PR pros know that generating positive publicity and influencing public sentiment can have profound business benefits. Measurement of public relations has always been a challenge, however, stymieing efforts to connect PR directly to a brand’s top line. However, our audiences demand and consume greater quantities of digital content, the measurement problem is finding answers, and we’re developing a clear picture of the impact PR can have on specific brand initiatives.
Demand generation programs, which are designed to build specific awareness of and interest in a brand’s products or services, are at the beginning of the lead generation process. Strongly aligned with content marketing, demand-gen programs can be significantly improved when integrated PR. In addition to driving revenue, the PR/demand-gen integration also benefits PR: results are measurable and sustainable.
Aligning the PR & demand generation messages
“We believe PR is vital and can help amplify the content strategy, but the content strategy also helps to achieve and amplify the PR strategy,” says Candyce Edelen, CEO of PropelGrowth, a New York area financial services content marketing firm and a strong advocate of aligning public relations with marketing efforts. “All of your marketing should be integrated. Everything should be integrated with the same message across channels, including PR. Clients and prospects will receive the same message and when they do, they’re more likely to remember it.”
Interested in learning more about how PR directly contributes sales? Register now for our free webinar “How to Drive Demand Generation with PR Tactics”
Using key messages consistently across channels is crucial to using PR to drive measurable demand, Edelen says. “The talking points you want to see in press should also be included in every piece of related marketing content, in addition to press releases and executive interviews.”
The non-promotional content created for demand generation programs can also positively impact press coverage, Edelen notes. Thought leadership, research studies and bylines can provide useful background information for busy reporters. It’s especially helpful if your demand generation content tells an interesting story.
Measuring PR’s effect on demand-gen
Driving the audience to act is one piece of the equation. Measuring the effect PR has on demand-gen efforts is another. According to Anthony Hardman, director of public relations for Access Advertising & PR, the information is out there, you just need to find it.
“The world has shifted and you have to understand the sales portion of it — that’s what exectives want to see,” he says. For public relations professionals, this means building discipline around including measurable calls to action in messaging, to engage customers and prospects browsing the digital content the brand has published.
“For B2B, communicators need to use digital media convergence to drive traffic to landing pages around campaigns, and try to get a “microconversion” such as following a link, filling out a form or downloading a report,” he says. “B2Cs need to drive smart refferals. Posting a photo without a link to your e-commerce site won’t be effective.”
Putting effective measurement tools in place is crucial for measuring PR’s effect on demand- and lead-generation. Organizations using some form of marketing automation software, such as Marketo or Hubspot, will have an easier time with the task.
“If you’re using marketing automation, it’s easier,” Hardman notes. “You can track the referral traffic PR generates, and monitor visitor behavior.”
Web site analytics can show the subsequent behavior of the visitors your PR efforts drove to the company’s web site and landing pages, and in many cases, can enable PR teams to track visitor behavior all the way through to the purchase. For smaller organizations, Hardman recommends that PR pros carve out time to understand Google Analytics.
Put the customer first
Edelen and Hardman both agree that ultimately, the customer’s interests have to be served by the messaging.
“We should be aligned around how the customer talks about the problem,” notes Edelyn.
“You have to create content that is useful and interesting to the people you’re trying to reach,” adds Hardman.
The awareness and visibility public relations generates can be measured today in terms of inbound web traffic, lead scores and conversion rates, as well as in the adoption and use of specific language on social channels and search behavior. To learn more about how PR can power demand generation programs, and how to measure the results, tune into our upcoming webinar:
How to Drive Demand Generation with PR Tactics
Date: August 13, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm EST
Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of the ebook Driving Content Discovery. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.