One of the main goals of any new or emerging brand is to eventually become a market leader, but the journey to reach that goal is oftentimes a much harder task until an effective and sustained PR program is in place and combined with an integrated marketing strategy. Unfortunately for a majority of these companies, internal decision makers still don’t fully realize the significant business value PR can contribute to their organization’s sales and marketing efforts until the business stagnates or it’s too late and the company is in a tailspin.
With the brands that do realize the potential of PR, it can have a profound effect on the visibility of not just their brand and products/services, but also other aspects both directly and indirectly. Case in point, when our team managed the PR program for an emerging brand in the auto tech space, we witnessed first-hand how a great standalone review in Consumer Reports resulted in several hundred thousand dollars in sales.
Unfortunately, the connection between PR and sales isn't always so obvious. So one of the toughest questions decision-makers at a brand and their PR/marketing agencies face is: why should an emerging brand (with limited budgets) invest in PR?
Below are several valuable metrics brands can use to evaluate the impact of PR metrics - and should consider when deciding whether to invest in a PR program.
Spikes in organic searches for your brand on search engines like Google. The search giant even provides a tool called Google Trends that allows you to examine search histories going back several years.
Increases in traffic to your website from standalone stories. You can track specific analytics like backlinks, inbound sales leads or user registrations, or simply examine the overall ebb and flow of traffic to the site.
Likewise, you can also look at the potential impact across your brand’s social media channels. For starters, see if you’ve gained followers, likes, or even impressions on your posts. Communications software platforms like Cision offer tools that allow you to track the number of mentions over time. A simple search on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can also give you a good idea as to whether people are talking about your brand following major PR activities.
If your brand has a paid industry analyst relationship, which a PR program should include, you can measure any improvement (or decline) of your brand amongst competing vendors within your firm’s respective market. This is more of a long-term measure, but definitely a valuable one.
Now that everyone is comfortable with how to measure the impact of their brand’s PR activities, it’s time to build a high-octane program to deliver those results! Below are several “must-have” elements you’ll want to be sure to include as you develop your PR program.
Comprehensive PR Plan
The first thing a brand should do is ask where their PR plan is. If you don’t have one, create one ASAP! Why? From our experience, the brand clients that insisted on prioritizing immediate media engagement over strategic planning ended up achieving fewer/lower results.
An investment in an annual PR plan is critical for any brand’s success. These highly strategic documents include everything from the corporate, and product positioning and messaging that will be used in almost every component of their program. Plans should also include the following key details:
Planned press releases
Important dates and milestones
Target media to approach
Events to exhibit/attend
Moreover, the plan should incorporate key metrics (see above) to help determine not just the impact of the PR program, but also ensure it’s accountable for its operational budget.
Integrated PR Program
So what should a fully functional PR program include to ensure maximum exposure of a brand and its products/services? While every program should be tailored to match the needs of each specific brand (including their budget), in a nutshell, the following components are all things brands should consider to generate maximum results. Some of the top performing client programs we’ve managed have included most of these components.
Analyst relations - AR handles the facilitation of briefings and management of industry analysts that cover and report about specific market spaces.
Awards program - Oversee industry and business awards that are given out to companies, products, executives, and teams.
Editorial - The management of written materials including press releases, media alerts, case studies, blogs, speeches, contributed articles, Ed-Ops, etc.
Media relations - Handles everything involving the press such as the pitching of stories, facilitation of interviews, securing paid, earned and owned media coverage, media training, etc.
Social media - Involves the management of social media accounts and generating content for all the brands channels.
Speaking program - Covers industry, tech and business tradeshows and events that involve a company spokesperson presenting a standalone speech or participating in a panel discussion
Strategic communications - This component manages everything from the development of annual and quarterly plans to thought leadership campaigns including corporate and product messaging and positioning.
Proactive Story Ideas
Above all, the most successful PR programs produce a steady stream of proactive story ideas for earned media to report on. This means that the PR team needs to develop, pitch and secure stories that the media may not have considered. Trying to get the media like the Associated Press or the Wall Street Journal to report on your brand is an uphill battle, but can become much easier if you have generated well thought-out and researched stories that are proactively pitched to the correct reporters at these tier 1 media outlets.
A day before CES 2020 officially started we had the pleasure of facilitating an interview between our client, the CEO of Huami (NYSE: HMI), and CNET senior editor Scott Stein, for an exclusive story. The proactive efforts by the PR team at Red Harp began back in October to land this exclusive article and eventually culminated in a highly strategic feature story about Huami’s Amazfit brand and new products being launched at CES. This is a perfect example of how a proactive media relations program can generate well-placed feature stories with earned, tier 1 media.