Earned Media Angels: Public Relations in the Enterprise
I have to tell you about an interesting business proposal we received last week. Interesting not for the complexity of the project, but fascinating in terms of the proposed terms. Fascinating, yet not unique, which leads me to this conversation.
The No-Money Results Request
The CEO behind the proposal was suggesting that he provide our agency team with a flat fee of $500, and we in turn name of the guaranteed placements we'd deliver in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and more. We politely sent him on his way.
The reality is, yes, of course we work with these media, and so much more. But the hours of strategy and work with the journalists and our clients to create and place effective, thought leadership-driven story placements really doesn't make it possible to work on that small of a budget.
But, in all fairness to our CEO contact with the big goals and small budget, (and we do direct people to our DIY-guide so they can get their own media coverage), you can't fault him for trying.
The rise of paid bloggers, influencer platforms, pay-per-click, and content marketing means that you can absolutely get someone, somewhere, to get your digital message out to the marketplace - and probably for five hundred clams, too. The message will be controlled, directed to your market audience, and relatively affordable from a pay-per-click basis. What's not to love? Nothing, there's plenty of good to be had. But there's some really valuable media mojo a company may be leaving on the table with this approach.
A Match Made in Heaven: The Smart Enterprise & PR
Tech and enterprise public relations is a different, albeit complementary, discipline in the marketing world. Because a company can't pay for placement, and ultimately doesn't have final control over the message, it is uniquely resistant to paid content thinking and strategies.
Which begs the question, if you can't control it, if it's not cheap from a time or cost perspective, then what good is it?
Oh angel, I'm glad you asked. PR is the credibility-builder that not only helps power social and paid-content campaigns, it does something no other marketing strategy can do:
Public relations keeps working for you long after the bills are paid and the campaign has gone home.
Precisely because PR results in coverage of your company's story or your executive's expertise by a credible, third-party member of the media, there is no "off" switch. Once that story is published, unless pulled by the media outlet for a critical reason, it works for your company, building brand awareness, credibility, and driving traffic, pretty much for well, maybe not eternity, but something close.
Better yet, it does that without coming back and asking you to replenish your budget. But there's so much more to the story than that:
The Halo Effect
Earned media placements (or PR) has what I like to call the "halo" effect. It's presence delivers a warm glow of evergreen opportunity and target market connection that can provide years of dividends.
Yes, you'll see some direct traffic boost, and yes earned media results will help in assisted funnel conversions. It also provides a magic halo of credibility which delivers the statistically small, but impact-enormous, business opportunity.
By this I mean PR opens doors for individual opportunities that may translate to large data trends, but delivers big impact. One example is a financial services company client seeking to earn more speaking engagements. After a Wall Street Journal article and a few other placements, not only were speaking proposals eagerly accepted, but their CEO started getting calls for invitations. Each of those speaking conferences delivered warm leads, new connections, and partnership opportunities.
Another ecommerce client was featured in a number of fashion-focused blogs and media articles. They received an invitation to participate in a gift reception at a pre-Oscars party with the top nominees. A red carpet media win if ever there was one!
Finally, there was a software startup that (gasp) DIDN'T hire us, so we went to work with their competitor. Fast-forward a year, and that CEO let us know we were "personally responsible" for over $1 million in lost proposal opportunities for them, as each time they presented, they were informed that our Client X was visible in industry articles, conferences and more. Our Client X reliably won the business over our budget-minded competitor.
Familiarity Breeds Business Opportunity
Seeing enterprises and their leaders in the publications the market community trusts builds a sense of connection and familiarity. Likewise, Google, the search behemoth tasked with delivering trusted, reliable search results, needs good, third-party content to drive accurate ranking returns.
Seeing media coverage of your company in search, and across industry-trusted publications, is a sure-fire way of building your audience regardless budget and campaign calendars.
So, slip under that halo of positive media coverage, and let strategic results power your market presence, drive your social media conversations, and help your market community understand what an angel you are.
Questions or comments? Need help getting your halo? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: +1.503.298.9749.
Pam Abrahamsson is an award-winning director and co-founder of PRA Public Relations, a technology and B2B-focused PR agency. She is a speaker, author and mentor for the communications industry, and supports the tech/startup community through mentoring and education.