Are you looking to expand your brand and develop new relationships with potential consumers who, while not overly familiar with your brand, would probably be interested in your offering? Welcome to the wonderful world of public relations!
Public relations – more commonly referred to by the abbreviation “PR” – refers to the cumulative mediums that a company might use to communicate with their target audience. Back in the day, this consisted mostly of press releases, but with the rise of the internet and the increasing popularity of different social platforms, PR has expanded to include all these different modes of communication.
Utilizing Earned, Paid, and Owned Media
Generally speaking, PR can be broken down into 3 main media channels: earned, paid, and owned media. All three channels work to accomplish the same goal but do through slightly different strategies. The most effective PR strategies are able to effectively utilize all three channels to present the most cohesive brand message.
Earned media is the term we use to define media that a company has “earned” through the quality of their products or services, the effectiveness of their other promotional channels, and their brand presentation. In short, this is the type of media that only occurs when you’ve been successful in creating and bringing an amazing product to market. Some examples of this might include:
While (positive) earned media is one of the most valuable PR channels, it is also very difficult to manufacture since it is an organic, spontaneous form of PR that is created almost entirely without the input of the brand itself. For example, you don’t have any input into the thousands of separate conversations, blogs, and reviews that comprise your earned media PR channel. All you can do is focus on creating and deploying an extraordinary product or service to market and following that up with effective marketing and PR strategies. If you do this properly, positive earned media will soon follow.
Paid media has become an increasingly popular channel over the last several years. It’s now common practice for businesses to pay to increase the reach of their content. They do this though:
Social media advertising (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
Influencer marketing (Paying social influencers within your niche to promote your content or product)
PPC (Paying for ad placement in various publications, search engines, and other media outlets)
Paid press releases (Not as common, but still a viable paid media channel)
Paid media promotion is all about paying other media outlets and platforms to display your content, product, or service to relevant users in exchange for payment. Paid media is the new press release, in the sense that it allows businesses to effectively and economically get their content in front of the people who matter.
Owned media is pretty self-explanatory, in that it’s comprised of any media channels that your business owns. This is one of the most common strategies that businesses employ to increase their brand recognition and authority within an industry. For example, owned media might include:
A company’s blog
Social media accounts
Website content or copy
These media sources are usually completely controlled by the business and allow them full control of the message or content they are presenting. In fact, owned media – like a blog or website content – are usually referenced by ‘earned media’ sources, as people write, talk, and create reviews about your product or service. Owned media is an incredibly valuable PR channel since it allows a business the most control over the presentation of its content.
How Does PR Compare to Marketing?
Many people find it difficult to distinguish between marketing and public relations, and often pose questions about how they differ. While marketing is focused on promoting a specific product or service, with the goal of driving sales and revenue, PR is focused on boosting the public perception of your brand. PR is a cohesive strategy that considers all the mediums through which a company interacts with the public, and actively strategizes how they can improve a brand’s image. As mentioned above, this is completed through owned, paid, and earned media channels.
That said, we believe that both marketing and PR are most effective when combined through an inbound marketing strategy. This is because people rarely purchase big-ticket items without first researching their options so that when they do finally make a purchase, they’re not buying a product, they’re purchasing a brand and what it represents.
What is Inbound Marketing PR?
Inbound marketing is widely considered the future of PR, since it combines the strengths of PR with the strengths of inbound, allowing you to measure the ROI of your PR strategy. Contrary to the traditional view of PR, which is characterized by “cold” communication channels (think corporate press releases, etc.), Inbound Marketing PR focused on building a relationship with potential future customers long before they are even in the market for a particular product or service. This is achieved through consistent content creation, across numerous channels, where the potential consumer becomes familiar with your company’s brand and reputation.
Measuring Your Inbound PR Campaign KPI’s
As with any marketing or PR campaign, you must outline trackable KPIs to measure the success of your campaign. The following is a list of some of the most common KPIs that you should keep in mind when attempting to track the success of your inbound PR campaign.
Brand mentions are defined as an instance where someone mentions your brand in their earned media coverage. For example, when your brand is mentioned on social media, a blog, or a news publication without them providing a backlink to your website.
Brand mentions are great for raising public awareness of your brand name, but they can be very difficult to track. Tools like Mention and SEMrush are invaluable for this and scan the internet for anywhere your brand has been mentioned. In general, a higher volume of brand mentions equates to a more successful inbound PR strategy, since more people are talking about your brand. However, it’s important to understand that every brand mention may not be positive. Negative reviews and complaints will still count as brand mentions, so it’s important to take a holistic approach, and manually review the majority of your brand mentions. Engaging with those who are discussing your brand shows that you care about your customers and that you are prepared to stand behind your brand reputation and commitment to customer service.
Like brand mentions, backlinks raise valuable brand awareness. However, unlike brand mentions, backlinks take it a step further by providing a link to the business website. Not only do backlinks make it easier for potential customers to find your business, but backlinks also contribute to your search engine optimization (SEO) in the form of higher search engine rankings. More backlinks will signal that your website is a relevant, valuable resource, and search engines will respond by increasing your website’s search ranking. Obviously, this will help attract organic customers as well.
Website Traffic & Conversions
Another easy metric for testing the effectiveness of your inbound PR campaign is monitoring your website traffic. An increase in website traffic is a pretty obvious indication that your inbound PR campaign is working. A platform like Google Analytics can help you track any increase in website traffic over time.
However, an increase in website traffic does not necessarily equate to an increase in new customers. It’s quite possible for your marketing strategy to be ineffective in converting potential customers – maybe you have a poorly-designed website, outdated branding, or your marketing message isn’t effective – so that even when your inbound PR campaign attracts potential customers to your website, they leave without being convinced to convert (whatever it is that your particular call to action may be).
Nonetheless, if your inbound PR strategy is effective in attracting potential customers to your website, you should still consider it a success (even if a lack of conversions raises possible concerns with your marketing strategy). After all, this was the end goal of your inbound PR strategy in the first place – to raise brand awareness for your company.
Wrapping it Up
The PR industry has completely changed with the rise of the inbound marketing methodology. Rather than the traditional practice of stuffy corporate press releases, modern PR has shifted and now focuses on maintaining consistent contact with potential customers through content creation. This content creation familiarizes the general audience with the company’s brand image and reputation as a leader in their industry.
Leighton is the founder of ARTIISEO, a content marketing agency. With over 10 years of experience in digital marketing, Leighton has worked with some of the top agencies in North America and possesses a deep knowledge of the industry. He also writes extensively about marketing, entrepreneurialism, and business in general.