The “How to Become the Best Modern Communicator” series has demonstrated how much the communications field has changed thanks to technology and evolving marketing and public relations strategies.
In this final article of the series, Steve Arentzoff, Cision VP of digital marketing, and Nick Bell, Cision VP of marketing communications, discuss how to upgrade earned media programs to take advantage of the latest processes, data, and technologies. They also explain why integrating earned media marketing more deeply into owned and paid marketing campaigns can deliver dramatic benefits in marketing results and business growth.
A shift in mindset is required
Previous articles in this series
Bell: We’re right on the crest of big changes coming to marcomms. With earned, owned, and paid being continually redefined and repositioned within a company’s comms strategy, it’s imperative brands shift their thinking about how they strategize to deliver measurable and meaningful earned media business impact.
Think about the paid, earned, and owned mix as if it’s a stock portfolio. At regular intervals you should be analyzing your mix, making sure it’s still working for you as well as it should, and rebalancing as needed.
With new tools that measure actual revenue impact as a result of earned media efforts, the PR industry is on the brink of a total revolution. PR pros can share spreadsheets with real business contribution from their campaigns to execs, which helps these early adopters get more budget and more resources to help them go out and run more campaigns. PR pros are quickly learning what their counterparts in digital marketing have known for years: Finance departments are happy to increase investment in marketing programs that can quantify their ROI.
Arentzoff: It’s no secret that consumers trust earned media more than paid or owned. However, most execs have not rebalanced their “portfolios” in years. The time is now to really show what impact earned media can have on a brand’s growth numbers and increase the investment made in earned media, to improve the overall ROI for the marketing media portfolio. This is what we’re seeing modern communicators do, and they’ll be the ones who will rise quickly in our industry.
A win-win for everyone
Bell: True. Now that comms teams are using tools like Cision Impact, they are seeing fewer roadblocks to getting budgets approved. As data and technology are increasingly used in earned media management, campaign design will increasingly be driven by insights, which will further cement earned media as a data-driven, quantifiable marketing discipline. Execs are happy when comms pros can prove business impact and map revenue to their PR campaign efforts. When the results of earned media investments are measurable, it’s easier to ask for more budget.
With new tools that measure actual revenue impact as a result of earned media efforts, the PR industry is on the brink of a total revolution. PR pros are quickly learning what their counterparts in digital marketing have known for years: Finance departments are happy to increase investment in marketing programs that can quantify their ROI.
I recently did a joint presentation with a customer who managed to significantly increase her PR budget as a result of finally proving revenue impact as a result of her earned media efforts. She now can go toe to toe with her paid and owned media counterparts in proving bottom line value. But as she’s seen, it’s not a matter of competition with them – it’s a matter of involving all three media formats to their best advantage in order to meet company objectives. It’s a win-win-win scenario.
Arentzoff: Creating integrated campaigns that fully leverage paid, owned, and earned media is the real opportunity smart CMO’s can unlock. While not every company has organized comms departments within marketing, I suspect this is going to quickly become more common as earned media campaigns – integrated with paid and owned efforts, and leveraging the processes and techniques commonly used in digital marketing – rapidly become key business drivers. PR and marketing staff will work better together when they can set common goals and measure their collective delivery against them. Working from the same playbook in terms of how data is optimized and campaign performance is measured makes marketing team members that much more productive and valuable.
The days of investing money with no real ask for returns are over. In fact, the recent inability of comms teams to demonstrate ROI on their campaigns is why comms teams have increasingly seen their budgets shrink. Execs want to see real results (i.e., how is their investment paying off on their earnings reports) versus vanity metrics. Applying the same data and technology-driven campaign techniques proven by digital marketing into earned, and integrating comms into marketing, will reverse this trend. Only when we can measure results and prove ROI will the attitudes toward these programs change.
You don’t have to go it alone
Arentzoff: The good news is that earned media technology has advanced and leveled the playing field with paid and owned martech solutions. There are great partners to work with (and yes, I might be a little biased).
The days of investing money with no real ask for returns are over. In fact, the recent inability of comms teams to demonstrate ROI on their campaigns is why comms teams have increasingly seen their budgets shrink. Applying the same data and technology-driven campaign techniques proven by digital marketing into earned, and integrating comms into marketing, will reverse this trend.
Cision is at the forefront of offering technology you need to better manage earned media. Organizations like St. Baldrick’s have seen their media mentions skyrocket once they started using Cision. This foundation saw a 78% increase in media impressions from the previous year’s campaign once it leveraged Cision’s media database and distribution network.
Bell: And when Bayer wanted to promote its Alka Rocket Challenge, it turned to Cision, resulting in a press release that was viewed by more than 87 million people. It couldn’t have gotten those results on its own!
With earned media results comes a need to demonstrate business value. Comcast Florida Region has been so successful with data-driven processes that it’s now using Cision Impact to provide even greater value to the rest of the company.
Arentzoff: But Cision isn’t just great for putting a press release in front of more people. We helped the National Association of Realtors really optimize the press releases they were publishing to get even more engagement from them.
And Port of San Diego was able to develop new ways to track productivity and performance, as well as create useful custom reports.
Bell: We could go on and on with examples of how Cision’s earned media technology stack has helped take clients’ communications to a whole new level, but the message here is really to be willing to take advantage of the technology that was designed to make marketing and PR smarter. It’s no longer futuristic. The future is here. If you don’t embrace it, you risk being left behind.
Analyzing your ‘stock portfolio’
- Regularly review your comms strategy to ensure you have the right balance.
- Determine which of earned, owned, or paid is delivering the best results, and put more effort into that area.
- Monitor analytics and insights across all platforms to maximize results.