April 28, 2020 | Article | by Emily Burdeshaw | Public Relations
Full-Spectrum Public Relations: 4 Keys to Amplifying Your Business
Twenty years ago (and more recently for many people), mass media controlled the flow of information to most of the public. Newspapers, television, and magazines were how many people got their news, making public relations a fairly straightforward job. PR teams would write press releases, pitch media on various topics, and maybe advise clients on their external messages.
But that’s not the case anymore. Today’s PR professional is a mini marketing department in and of themselves. We still write press releases, pitch media, and advise clients on their messaging, but our digital landscape adds a layer of complexity and a number of new marketing skills to the mix.
Really, our clients benefit from this environment. The digital landscape enables creativity, helps us reach new audiences more effectively, and allows us to test our ideas with less risk and investment. Perhaps more importantly, it has broken down silos that once existed between the various subsections of marketing.
The four components of full-spectrum PR
Digital capabilities allow us, as public relations pros and marketers, to get our clients' messages out in new, exciting, and even more accurate ways, sometimes even allowing us to reach audiences we couldn’t reach before. Analytics allows us to measure our success, iterate, and improve. Social media provides us with an opportunity to humanize our clients and reach many more individual stakeholders. SEO helps content rank in search engines more effectively, something we take into account when crafting content and making web recommendations. Branding has an impact on the messaging, tone, and tactics we use to garner attention.
The power of PR in our digital age depends on leveraging the full spectrum of marketing tools and tactics at our disposal. Let's explore those four marketing tools mentioned above a bit more:
Data and analysis provide a crucial understanding of human behavior and decision-making. Good data analysis helps our clients understand the effectiveness of their tactics and continually optimize and refine those tactics. Data allows our clients to use their dollars wisely. Where previously PR pros wouldn’t have been able to accurately track the path that a press release reader would take, now we can see how long they stayed on a certain page, what led them there, and where they went after.
Everyday, we help clients understand where to find specific audiences, which channels they may want to leverage, and what messages might resonate the best on which platforms. Social media gives companies opportunities to tell their stories and engage the public on a broad platform, while also focusing on specific topics and stakeholders.
Search engine optimization relies on content, keyword density, metadata, etc., but it’s usefulness goes well beyond helping people find your homepage. We make recommendations on keywords to include in your releases, blogs, and white papers. We also offer analysis on the words your competitors are targeting and insight into what else your audience searches—and how to incorporate that research into your marketing and PR strategies. Where previously there was a silo—PR in one, SEO in the other—with full-spectrum support, content can be optimized from its nascence.
We believe that every marketing tactic should tie into brand strategy, which ideally hits on the emotional reasons why audiences come to your company. It involves the intangibles of tactic, including voice and tone, which have an impact on brand cohesiveness and the effectiveness of your other tactics.
Full spectrum PR in action
Here’s how these pieces fit together in a hypothetical example of full-spectrum PR:
Let’s say that a leading provider of IT management software wants to generate coverage of their annual cybersecurity survey. The study helps establish them as leaders in the space, is a prime lead generation tool, and provides their customers, partners, and prospects with reliable data that can inform their business decisions.
Before the release of the report, maybe the provider starts a social media “drip campaign” to raise awareness of the survey. They take a look at how their competitors positioned similar efforts and they aim to do better, setting some specific metrics for the team to meet.
After seeing how effective the social media campaign is, they decide to put together a blog series to offer readers more information and context, while also allowing the provider to boost their SEO in advance of the survey release. They look at their competitors’ blogs and content and notice that they’re mostly self-promotional, but do include some good keywords. The provider decides to focus on exclusively educational content—but targeting many of the same words.
The provider then publishes a press release touting the survey results. Reporters are able to find the survey and the release with ease, as well as more context on the provider’s site. As a result, the stories they write contain use cases that resonate with readers because they see themselves and their challenges reflected in the piece. Readers want to learn more so they look up the provider directly—and, thanks to solid SEO, the first two pages of search results all mention the provider.
Wherever readers turn, they find consistent themes and messages. On the provider’s website, there are a number of featured subject matter experts that offer good educational content and subtly sing the same tune from their various perspectives. On social media,the provider offers entertaining and educational polls and quizzes on the survey results, and they notice that the provider replied to each comment, sparking further discussion.
A new approach to PR
As you can see, all of these different marketing components can be used together to effectively foster full spectrum communications that lead to greater awareness and more informative, targeted, and effective outreach. That's what today's PR is about: not just press releases or media relations, but using the full gamut of marketing tools and tactics at our disposal to reach audiences and build brands.