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The Keys to a Modern PR Content Strategy

Public relations and the media have long been co-dependent. Traditional media has massive reach or attractive niche audiences, and PR has content that makes compelling stories.

That relationship still exists, but the Internet gives everyone access to traditional and new media content from coast to coast and around the world.

With all this content vying for attention, a media placement alone doesn’t hold the value it once did. Amplifying earned and owned PR messages and measuring the results has become essential. Even the best content won’t produce a business outcome without an audience.

Cision CMO Mark Thabit discussed this new PR pain point and why weaving paid, owned and earned media is the path to success with Crimson Marketing CEO Glenn Gow on a recent podcast.

Here are some of the highlights of the interview:

Listen to the whole interview here!

Options for paid media

Paid Media - Amplifying PR Messages

Paying to play is an option that makes sense for brands looking for reach. Media outlets also benefit, Mark says, because they have yet to find a way to drive revenue through display ads and subscriptions.

Paid media can take the following three forms:

Paid syndication: Even if you’re not sure what paid syndication is, you’ve probably seen it. Brands take their best content and give it more exposure by having links to it on other more-trafficked sites.

Paid integration: Brands can create content and pay to have it placed on a media outlet’s website. Typically, the content has a visual cue, such as “sponsored content,” that alerts readers that it’s paid content.

Paid co-creation: Some publications have staff dedicated to creating content for paying brands. The outlet likely had no intention to cover a topic but will if a brand commissions them.

Measurement: The digital advantage

Measuring PR

The days of Ad Value Equivalency (AVE) are over thanks to the digital revolution, Mark says.

With digital, you can obviously monitor click-through and engagement rates, but you also can see how content affects bottom-line business results.

“Across the board, it’s a little harder to tell whether or not you’re getting that media reach with unique specific audiences through traditional media,” Mark says.

First touch attribution enables you to measure whether or not repeat or first-time visitors turn into prospects and actual converted sales.

Paid media, for example, works best at the top of the sales funnel because its goal is to reach new people within your target audience, Mark says. Seeing how often people who consume the paid media turn into influencers, leads or business shows the value of your investment.

Placing prospects on a path

Lead Paths - Amplifying PR Message

Content draws your audience in, and the people who consume it leave valuable clues, Mark says.

When people consume your content, you have the ability to collect data that shows which nurturing path to place them.

Whereas marketers once had to make a generalization based on someone’s title, now PR professionals and marketers have a better view of a prospect’s pain points and needs, Mark says.

A content view of the sales funnel

Sales Funnel - Amplifying PR Messages

As businesses nurture customers, they need to provide content for each stage of the sales funnel. Content that generates awareness likely won’t help close a sale for customers weighing options before cutting a check.

At the top of the funnel, Mark says, “long-form or media-form content that explains a challenge or an opportunity in the marketplace and what might be done about it are things that will work well.”

As the prospect is nurtured into the consideration phase, you need to understand their specific challenges and goals.

As the prospects move closer to their purchase decision, product comparisons and customer testimonials allow them to weigh pros and cons and envision how your solution can help them.

“You really need to have content that’s available in all parts of that funnel because you don’t know where they are when they first come,” Mark says.

It’s a crowded content world out there, and brands need to provide high-quality, highly visible and highly customized content to stand out.

Using a paid, owned and earned content strategy will drive awareness, but it’s not the entire game. Leveraging digital advantages to monitor and measure prospects actions drives real business outcomes and showcases success.

Want to hear more from Mark? Listen to the entire podcast here!

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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