The industry is all a buzz about their “martech” stack! But once upon a time, marketers were lucky if they had a few spreadsheets to track activities and some design software to make ads. Of course, the rise of the digital era has changed all that and now many organizations employ marketing ops specialists who do nothing but manage the systems marketers now find essential to effectiveness. But what about PR? The digital revolution has had no less of an impact on PR than it did on marketing, so PR pros need to be just as willing to embrace enabling technologies.
If you haven’t yet found a seat at the technology table, a good place to start is by identifying the key components of the PR technology stack. Chances are your marketing team is already using many of them. If so, they’ve managed to justify the necessary investment in the tools they need and you can too if you become proficient in what each type of technology delivers, how it helps move the needle on key performance metrices, and how it integrates with everything else that you have in place.
Here’s a look at the most common parts of the stack:
Marketing Automation Software
Most marketing teams leverage some type of marketing automation software like Hubspot, Marketo, or Pardot to manage prospect contact information, collect new leads, create email campaigns, and analyze the effectiveness of webpages, emails, and calls to action. From a PR prospective, the marketing automation systems is a treasure trove of data about how PR campaigns are performing.
Most marketing teams tag each new prospect with a lead source or marketing campaign so that they can evaluate which programs are most likely to attract people who convert to buyers. PR can be added as a lead source or campaign so that you can track which prospects in the pipeline were driven by or influenced by PR. This lets you talk about the most attention-grabbing PR success metric of all, revenue.
Social Listening Tools
There are a ton of social listening tools out there to help marketers keep a finger on the pulse of their audience. Your team may already use something like Spredfast, Oktopost, or Hootsuite to monitor and post to social media properties. PR should be doing the same thing. Social media is an important channel for finding influencers, amplifying earned media, measuring the success of campaigns, and discovering market impacting news and trends.
Modern marketers are obsessed with search and rightly so. Organic search optimization is a straight path to people who are looking for a product or service like yours right now. Very little is more important so they employee SEO tools like Moz and others to help with tasks like keyword research, link building, site audits, and page optimization insights, and more.
People often overlook the impact that PR can have on SEO. Earned media brings along with it quality backlinks and domain authority. This can improve the results of all of your content. Therefore, it makes sense for PR to leverage SEO tools as well to make smart decisions about message keywords and to make sure that all owned content is properly optimized for search.
Google and Adobe Analytics
Google and Adobe analytics gives marketers insight into the behavior of website visitors. Site traffic is one metric, but they also look for “high value” activities or conversions. A conversion refers to the visitor’s change in status as they move further into the demand waterfall and closer to becoming a customer. For example, someone might convert from a visitor to a lead when they fill out a form. Your marketing team might have a set of goals for each type of conversion.
PR pro can use Google analytics to gain insight into how many of these conversions were driven by PR. If you have an earned media mention that is delivering traffic to the website, for example, you’ll want to know how many of those visitors filled out a form, downloaded content, or became a customer. It will also be useful to know what percentage of your overall traffic is driven by PR related activities. In the best case, your PR analytics software will be integrated with Google or Adobe analytics so that you can get all of this valuable data in one place.
PR Analytics Software
Speaking of PR analytics software, your marketing team might not be using it now, but it is a critical component of a technology stack that works for both marketing and PR. PR analytics software does a number of things to help PR pros determine how well their PR strategy is working and to reformulate the strategy to be even more effective. Media monitoring for related coverage is essential, but it is also important to be able to identify those quality mentions that have the most impact. Integration with marketing automation and website analytics solutions allows for definitive metrics about how PR is impacting the business and finally creates the opportunity to prove ROI.
PR will always be about effective communications and storytelling, but that doesn’t mean the technology and data aspects of the practice can be ignored. PR pros should be just as interested in the solutions that can support their work as their friends in marketing. With all of the right tools in place, it is much easier to be effective and to prove it.