PR agencies, traditionally, have the primary goal of gaining earned press, media or attention. As Forbe’s Robert Wynne stated, they don’t buy ads or create catchy slogans, but rather they “promote companies or individuals via editorial coverage,” otherwise known as earned media. As people use social media everyday, PR agencies rely on this platform as a means of gaining earned media. It is an easy way to organically reach thousands, if not millions of people while also maintaining brand image. Politics is an area that has seen great results from combining PR and social media. Political figures post their campaign commercials on social media, rather than paying for a TV spot and interact with voters firsthand on Twitter and Facebook. Even more effective, if a problem or scandal arises, they can take to social media to release a statement, directly reaching people. Social media platforms are a great tool for PR agencies to promote brands and people – but it is much easier for those who already have a significant following. For companies with smaller following, social platforms are becoming a tricky maneuver and pose different challenges that PR agencies are working to address.
Back in 2011, when social platforms changed their algorithm, the ability to rely on organic reach lessened. This was extremely problematic for PR agencies due to a market that is overly-flooded with media and news. PR agencies have continued to struggle to gain and maintain attention on behalf of their clients. As a solution, some agencies are looking to expand their services by including programmatic media buying as something they can offer to extend reach, especially when it comes to areas of interest like politics.
Less Focus on Awareness and More on Conversion
Marketing budgets are becoming more about ROI and attribution. Companies are less inclined to put their marketing dollars toward awareness, but focus more on conversion. They no longer just want customers to know about them, they want them to act on this awareness. Adding to this challenge, the constant influx of online content, makes it very difficult for articles and coverage to stay at the top of newsfeeds and searches. It is reported that nearly 2 million articles are posted online everyday. PR agencies are rising to this challenge and combining their standard PR strategies with programmatic media buys which include platforms like Facebook, which played a huge role in the last political elections.
PR is quickly evolving, companies like Cision are going beyond just distribution, moving data and analytics to the forefront. Reaching customers on social platforms, due to the high-paced change in newsfeed and content, is a real necessity for companies. As reported by Adexchanger, “…targeting a brand’s audience on social with a coupon or offer can drive customers back to the site, where a pixel tracks and learns more about them so they can be targeted with earned media in the future.” This tactic has two benefits. First, it drives the consumer directly to the website, putting them face-to-face with the brand and in an optimal position to make a purchase. Second, and most important to PR agencies, they are able to learn about the customer, how to better target them and what they most positively connect with. This in turn helps them determine the best content and placement of earned media to ensure its reaches the proper audience.
The adoption of programmatic as a tool by PR agencies is still at the beginning stages. However, in the years to come, they will need to have programmatic media buying in their wheelhouse to get the reach and attention they need to maintain their clients and budgets. To stay current on Digital Media Strategies PR agencies are reaching out to programmatic buying companies and partnering with them. PR agencies understand the earned space, but savvy marketers want the best of all worlds which is the combination of paid, owned and earned media. Combining these marketing channels not only produces better ROI for companies, but more insights about customers and how to best reach them in the future.