Justifying your PR budget is never an easy task. We know that PR and communications professionals are always on the lookout for new tools that can simplify the process, because we do the same thing. The framework that Digital PR gives us is one of those tools.
PR attribution doesn't have to be a dream. Explaining the value of the work you do as a communications professional clearly, with impact- and how that value should be translated into a budget so you can do even more- doesn't have to be a dream either.
Here's how the Digital PR framework can help you justify your spend in 2019.
Framing out your budget needs
Digital PR is just a framework for everything you're already doing in your job as a communications professional.
It brings together everything from content and SEO strategies, to your social media and influencer marketing strategies, and the KPIs your team has identified as being the most meaningful for your brand.
This makes budget forecasting and justification easier for you and your higher-ups who don't live and breathe PR and comms on a daily basis to understand— and therefore approve.
PR is in a constant state of evolution, including the tools and technologies your brand can now take advantage of. In this rapidly changing environment, it’s important to have your PR budget secured in order to gain the maximum impact from your efforts.
Here are just a few of the notable shifts as we head into 2019:
- There are fewer journalists, and more influencers: Your brand needs an influencer marketing strategy that integrates with your larger brand strategy and pinpoints the influencers your audience is interested in.
- Your audience is active on more channels than ever: So you need to be too. Allocate budget to experiment with your content approach in each place so you're sure that your brand message is reaching your audience in as many places as possible with the tailored content they want to see.
- Does your content strategy work with your KPIs? What are you measuring? Have you integrated your KPIs with your content strategy? Your social media content strategy? How does your influencer strategy fit into that? It doesn't need to be perfect, but your brand needs a comprehensive starting point you can benchmark and build from.
- Earned media has unique credibility: You need to integrate it into your paid and owned marketing for improved outcomes across the board.
We touched on that last point in a webinar we hosted earlier this year on how to continually justify your budget as a PR professional. Vice President of Marketing at TrustRadius, Russ Somers, said this:
"One of the most powerful things you can do to expand your budget is to discuss how your earned media can help with paid, shared, and owned. The coverage we get drives our blog and drives our owned properties. The coverage we get is fuel for our ad campaigns that we push out through paid media and retargeting. The coverage that we get is socially amplified. Rather than simply tweeting, 'We think our brand is great,' you're able to tweet out all your media mentions and coverage and say, 'This third-party journalist that reviews smartphones all day thinks our smartphone is the best.' So it adds. . .that's again putting that credibility into the marketing mix."
Research continues to point to earned media being the most credible type of media for a majority of consumers, so it makes sense to prioritize this approach in your strategy and your PR budget.
Other key tips
We've shared our 5 tips for securing your PR budget before, but we wanted to update them for 2019:
- Align marketing outcomes with company goals: This is still a key piece of advice. How can PR help the company achieve its goals? What numbers can you put behind that plan? No role can afford to act in isolation anymore; PR should be integrated but still needs to prove its individual value.
- Provide strategic insights and actionable data: With the right tools (we're biased, but we like the TrendKite customizable dashboards and reporting) you can quickly prove the value of your work, show the impact and credibility of earned media, identify the influencers your brand should work with, and translate all of this into language the C-Suite can understand.
- Budget beyond press release distribution: Sending a press release is now the beginning of a conversation, not the end. However, you also need to be starting strategic, targeted conversations with the right journalists and influencers, not just sending out a blanket press release. Shift your spend to match this approach if you haven't already.
- Be sure your strategy is integrated across the company: An integrated strategy is a valuable one. How can PR help achieve goals across the brand? How can stories from across the brand help PR? It's not possible to know if you're working in isolation.
- Prove earned media ROI: It hasn't been about a ruler and AVE for a long time. Remember, PR attribution doesn't have to be a dream. You can understand the full influence of your PR efforts on web traffic and conversions.
And then you can take it to your bosses to secure your budget.
Our final advice
Be sure that you build your PR and communications budget on trusted data.
If you're using benchmarks built on questionable data, or using outdated vanity metrics to set your budget, you're not getting everything you could be for your team and for your brand.
Let us know if we can help with that.
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Thought leadership and communications strategy for the C-suite written by the C-suite.
A blog for and about the media featuring trends, tips, tools, media moves and more.