provide Strategic Insights & Actionable Data
PR can provide strategic insights that no other department can because earned media is the most trusted source of information (yes this is still true in today’s world of ‘fake news’). PR is also uniquely positioned to be an unexpected source of both industry and competitive information.
With the right PR software you can provide insight into industry trends, popular topics, competitive plays, key influencers and more. Is your company launching a new product? PR should be center stage by providing competitive benchmarks from similar product launches, historical benchmarks against previous product launches or even best in class benchmarking. Compare your launch to Apple or Tesla, or a local competitor, for example.
PR also has the ability to define and identify key influencers that can be targeted not just with press pitches but also for content pieces, partner marketing and more.
3. Shift Money from Press Release Distribution
The first two tips focus on getting more budget from your organization, this one focuses on optimizing your current spend. It is becoming a commonly accepted truth that the press release is dead (or at least dying). Each press release will cost you $1,500 (at LEAST!); and what did you get for that?
Backlinks that benefit SEO? No, Google has discounted those links and they do not impact search rankings
Featured articles in high quality publications? No, sending a press release will not get a featured article; that takes a targeted approach and lots of effort for a PR pro.
Niche articles from key influencers? No, key influencers are not going to be reading random press releases. You need to identify a key influencer and show the value you can provide them before they will listen. That or pay them. The release will not work.
An email showing that you have sent a press release? Yes, you will be able to say you sent a release. But you will not be able to show any PR metrics for the release, like who actually read it; the actual social amplification and engagement impact; and if it drove traffic to your site.
So why are you still sending press releases when you can shift thousands of dollars to something that is producing results for your team? We go into why the press release has become ineffective and the new strategies you should be using in our blog post "Why Press Releases' Are Hurting Your PR Efforts."
4. Partner with Your Marketing Team
Can’t afford the tools you need? Borrow the strategy behind proving ROI of the marketing tech stack to help prove the value of technology for PR. Here are a few ways you can leverage existing marketing technology for your PR efforts:
Publish press releases to a blog site
As we discussed above, publishing press releases over the wire is one on the lowest ROI activities that a PR pro can participate in. Rather than pay to have your release ignored, post them to your company blog or start a new blog just for your press releases. Your SEO guy will love it because you will be creating high quality on-site content that can be shared and backlinked to. Your PR team can then use links to the press release you have published to your site in their targeted outreach.
Use email outreach software to automate story pitching
Your Sales, Market Development or Sales Development teams are probably using an email outreach program like Hubspot Sales (free version you can use) or Outreach.io that you could leverage for targeted journalist outreach. Start by using a solution like Pinpoint Contacts to find influencers and journalists that care about the topic and audience you are writing about. Then make a list of these influencers and a template of your pitch that is easily customizable.
Email outreach tools like Hubspot Sales will allow you to upload your email pitch template and your list of press contacts then send 1 to 1 personalized emails to them based on the story pitch template. The best part of conducting outreach and pitching this way is that you can track everyone who opens your email and schedule a follow-up call. It can also help you understand which subject lines and messages are getting the most traction.
Partner with your web analytics team
Your web analytics team has a treasure trove of information on who is visiting your site, what they do once they get there and what drove them in the first place. Check out this great presentation on “Web Analytics Vital Role in Communications” to dive deep into the ways PR can leverage this data to prove their ROI and refine their strategy.
5. Prove Earned Media ROI
The final hurdle for any budget increase from the c-suite is, “What will I get for the money I spend?” AKA - what will the ROI of this investment be? Vanity metrics like share of voice and AVE will not prove the ROI of PR. You will need to drill down a level deeper and connect your efforts to the KPI’s the c-suite knows will drive results.
Here are are a few ways to prove the ROI of your PR efforts:
Website Referral Traffic Driven by Earned Media
Website Goal Conversions Driven by Earned Media
PR Attribution: Estimation of all traffic driven by media mentions (no backlink needed)
Deals influenced by earned media
The chart below shows the challenge PR pros are facing when attempting to prove ROI:
Over 68% of PR pros we surveyed say they do not effectively report on the website traffic their PR is driving. Follow these 5 tips to create a data driven PR strategy your executive team wants to invest in!
Your success doesn’t stop once you get the buy-in and budget. You’ll need a way to bolster your momentum and continue to deliver on the results you promised, (and more!)
Turn your plans into action after your budget increase is secured. Request a demo to see how TrendKite can take your PR strategy to the next level.
About the Author
Integrated Communications & Digital Marketing StrategistFollow on Twitter