The entire landscape of public relations (PR) and marketing has experienced some drastic changes over the last 20 years. Not only has the role of the PR professional evolved, but so have the expectations and needs of the clients they serve. Companies want results. They don’t want a promise that you can do so many press releases or articles, they want something measurable.
It’s the job of a business-to-business (B2B) PR and marketing firm to help its clients define and deliver the messages in a way that supports a company’s sales process. For a company looking for professional PR help and marketing expertise, one of the most important factors to consider is an agency’s ability to adapt to constantly changing market conditions and client goals.
The Rise of Bylined Articles
A series of bylined articles is one of the best ways to build the executive’s reputation as a forward-thinking industry thought leader. As advertising revenue shifts away from print and television toward digital platforms, many publications have reduced the size of their staff, forcing fewer editors and reporters to do more with less. In order to meet the need for more high-quality content with fewer in-house staff resources, many publications now welcome and are even hungry for “bylined” or “ghostwritten” articles.
The PR professional conducts an in-depth interview with the client and/or subject-matter expert (SME) then drafts the article with key messaging on pertinent industry trends or issues in the client’s name. By raising awareness and building the client’s credibility to the public, a bylined article reduces the effort a company’s sales team must devote to introduce a prospect to the company.
The bylined article is a pre-sales tool for the company. It helps make sure that when the lead is passed to a salesperson, it’s a warm lead. We are constantly working on improving ways to deliver value to our clients.
Until a few years ago, the practice of developing content for websites and blogs with titles and keywords optimized to achieve high-level search results was in the primary domain of marketing writers. However, as the lines between marketing and PR have blurred, PR professionals have become more proficient at developing optimized content for blogs that yield high-level search results.
Although a blog is typically only one component of a website, the title of the blog and the supporting content can often make the blog show up as a top tier link to an online query. According to HubSpot, the search result in the # 1 position on Google gets 33 percent of the search traffic and that Page 1 search results in 92 percent of all traffic.
For whatever reason, only the most diligent researchers tend to move on to Page 2 results or beyond. In addition, long-tail keyword phrases, or phrases designed to capture the attention of search engines, comprise 70 percent of user searches. Using search engine optimization (SEO) tools such as MOZ to hone in on the relevant long-tail searches for a particular audience can make a huge difference in the process of attracting “organic” search results.
Understanding the key technologies and business processes underlying the blog topic is the most important part of the battle. However, in order to have your blog post rank higher in search results, you should do a keyword search prior to writing and then use those keywords where it makes sense throughout your blog.
New Metrics for Campaign Success
Over the years, the standard way of measuring the success of a PR campaign is to look at the “press clippings” or the quantity and quality of the media coverage that the campaign achieves. If a news item receives coverage in eight industry trade publications, two technology publications, one business publication, plus local radio; then you look at the potential audience for that news and assign a value to that coverage.
However, that’s no longer enough. Today, we have new metrics to help company executives gauge the success of a campaign.
The advent of social media has opened the door for interactive communications between a company, its clients, and the general population. When major news comes out, it is shared and re-shared so that news can spread across the country much faster than before. With social media monitoring tools now in widespread use, PR agencies can measure the reaction to various announcements and gauge the “sentiment” or “perception” of that news.
In the past, a PR professional would just distribute a press release to a select group of media. However, today, we also share short blurbs with links to actual client news. Then we monitor for feedback and sentiment based on social reactions. This makes social media a big part of the 24/7 news cycle.
Another way to measure results of a PR campaign is to track the increase in traffic to a company’s website that coincides with a particular campaign. This is only possible if you have a baseline for website traffic and then measure the results of ongoing campaigns over a period of time. In addition, with some tools, you can measure the quality of backlinks from articles to a website to obtain a cumulative traffic total of a PR campaign.
Adapting for Success
In order to achieve the optimal results in any ongoing public relations or marketing campaign, you should try to find an agency that has proven it can adapt to changing market conditions over time. A team that can secure positive publicity in high-profile business and trade publications for a B2B client is good, but that’s just the bare minimum.
Can that same agency effortlessly pivot between PR and marketing strategy in a way that demonstrates flexibility and diversity of services? The agency you choose should be able to seamlessly arrange both high-profile media interviews and an inbound marketing campaign to create awareness of your company’s product and services, drive high-value website traffic and capture qualified leads to enrich your sales pipeline.
Dan Demaree is Founder & CEO of DPR Group