Tag Archives: campaign management

Is a Paid Placement Right for Your Campaign?

There’s been a lot of buzz in the communications industry around the idea of using paid placements (also referred to as “strategic placements),  yet misconceptions persist about what this term actually means and when they are appropriate to use.  In a nutshell, a strategic placement is a 30 or 60 second stand- alone video in a newsbreak format that is used to provide news content during breaks in scheduled programming for TV or radio.  Video produced from B-roll and Satellite Media Tours (SMTs) as well as Radio Media Tours (RMTs) can also be repurposed into scripted packages for strategic placement on national or local TV and radio. 

When to use a paid placement? 

To increase the audience for a broadcast campaign: Impressions are often king in the broadcast world, but in some cases, satellite or radio media tours (“SMTs” and “RMTs” respectively) may not  garner the number of impressions that clients often like to see.  To increase the return on the investment in broadcast production, we always advise employing a multi-faceted approach so that content can be seen and heard on a variety of mediums.   Paid placements can often help get air time on cable and network affiliates that are often unattainable otherwise, and can be a great way to increase your audience ‘footprint.’  For example, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, Headline News, and The Daily Buzz are just a handful of typically coveted networks where content can be easily placed with the paid approach. 

To Target Local Markets or Demographics: Some initiatives have a local focus, with coverage wanted regionally, for example a bank that has only east coast branches. By utilizing paid placement, content can be placed in specific cities, states and/or on major national networks – adding a niche targeting approach.  Add a statewide radio distribution and impressions skyrocket.

Targeting a specific demographic? A cluster of cable outlets can be selected to further refine goals.  For example, content geared toward women can be placed on ABC Family and Lifetime, video devoted to entertainment can be placed on Comedy Central and Discovery, and Lifestyle related content can be placed on networks such as Food Network and HGTV.


Broadcast paid placements can be a great addition to add to any multi-tiered broadcast approach. In addition to helping to boost impressions,  paid placements can be used to target specific cities, states and regions and deliver  the message to the right demographic.

Want to explore new ways to tell your brand’s story and to reach new audiences?  We’d be happy to chat with you about creating a video or a designing multimedia distribution strategy that will increase discovery of your brand’s messages.  We’d love to hear your ideas, and help turn them into reality. Contact us for more information.

Author Risa Chuang is Director of Media Relations for MultiVu, a PR Newswire company.

Finding the Link Between Content & Conversion

There’s a lot of discussion these days about the role of content in the public relations and marketing strategies, and much of it is focused on the awareness-generating and attention-acquiring benefits a stream of content can produce.

However, as an organization builds out a content strategy, it’s also important to consider the role the published articles, case studies, press releases, blog posts, white papers, etc., work together to create a pathway for readers that ends (ideally) in conversion.

“Content creates the context for consumption,” noted Ninan Chacko, PR Newswire’s CEO, at the Content Marketing Summit hosted by the Business Development Institute last week. “Earned & paid media historically have been separate silos, but that’s changing.  Social media has brought the two together.  Audiences don’t live in the paid or the earned environments. The challenge is now how to craft content that lives across different media.”

The challenge for communicators, he went on to say, is in understanding the resulting metrics, and how engagement activities, such as social interactions, contribute ultimately to conversion.

“Ninan made a great case for engagement as a metric. While retweets, likes, and other signs of engagement might not directly translate to leads, they are invaluable when it comes to measuring the success of your efforts,”  wrote blogger John Brhel of Social Eddy, in his own recap of the event titled “Top 5 Quotes from Content Marketing Summit 2013.

Here is Ninan’s presentation deck, which illustrates the connection between content and customer conversion: 

An SEO Expert’s View of Public Relations

The pyramid of media influence.

The pyramid of media influence.

We spend a lot of time in the PR space thinking about how to optimize our press releases for maximum search engine visibility, and I’m one of the purveyors of that sort of information.  Ask me about  press release headline writing best practices, and be prepared to strap in for at least thirty minutes while I babble happily about keyword placement, headline length, reader drop off rates and how these factors can ultimately impact the results your message generates.

But let’s face it: fine-tuning press releases and other  content individually, piece by piece, for max visibility is a bit shortsighted, because it ignores some bigger opportunities – specifically, the opportunity to help the brand’s web site (which has a lot more gravitational pull than the odd press release, blog post, backgrounder or tweet) build rank and visibility.

How PR can positively impact SEO

In reality, a good PR campaign that results in media pick up, relevant industry blog posts and social buzz can have a profoundly positive effect on crucial web site rankings.  And those web site rankings play an important part in lead generation — and ultimately sales.

“A few years ago, I launched a website called FindHow, and we gave it a full-court press from a PR standpoint. In the first month of FindHow’s existence, it surpassed 15,000 unique visitors and eventually grew to around the 100,000 uniques (editor’s note: unique web site visitors) mark. After about five months, the Public Relations effort had resulted in a total of around 18,000 links to the site, primarily because of prominent media mentions that boosted the site’s credibility and aided word of mouth.” – Ted Ives,Public Relations for SEO.”

The quote above is an SEO expert’s take on PR results.   In my many years of experience with PR Newswire (eighteen, to be exact), I know that plugging PR into the brand’s SEO strategy is something many – heck, most – public relations departments overlook.    In most cases I’ve seen thinking about SEO starts and ends with the optimization of a particular message, with the goal of getting the press release itself to rank in search engines.  In reality, we should be thinking about how to help our brands’ web sites rank, not individual messages.    PR sells itself short when the focus on results is too narrow.

Integrating PR & SEO

To get a good look at how the results a good PR campaign can integrate (and improve) a brand’s SEO program, you can’t do better than to read the first of the series on PR and SEO just published on Search Engine Land.  Author Ted Ives (@tedives) (the aforementioned SEO expert) lays out a new view of PR in the series,  offering perspective on how brands can more fully capitalize upon media pick up and other public relations outcomes to effect business outcomes.

Results & effectiveness – the benefits of integrating PR & SEO programs

Understanding the follow on benefits of press release distribution and media mentions in the context of a brand’s web site and SEO initiatives can do a couple things for the PR department.  First, as you can see from the paragraph above, the SEO guys have measurement down.   They know where traffic comes from; they know which keywords have the best conversion rates.  If measuring results is a bugaboo for your PR department, cozy up your SEO team.   Chances are good they already know a surprising amount about the results your PR campaigns generated.

Secondly, integrating with the brand’s SEO program can lend real power to the messaging the PR department creates.  Keyword research is another facet of audience behavior that can (and should) inform the content strategy.  In addition to simply using the language of your audience, paying attention to larger keyword trends and usage patterns reveals what your marketplace actually cares about.  For a content creator, this information is golden.

The other two parts of the series focus on targeting and pitching journalists, offering good, solid media relations advice, tuned for today’s newsroom realities, and are also worth reading.

So next time you’re drafting a PR campaign, don’t limit your goals to simply generating reads for a press release or media placements. Working with the SEO team can increase the measurable results the PR team generates, and the business impact it delivers.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik .

Using Multiple Communications Channels to Increase Message Exposure

Multichannel effectsIf there’s one thing I’ve learned during my long tenure with PR Newswire, it’s this: distribution matters.  However, the ways brands distribute messages has evolved.  It’s no longer an exercise in pushing a message for audiences to consume.   Content we “push” is now fine-tuned to audience interests in terms of subject, and we take care to build in links and multimedia to more fully explain, engage and inform.  We’re also relying heavily on the “pull” good content generates over time, as audience share content with their peers and social networks, and as the traffic and interest the content has generated morphs into a signal recognized by search engines.  Distribution is no longer one-way in nature.  It’s more like a traffic circle.

It’s important to keep all of this in mind as your finger is hovering over the button on your computer that will send, post, publish or share a piece of content, because if you’re relying on a single channel, you’re selling your message short.

Derived and aggregated content – the starting points

Distributing content across multiple channels can be simple or more complex, but there’s a common element – multi-channel distribution is based upon content that is either derived from the core message, or aggregated to support it.

Here’s an example. 

content mnrLast week, PR Newswire issued a blog post highlighting some of the top performing press releases for 2012.  However, we didn’t stop there.   Instead, we created several more pieces of content to illustrate and convey the message. Here are all of the assets – and channels – we used to promote this messaging.

Distribution is the special sauce:

We could have just stuck with the original blog post.  But by adding the video illustrating the top releases, including links to the releases within the post, deriving from that post the multimedia news release – and then distributing all of these elements via our press release and syndication networks, plus social channels –resulted in the message garnering almost 15 times the average number of views one of our blog posts usually generates.

Why does this approach work?

There are a host of reasons why the multi-channel approach to content publication and distribution works.

  • More channels, more eyes.   Sharing and distributing different content elements across channels ultimately reaches larger audiences.   The opportunity increases exponentially when you derive content from your original message.  For example, the blog post, video and MNR we did for “Content We Love” provided me with separate opportunities to tweet, share and post content related to our core message.
  • The opportunity for relevance.  Different channels serve different interests.  YouTube is a great place to demonstrate key points of your message visually, especially if you’re showing examples or how-to tips.  SlideShare, on the other hand, has a lot of utility for those doing research, and can be a great way to showcase data that won’t necessarily translate well to video.  The point is, keep each channel’s utility in mind and fine tune your content accordingly.
  • Search.  Search engines are obviously crucial divers of visibility.  And by creating multiple content elements, you give search engines more things to index and serve up to interested searchers.  It’s also worth noting that YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world, and offers important search benefits in its own right.

I’ll be digging into the topic of leveraging content across channels to deliver business results on a webinar co-hosted with the Online Marketing Summit folks next week, and then again in person at the OMS in Feburary, where I’ll be hosting a workshop.  Here are the details:

Webinar (January 23): Leveraging Converged Media’s Impact on Content Marketing

Workshop: Driving Qualified Audiences Into the Funnel Using Rich Media and Distribution Networks 

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.  




An Emerging PR Trend: Content PR Strategy & Tactics

Content PR.  You’ve probably seen this phrase bouncing around the blogosphere recently, and no wonder, it’s an emerging PR trend for this year.  But what is content PR?  To discover the answer, we need to look to marketing first.

ContentPR-infographic-loResOver the last couple years, we’ve seen a significant change in marketing tactics, and the subsequent rise of inbound marketing.   Driven by generating interest rather than causing interruption, inbound marketing tactics, including content marketing, draw the audience to the brand, rather than pushing messaging out and hoping that someone pays attention.   Doing this requires a brand to be in tune with its audience, know what they’re talking about (and where the talking is occurring) and the creation of content that speaks to the audience’s interests.

The Genesis of Content PR

Within that last sentence you see the genesis of content PR.    More than any other department, public relations is dialed into the sentiments of their brand’s constituents.  And knowing where influence and conversations are to be found is PR’s stock in trade.  And finally, PR pros are an organization’s master storytellers.  In a word, they do content.

What is Content PR?

Content PR is the extension of content marketing principles applied to PR.  The core content marketing principles include:

  • Understanding audience interests,
  • Creation of relevant and compelling content
  • Deployment of that content in various formats and across different channels in order to reach audiences where they live

New strategy & tactics

In practice, content PR requires some shifts in the traditional PR mindset and tactics.

From episodic campaigns to ongoing presence.   It can be tough to get away from the traditional idea of a campaign.  But as we all know, audience interest isn’t dictated by campaigns.   While campaigns do a great job of building interest, opportunities are lost when brands don’t serve the organically occurring interest that develops when a person has a gift to buy, is researching charities related to a new cause, or is researching vendors or a project at work.   Content PR is crucial to developing a plugged-in brand presence that understands – and delivers – what constituents are seeking, and what they need to make related decisions.

Reflecting the audience point of view in messaging.   While there’s still a place for news announcements of record, savvy brands are changing their messaging to reflect the audience point of view.   Rather than simply issuing a message from the ivory tower to the masses, brands today are communicating in the context of their customers and other constituents, building audience values into their messaging.   A brand that’s launching new software, for example, might develop content supporting the launch around related customer challenges, bringing in expert advice about dealing with a particular issue, and work in details about the new software’s capability within that context.  So instead of “NewSoftware from XYZ Corp. Offers Improved System Performance,” the headline might read “5 Ways to Improve System Performance.”  And instead of a simple text press release, the content might include an array of elements, including an infographic, slides or a short video with an expert.

Measuring pull, not push.   While we’ve been talking about “push vs. pull” communications for years now, fully embracing a “pull” mentality is crucial for the successful practice of content PR – and measuring it.  How do you measure pull?   While metrics will vary for each organization, here are some ideas:

  • Search rank, and inbound search terms used to find brand content.  A dive into website analytics tremendously revealing.  A look at the search terms people used to find your web site shows you pretty clearly 1) the terms for which your content ranks in search engines and 2) the terms your audience is using to get to your web site.  If those terms don’t jibe with the larger PR strategy, a focused content PR effort can help.
  • Traffic to specific content – and the resulting activity. Measuring the visits to specific pages is one obvious measure.  But take it a step further, and look at what happens next.  Are people sharing the content published on social networks?  Are they clicking on the links embedded in the content and taking the next step (see Outcomes, below.)   Looking deeper into page traffic will reveal whether or not your audience is truly engaging with the content your brand has published.

Collaboration.  More than ever, integration with marketing is crucial if content PR is going to work.  Key challenges that collaboration will address include developing a consistent and coherent experience for your audiences.    It’s also important to realize that one piece of content can trigger a variety of outcomes, and brand need to have their ducks in a row to capture all of the potential results.  For example,  in addition to generating interest among media and bloggers,  the direct connection the audience has with the content brings with it the opportunity for the brand to move prospects ahead in the decision process.   PR and marketing should collaborate to ensure the content is accurately mapped to the customer decision process, and appropriate next steps are offered to readers. Designed to further inform – and qualify – your brand’s prospects, next steps can include access to more specific information (such as case studies), tips for doing something better and access to staff.

A hallmark of content marketing is creating content that can ultimately represent the brand’s voice and POV within the timelines of an individual person’s search for information or buying process.  Content PR shapes opinion contextually.  When coordinated with the brand’s marketing efforts, content PR shapes opinion generates lasting visibility and delivers measurable, top line business results.

Join us for the upcoming webinar on Wednesday, January 23, 2013:  Leveraging Converged Media’s Impact on Content Marketing

Additional resources:

White paper:  Maximizing Content Marketing – A 6 Step Plan for Agile Engagement

4 Ways to Attract Qualified Audience With Content

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.   See her in person at the upcoming Online Marketing Summit in February, where she’s hosting a workshop on Driving Qualified Audiences Into the Funnel Using Rich Media and Distribution Networks.

PR Trends for 2013: Outcomes & Tactics

google trends prYesterday we discussed the evolving media environment, and some of the emerging PR trends that will impact our business in 2013.  Today, we’re going to drill down into more tactical PR trends, and discuss how the practice of PR is changing on a fundamental level.

Evolving outcomes

The outcomes expected of PR are evolving, and that’s where we’ll start today.   Traditionally, PR outcomes have been campaign based, and in many cases, have been measured fairly narrowly, in terms of media pick up and AVEs.  Tying PR output to the business bottom line has long been a challenge.   It’s a different story today, however, and it requires an expanded view of measurement across the enterprise.

“What we measure is part of the puzzle,” notes Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance PR and author of Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional. “When we look at the metrics we capture, we have to be working with other business areas to gauge the full impact.  The pieces connect. We’re not in a silo.  We have to make correlations between the data and the outcomes.”

So what are some of the outcomes we’re seeing PR departments charged with delivering?

Reputation & mindshare:  In today’s connected business and social environments, PR is charged with developing reputation and generating lasting mindshare.

Example:  Today’s buyers (both consumer and B2B) conduct extensive research before contacting vendors. If a brand doesn’t have a good reputation, positive reviews and strong search and social visibility, it will be eliminated from consideration well before the prospect gets serious about buying.  Instead of building episodic awareness, the new imperative for PR is to develop ongoing brand visibility and a strong reputation.

Related reading:

Lead generation, web site traffic, conversion rates:  Yes, you’re still reading a post about public relations.  One of the strongest emerging trends is the requirement for PR to deliver hard, measurable business results, whether that’s measured in an increase in web site traffic, or leads generated.    Delivering results that hit the top line, while formerly the domain of marketing, is increasingly expected of PR departments, and to PR’s benefit (in my mind, at least.)   Information drives many purchasing decisions today, and it’s only natural that the department responsible for conveying much of an organization’s information plays a strong role in influencing customer decisions.   However, doing that requires PR to become much attuned to the audiences, and to develop messages within that context.

“We have to ask how we differentiate ourselves,” says Shana Harris, COO of the Warchawski Agency.  “What are our goals, and what are the audience’s pain points? We have to put ourselves in our target audience’s shoes, understand the target audience and understand the experience we want to create for them.”

Related reading:  Demand More from Your Press Releases

Practical tactics

It goes without saying that PR tactics are evolving in tandem with shifts in the media, information and attention markets.   Emerging trends that are gathering steam as we head into 2013 include:

  • “Content PR”:  You’ve undoubtedly heard of content marketing – the practice of deploying content designed to interest, educate and inform an audience, in order to attract them to the brand and to influence decisions in the brand’s favor.   Many of the tactics adopted by content marketers are pulled straight from PR’s playbook, but the way content marketers are using them should awaken PR pros to the opportunities in their midst.

Specifically, content marketers focus on developing content that serves the audience, answering their questions and giving them the information and education they are seeking.    Conversely, PR has traditionally spent a lot of its time crafting the message the brand wants the marketplace to hear.  “Content PR” is an emerging trend that combines PR’s access to influencers and its traditional role as the storytellers in chief for the organization with the audience-focused approach advocated by content marketers.    The most effective PR departments are evolving their message strategy, developing stories their respective marketplaces will eagerly devour (and like, post, tweet and share.)

Related reading: Content marketing case study: It sure looks like PR to me

Communicating visually:  We’ve been talking about multimedia here at PR Newswire for years: as previously discussed on this blog, we know empirically that press releases that include some sort of visual (image, infographic, video, etc.) generate better results than their plain-text brethren.  At this point, it’s probably safe to say that multimedia communications are less of a trend, and more of an imperative, for communicators today.  However, the mechanisms by which our audiences access, ingest and share the images, resources and video we publish continue to multiply.    Developing the ability and means to communicate key messages visually is an important skill required of today’s PR pros, and an investment required of PR departments.

Related reading: Press Releases With Multimedia Get Better Results

In just a few days, I’ll be celebrating my 18th year with PR Newswire.  While that is a staggering number and I’d be willing to argue that I can’t possibly be *that* old, this post caused me to reflect on all the changes I’ve seen during my tenure with “the Wire” (as we affectionately call it.)   PR is an infinitely interesting discipline, and the changes enumerated in my last couple posts underscore the simple fact that we are getting closer and closer to the intersection of information, interest and intent that is really the golden ring for communicators. Are you as excited about what’s in store for communicators in 2013 as I am?

Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Want to dig deeper into the evolution of PR and trends to watch for in 2013? Access the archive of a recent webinar titled PR Prepping for the New Year: A Look at the Evolution of Modern PR & What It Means for You discussing the evolution of PR and trends for 2013.  Panelists included:

  • Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge), CEO of Pure Performance Communications

PR Trends for 2013: Evolving Media & Social Business

What’s on tap for PR in 2013?  The answers we received when we asked PR pros to complete the sentence “PR is _____”  provided a harbinger of what the industry can expect in the coming year.

The answers were myriad and varied:  Mind share. Cross-channel conversation.  Content that adds value for readers.  Creating understanding in a complex world.  Engaging dialogue.  A connection between a company and its publics.

And all the answers were correct and point to an emerging reality – PR is getting a lot “bigger.”    The scope of the job is greater, the audiences more vast, the information marketplace is more fluid and the integration with other departments more crucial.

To gain a better angle on the trends for 2013, it’s also important to consider the underlying drivers of trends.

Social Business :   There’s no question that changes in the media environment has had an effect not just on PR departments, but on entire organizations.     Social media has changed customer expectations and introduced an age of radical transparency.  Smart organizations have recalibrated their entire enterprise to connect with, communicate to and serve their customers and prospects.   So what do these changes mean for PR?  A lot, it turns out, from a tactical standpoint.

  • Collaboration & integration:  Silo-busting has taken on a new urgency – it’s crucial for different departments to collaborate in order to deliver a cohesive message strategy and experience for customers across channels.   Social media, inbound and outbound marketing and print buys, for example, all have to work together and make sense.    Print media often drives online behavior, and brands need to plan for (and capture) those actions.
  • Listening & response:  Today’s transparent marketplace puts new pressure on businesses to respond quickly to queries  and comments from their constituents.  This requires communications departments to spool up their social listening efforts, and calibrate their processes (such as review and approval) to speed response.

Evolving media markets:  Journalistic model evolution:  The underlying business models of traditional media continue to evolve – the fact that Newsweek is going all digital in 2013 was probably the most dramatic example from 2012.   What does this mean for PR?  As journalistic models change and go digital, chances are excellent that the folks creating content for digital entities will change how they measure success. Instead of news stand sales, for example, digital metrics, such as the number of times a story was read, shared and commented on – will take precedence.  But the digital environment wages war every second for reader attention .  How can an organization succeed?  By consistently publishing unique, useful and interesting content. Therein is the opportunity for PR pros.

  • Digital media does a great job of serving niche interests, and while the audiences may be smaller, they are enthusiastic and informed.  Find unique story angles to share with tightly focused digital media for maximum visibility to your core audiences.
  • Just because something isn’t “hard news” in the traditional sense doesn’t mean that it won’t be of interest to your audience.  Content that will help your constituents and addresses their pain points plays very well.  Find your internal experts who can offer tips, tactics and advice to your readers.

Mutable social networks:   As we build our communications plans and strategies, it’s important to remember that social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest have the right to change their service offerings, algorithms and terms of use – and they do.  For example, in November, Twitter ceased to render images from Instagram (owned by Facebook) within its news feed, in order to give images generated by using its own suite of photo filters more visibility to Twitter  users.   Organizations that had created rich content on Instagram, and used Twitter to share it to a wider audience, found themselves in a tight spot, as visibility for the images they distribute was reduced.   At the same time, Pinterest announced that (for the time being at least) they added support for Twitter cards, thus ensuring images shared via Twitter via Pinterest will render  on Twitter’s web site and apps.  Confuzzled?  You’re not alone, and there is no safeguard against these sort of changes, which can negatively impact the investment an organization has made in developing a strong presence on a particular network.  So what should communicators do?

  • Don’t become solely reliant upon a social network.   While social networks are incredibly useful for finding, connecting with and engaging audiences, at some point, the brand needs to develop a more direct relationship with audiences.   Encourage your social connections to participate in events, refer them to content on your own web site, and provide engagement options (live chat, comments, etc.) on your own web site to enable your audience to communicate directly with the brand, via channels the brand owns.

In subsequent posts, we’ll discuss trends in PR tactics and outcomes for 2013. Watch this space for more!   In the meantime, you can access an archive of a recent webinar titled PR Prepping for the New Year: A Look at the Evolution of Modern PR & What It Means for You discussing the evolution of PR and trends for 2013.  Panelists included:

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.