For the third article of the How to Become the Best Modern Communicator series, Cision’s Steve Arentzoff, VP of digital marketing, and Nick Bell, VP of marketing communications, explore recommended approaches to bring siloed marketing organizations together to fix the disjointed campaign planning that plagues so many organizations. The end goal is to increase data-sharing, planning, and analysis so that earned, owned, and paid media campaigns can become collaborative and stay on process, leading to the best results possible.
Bridging the gap between marketing and PR
Arentzoff: Frankly, there’s no excuse for not integrating marketing and PR campaigns. They so frequently intersect or rely on one another that failing to integrate paid, owned, and earned efforts will invariably cause marketing and comms efforts to fall short of delivering their full benefits. Plus, separating the planning, execution, and measurement systems will only cause replication of effort and make it harder to measure results.
Bell: I agree. There are plenty of marcomms strategies that blend the two disciplines. Let’s say you publish a press release, which falls on the PR team. But the marketing tasks that could support that release would be promoting it on social media, email, and your company blog. Or that press release could be part of a larger integrated marketing campaign.
Also, marketing and PR play well together when it comes to promoting opportunities. For example, if an industry analyst or micro-influencer mentions your brand in an article, that’s huge. Shout it from the rooftops, as well as on your social media profiles and website. These are things brands should be doing without even thinking about it, and they are tasks that fall on both sides of the marketing/PR line.
Arentzoff: Influencer marketing is also one that bridges that gap between PR and marketing. Comms professionals can now access tools that identify your target audience, then intelligently provide recommendations to identify the influencers that best reach that audience. This enables the same type of sophisticated targeting that is commonly used in paid media campaigns to optimize delivery to specific audiences.
Once you identify your target audience and appropriate influencers, you can hold a creative session with PR and marketing teams to formulate campaign ideas. PR can lead the charge when it comes to pitching identified influencers and then marketing would help manage any possible paid component to that relationship. Both teams can then work together on multichannel promotion and measurement.
Marketing and PR play well together when it comes to promoting opportunities. For example, if an industry analyst or micro-influencer mentions your brand in an article, that’s huge. Shout it from the rooftops, as well as on your social media profiles and website.
Earned media revenue attribution can even be measured for PR campaigns, just like paid and owned media revenue attribution commonly measures business impact, revenue contribution, and ROI. This is a missing step that most PR teams still aren’t completing, but the digital teams can assist with data literacy and help their PR counterparts get to where they need to be. It is important to be able to measure business impact from PR and comms programs because this allows the alignment of marketing investment to those activities that help grow the business.
That line between both sides of the house are blurring and I hope one day it’s completely erased, because marketing and PR really go hand-in-hand for most companies.
How measuring earned media has changed
Bell: Especially in PR, we were in the Dark Ages until recently. PR reps mailed — then later emailed — press releases to journalists, kind of like throwing them into a black hole. They’d publish them online, with no clue what it did for the brand.
They might get a media mention for their clients, but beyond pumping their fists in the air and handing over a clip report, there wasn’t a whole lot of tangible value.
Over time, CMOs and CCOs pulled budgets from investments that were unable to show business impact and ROI, which led to PR budgets shrinking. As it became easier for marketers to provide data on campaign performance, PR pros struggled to prove ROI in a way that made execs happy. While metrics like ad value equivalents (AVEs) and share of voice were “nice to see,” they in no clear way mapped business impact, be it earned media revenue numbers, efficiencies gained, or increased audience numbers.
Arentzoff: Having the ability to analyze whether or not earned media programs are working and optimized is a huge advantage. Comms professionals can now go to their bosses and say, “Our brand’s story was published in this publication. The page has gotten 10,000 views in the last two weeks, of which 5,000 of these visitors visited our website. And 50 of them have made purchases.”
Being able to see this is critical for PR and comms pros to be able to justify their impact and budget requests in relation to the rest of the organization. Further, granular data such as firmographics and demographics resulting from campaigns can now be seen and shared with execs and the rest of the marketing team.
Influencer marketing is also one that bridges that gap between PR and marketing. Comms professionals can now access tools that identify your target audience, then intelligently provide recommendations to identify the influencers that best reach that audience.
However, these advancements don’t just benefit PR and comms. Leading edge marketers can amplify their paid and owned campaign results by integrating earned components into their campaigns that are directed and targeted to the same audiences. In fact, paid display advertising can be delivered to the audiences who consumed the earned media campaign content, which opens significant opportunities for targeted campaign delivery.
Best of all, each source of results can be tracked and measured, and the contribution of the earned media can be measured. This data enables PR to be more prescriptive in integrating earned media campaign results directly into campaign planning. The PR team can try a different approach or pitch a new outlet, and quickly see whether that risk paid off or not. There’s no giant leap to take when results are tracked in real time.
How analytics benefit marketing and PR
Arentzoff: We’ve never had the kind of rich data and analytics that we now have access to on both sides of marketing and public relations.
You can assess how much traffic is visiting your website and blog, as well as which specific pages people are visiting and what products they’re buying as a result of your marketing. You can see which of your marketing and PR efforts are bringing traffic to your website. You can measure social media reach, email opens, and digital ad ROI.
Bell: Right, and where PR was lagging in the past, we’re now seeing the early adopters of these new technologies work more closely with their marketing counterparts to identify if there was digital or real-world behavior driven from the brand’s content. Comms pros can now take advantage of AI advancements and new natural language processing technologies – the ability of a computer program to understand and analyze human language as it is spoken – to better understand the sentiment of their media monitoring results, to help them be proactive in messaging creation, campaign planning, and crisis management.
Comms pros can even identify influencers that are already talking about their industry or brand to build better relationships with the right people who are going to help provide the biggest impact. When you know the results you’re getting, you can easily modify your campaign to get even better results. Analytics are key for smart and adaptive marketing and PR planning and strategy.
Let’s consider this data revolution as a democratization of data. Now that PR and comms professionals have the same tools as the marketing folks, the barriers that have divided these teams will come down. Everyone is benchmarking and speaking the same language and can better work together for the benefit of all.
Universal Analytics to Benchmark
- Earned media revenue attribution
- Firmographic and demographic data insights
- Website traffic, including where it comes from and conversions
- Social media reach, engagement, links clicked or shared
- Email subscribers, open rates, and clicks
- Earned media, including visits to the published article and clicks it sends you
- Multi-touch attribution — what path did customers take before eventually converting and how often did that include earned media.