Traditional PR agencies are facing an increasing number of challenges to getting clients’ messaging out there. Publications are shutting down or downsizing, many require advertising in order to place certain types of content, the appetite for event attendance has fallen, and the implementation of paywalls means that fewer people get to see the content.
By working with our clients, we have found that effective, intentional combination of PR and digital allows us to get wins from both spends, and overcome many of the above-mentioned challenges. While traditional PR takes time and consistency to build brand credibility, digital works at a much faster pace, and provides the ability to make quick changes based on analytics feedback on how audiences are engaging with an article or social advertisement.
Using digital gives customers an agile, flexible platform to keep re-engineering their traditional messaging; when we see keywords or particular content topics working, we are able to weave this back into PR. Similarly, we can take content originating from PR and rework those for use across digital and social platforms.
Native campaigns for broad reach
In addition, our experience has shown that partnering with established online media publications works especially well, with these native content campaigns providing customers with extensive reach among highly relevant audiences, and driving referral traffic to website or campaign-specific landing pages.
Being present across multiple platforms is a good amplification strategy for a technology brand’s messaging, but there needs to be careful planning, coordination between all stakeholders, and timeous implementation to ensure you get the most out of the spend.
Companies need to ensure that each of these different facets are working as a unified collective, informed by strong strategy, with clear objectives for each platform, and that the expected return on investment from each is quantified.
Defining campaign success
Success and failure of campaigns are defined by the client objectives, and whether the agency has delivered the strategies and solutions that can meet or exceed these set objectives – as well as understanding and buy-in from the client.
We need to take into consideration the product or service being sold, the industry or ecosystem, and the target audience, and what competitors are doing – especially in a saturated market. Then, there needs to be an understanding that continuous testing is required to find the optimal message, the optimal platform and the best results, especially when conducting a lead generation campaign. You have to iterate and evolve until you reach the finish line.
These fully integrated campaigns might have the richness of content of traditional PR, but move at the speed of digital, and as such there needs to be close cooperation between agency and client. This includes all relevant stakeholders, right from executives, through to sales and marketing teams, and even the contact centre that will be faced with queries about ongoing campaigns.
Agencies should further be honest and upfront with customers and manage expectations around the performance of campaigns, and results derived thereof, especially when it is B2B tech that usually has long lead times. Experience has shown that those who stick with it will reap the rewards of a sustained lead generation campaign, even more so when PR and digital are seamlessly combined.
Traditional PR is not dying, and it will continue to play a valuable part in building and sustaining brand elevation, and within the marketing and communications ecosystem. However, PR as a stand alone is increasingly being seen as a bit of a dinosaur, and the lesser attractive option from within the marketing mix.
Our role as agencies is to find ways to bridge traditional PR with digital marketing, and ensure that our customers get the best return on their investment.
By Judith Middleton, Head of Advisory Services, DUO Marketing + Communications