Elevate Your Brand: Public Relations Best Practices for 2024
A well-executed PR program is a necessary and effective means of increasing brand awareness and driving sales. By following the best practices outlined in this article, businesses can establish a positive brand image, engage with their target audience, and achieve their PR objectives.
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Public relations (PR) is often the most overlooked and unsung hero of marketing. Too many companies miss the golden opportunity to share newsworthy information, because they either don’t understand how effective communicating the story would be, or they simply do not prioritize the time to allow it to happen. We have already shared the basics behind a good public relations program and the benefits it brings to a company in an article called, “Public Relations – Strategic Insights.” Today we are going to discuss best practices, the metrics you need to track, and proof as to how important it is to have such a program.
Do Public Relations Programs Work?
There are numerous statistics that justify why every business needs a robust public relations program. For the sake of time and space, we will just focus on three key areas.
Brand Awareness- PR is an essential element in creating brand awareness for any company. Here are some top statistics to demonstrate the value of making your brand memorable. PR is:
80% more effective than advertising in creating brand awareness among consumers (Nielsen).
84% of marketers believe that PR activities directly contribute to sales by increasing brand visibility in places like grocery stores and other retail spaces (PRWeek).
Trust and Credibility– PR provides you with the unique opportunity to get positive stories, articles, and mentions placed in trustworthy publications and on broadcast media. Here are the stats.
65% of consumers trust earned media (including PR) more than any other form of marketing (Edelman Trust Barometer).
80% of consumers believe PR is more credible than consumers ((Public Relations Society of America).
Growth – If an activity does not contribute to growth, should you even be doing it? Well, you don’t need to worry about the value public relations has on sales or growth. Here are a few numbers that will showcase the value of PR:
550% ROI results from an effective PR campaign. This is a tribute to the low cost of implementing such programs (Public Relations Society of America).
90% is the amount that PR is more effective than advertising at driving sales (Forbes).
5-10% increase in sales results when campaigns contain a PR component (Institute for Public Relations).
PR campaigns are 90% more likely to influence consumer purchasing decisions compared to traditional advertising (Association of National Advertisers).
PR Best Practices
Now that we know public relations programs work, let’s examine a few of the best practices you need to adhere to in order to achieve those results.
Determine Objectives– For every marketing campaign, you should have clear and defined objectives as to what you expect will be the outcome. This is also true for PR campaigns. If you can't state what benefit it will have for your company, why are you running it? If you do not know how to make an educated guess as to what you think will happen, that is a telltale sign that you need to seek help. A true PR professional will have run similar campaigns dozens, if not hundreds, of times and can provide fairly accurate predictions as to the ultimate results and what will happen to all the relevant intermediate key performance indicators (KPIs). It is important that you know these intermediate expectations, because if you are falling short on those KPIs, it means that you need to make some campaign adjustments.
Know Your Audience– Like any aspect of marketing, the foundation is understanding your buyer personas. Even when you are crafting a PR campaign, you want to make sure that the content contains messaging that will resonate with your target audience. You will also be making decision on what mediums and channels to use to distribute the PR material. Make sure you select those that your audience frequents and that will resonate with them.
Build Relationships with Journalists and Influencers– Building relationships with the media is crucial for successful PR. A comprehensive media list should include relevant journalists, bloggers, influencers, and industry publications. By maintaining an up-to-date media list, PR professionals can ensure that their brand's messages reach the right people at the right time.
If you wait until you want to start your campaign to begin trying to build relationships with journalists and influencers, you are too late. These can take years to cultivate and develop. Start sharing valuable content with them now, so you have established a level of credibility and trust.
Only eight percent of all the pitches that journalists receive result in a published article (Propel). So, If you don’t already have such relationships, partner with those agencies that do.
Create Compelling Content– Besides addressing the needs and interests of your target audience, your PR material must be compelling to both the journalist and the ultimate reader. To get the attention of the journalist, it is best to use original content. Sixty-eight percent of journalists prefer data-driven reporting that has original research (Cision). In fact, over 30% of journalists will only consider a pitch if it contains data that reveals patterns and issues about the brand or product (Cision).
To connect with the final recipient of that content, craft a compelling story. Storytelling tugs at our emotions and remains memorable long after statistics and facts are forgotten. Good stories tend to be shared at a much higher rate and that amplification can take your brand viral.
Amplification – Whatever the initial results are from your PR efforts, you need to have a plan in place to further amplify those results. There are several ways to accomplish as much exposure as possible.
Company Amplification – Whenever a publication or broadcast distributes the PR material, share that action on all your social channels. Make sure you tag the organization that published the content and an actual link to the article or broadcast. Not only will it get you more views, but the journalist who released the information will appreciate the support.
Influencers – You should have a team of high-profile influencers who are also ready to share any article or broadcast. Make sure that they have the same target audience. Leveraging their reach and reputation will not only provide more authenticity to the story, but it will reach a lot more people.
Employees – If you have not set up a program to encourage employees to share important company information on social media, you need to implement one. While you cannot make them post anything, you can strongly encourage it by having contests for those who do and also rewarding those who have the best post. You never know who might be in their social reach that might further amplify your content.
Monitor the Industry and Competitors– If you are not using artificial intelligence to monitor keywords, key issues, trends, and competitors, you are missing out on public relations opportunities. There is a whole sector of marketing that is based on fastvertising. This is the practice of quickly creating an ad based on some trending topic in the news that is going viral. The same technique can be used for posting PR content.
Measure Results– Like all marketing initiatives, monitoring and measuring the results of a PR program is crucial to assess its effectiveness. In our next section, we will share the KPIs that you need to add for public relations activities.
Track - Measure - Optimize
While we already track over 400 KPIs for each client every month, when we are running public relations campaigns, that number goes up. Tracking media coverage, social media engagement, website traffic, and sales can provide valuable insights into the impact of PR efforts. By analyzing these metrics, PR professionals can make data-driven decisions and refine their strategies for better results. We are assuming that you are already tracking such things as SEO, website traffic, leads, etc. These are just the additional KPIs you need to be tracking:
Media Impressions – This is a calculation of the total audience reached. It is a good benchmark as to the width and breadth of your PR efforts.
Share of Voice – This is a comparison of the portion of the conversation that is attributable to you, as opposed to your competitors. When making this analysis, it is important to distinguish between the volume of mentions vs. the reach. Your competitors can have a higher number of mentions, but you might have more publications sharing the information. The latter usually means more eyes on the topic for you.
Key Message Inclusion - This shows how often your key message is included in media coverage.
Target Media Secured – When you start a campaign, you should always have a target list of where you want to secure coverage. This is the percentage of those targeted media outlets you were successful in having shared the communication with.
Amplification Score – The amplification score is the number of times, and the reach, that your article was amplified on social media.
A well-executed PR program is a necessary and effective means of increasing brand awareness and driving sales. By following the best practices outlined in this article, businesses can establish a positive brand image, engage with their target audience, and achieve their PR objectives. The statistics provided demonstrate the importance of PR in today's competitive market and highlight its effectiveness in increasing brand awareness and sales. Embracing PR as an integral part of the marketing strategy can lead to long-term success and growth for businesses.