I am sure I may get some push back on this; hear me out before you put my head in a noose. PR professionals need to adopt the strategies that have made marketing an integral part of modern organizations. PR needs to be a driving force for companies to be successful, but all too often I hear that small to mid-sized companies are reluctant to invest in Public Relations activities because it is too difficult to justify the costs.How can you convince a company to invest more in their PR activities? Here is a tip: by showing a direct correlation between the press coverage you get and the key business objectives that coverage is driving.
While it is good to know that you are getting earned media coverage, what the sentiment of that coverage is and how many people see it or share your news stories; that does not clearly show the impact of PR on the business. The problem with those metrics is that they do not show any relationship to the achievement of key objectives. This means the true impact of your PR efforts on the business is never seen or understood by the executives.
Marketers are great at showing how their efforts directly impact a business. Using closed loop reporting, they can track a prospect from the first time they interact with their marketing and then see every touch point that leads up to a sale. I know that PR’s job is different than marketing and they should not be solely focused on driving sales but, PR pros can learn from marketing's closed loop reporting strategies.
Here are my thoughts on how PR pros can use big data and advanced reporting strategies to their advantage.
Collect All the Data You Can Get Your Hands On
Marketing departments are amazing at integrating systems to collecting troves of data; PR departments should be no different. One of the most effective ways to enhance your PR data is to integrate Google Analytics into your PR reporting. This allows you to go beyond traditional PR metrics to start exploring which publication or news articles are driving traffic to your website and even show you what those visitors are doing once they get there.
Know Your Target Audience
Marketing begins with understanding your various customer profiles. For PR pros, their “customers” are reporters and other media contacts you pitch your stories to. Developing a deep understanding of their interests and what motivates them will allow you to identify the media outlets that will most likely be interested. It also enables you to tailor your messaging so that it resonates with individual reporters. This means you will have higher response rates with less effort.
Set Clear, Measurable Goals for All PR Efforts
Good marketers have specific goals for every campaign. These often include; visits to the website, attendees for a webinar, new contacts added to the database, new clients won, etc. PR pros should think about what results they hope to achieve with every story pitched then identify metrics they can track that will show if they achieved the desired results.
Use Advanced Reporting Software to Do the Heavy Data Lifting
PR professionals are not, by nature, math and Excel gurus. Getting into big PR data can cause all kinds of headaches when attempting to analyze it. Advanced PR reporting software helps make sense of the data you have collected by organizing it into easily digestible PR reports that can be drilled into for further analysis.
Hire Analytical People to Interpret PR Results
Even the best PR reporting software can not interpret results into actionable PR insights. That requires talented and highly analytical people that understand the goals of your PR efforts as well as the media landscape. PR departments would be smart to hire (or leverage from another department) someone that has experience interpreting data to help identify the publications, reporters and stories that are helping to accomplish your PR goals and that are driving business value.
Refine Your PR Strategies and Start From the Top
This is how you close the loop. Use the great PR reports and insightful analysis you have gathered to make smarter decisions on the types of stories to pitch, the publications to pitch to, key media relationships you need to be nurturing and influencers you need to be watching.
Don’t Forget to Brag
Bragging is something marketing departments excel at. If you accomplish this closed loop PR reporting strategy, your PR department will be driving results that make a huge impact on your organization. Make sure to share this with the executive team, so they know that their investment in public relations is paying big dividends!
It is time for PR to start thinking like a marketer.