Public relations (PR) plays a critical role in boosting an organisation’s reputation and credibility.
From the smallest business operators and start-ups to the largest international conglomerates, business owners and leaders know the vital role of public relations in creating awareness and painting a positive image for their companies.
In the financial services industry, the need for and the value of public relations cannot be underestimated as financial services providers vie for clients’ attention every day.
Here are some of the major benefits you can get from public relations:
Builds and enhances your credibility – having a regular and ongoing presence in the media, particularly the major news channels, is a sure-fire way of building and enhancing your credibility.
For example, if you are quoted or featured in articles in the Australian Financial Review or The Australian or if you’re regularly asked for comments and interviews by Bloomberg or BBC TV, these exposures bring a massive boost to your credibility.
This is because those media organisations have an incredible status and authority which have a flow-on effect on you. The more often you are featured and interviewed in those media channels, the more boost you will have on your credibility.
Builds and enhances your authority – flowing on from the enhanced credibility you’ve established, public relations can also build and enhance your authority. Once you have built your credibility you will be in a better position to reach a wider audience and build your authority in your field of expertise.
For example, some market analysts whom we work with who start with providing commentaries to newspapers and newswire services, have been asked to do presentations in front of investor groups.
This is because of the credibility and authority that have been built up with the help of public relations.
Keeps your competition out of the media – in the competitive world of financial services, every time that you are quoted or interviewed by the media is an opportunity for you to keep your competition out.
If you have a regular and established presence in the media, you have better chances of keeping your competitors out, which means you are reaching more people – clients, potential clients, industry peers – and others who look up to you as a credible and authoritative source of information and analysis.
Builds your company brand and reputation – public relations remains one of the most powerful tools to build your company’s brand and reputation. Though companies still find the need to advertise their products and services, public relations can bring more credibility to a brand.
To a certain extent, advertising creates awareness for a company’s products and services while public relations helps companies in building and enhancing their reputation and credibility. And that is something that advertising can’t deliver.
New ways of measuring the value of PR in 2018
While there are entrenched qualitative ways of measuring the value of public relations, the coming of advanced technology and automation is introducing new methods of capturing and reporting the true value of public relations.
Leading the change and move into a more data-driven analysis of PR value are PR analytics and measurement service providers. These are companies that use advanced software applications to analyse every bit of information related to PR and communication strategies.
From the moment you send out a press release or any form of content out, the software can track the coverage generated and analyse the results at all levels.
For example, most of the software now can analyse how many shares, likes and other engagements are generated by a particular article.
Aside from tracking which publication or broadcast channel your story was published in, most of the software can also track the dollar value of the coverage as well as the number of audiences it reached.
This level of detail and granularity has not been available to companies nor to public relations practitioners just a few years ago.
What’s driving the move toward digital analysis of PR measurement and value?
Today, with access to more granular and data-backed analysis and measurements, public relations is moving towards a similar path where other marketing and communications tools are now.
According to Casper Janns, founder and chief executive at Hypefactors, the fact that PR measurement and analytics is coming to the fore now is only logical.
“Public Relations somehow seems to be the last business area without clear business objectives and metrics. Management loves Google Adwords because it comes with a lot of metrics to “prove” the effectiveness, making it easier to argue for allocation of spendings for Adwords,”
“Often PR has much more value to offer, but it needs to be documented. That’s what we work to do at Hypefactors,” Janns said.
According to Lacey Miller, content marketing manager at TrendKite, the rising expectation from C-level executives is also a major factor behind the demand for data-driven PR value analysis.
“CMOs and CEOs have gotten used to sophisticated measurement from other disciplines, and they expect that same level of clarity from their PR teams.”
She also pointed out another important reason – earned media is the second most trustworthy channel among consumers.
“Only recommendations from friends and family were trusted more. That means that PR and earned media is, arguably, the most influential channel for reaching consumers,” Miller said.
She added that “The more we can use PR analytics to understand the true business impact, the more that PR rises as the most powerful lever in the marketing toolkit.
Miller also pointed out that the traditional way of counting mentions as a measure of PR impact tends to understate the real contribution and benefits of public relations.
Brittany Berger, head of Content Marketing and PR at Mention.com said “As more PR coverage becomes digital, it just gets easier to measure the true value of PR, and it’s more accessible to any business,”
“Instead of estimating how many sales a certain week came from a TV spot, you can actually track how many came from a unique link in an online mention. As more businesses realise how easy measuring PR can actually be, I believe more and more people will appreciate and turn to digital PR analytics,” she said.
A sneak peek at some PR analytics and measurements services
Over the past few years, there has been a rush of PR software and applications that are helping PR practitioners capture and measure the true value of their efforts.
For example, Hypefactors, TrendKite, Mention.com and other PR monitoring and measurement services providers have only been established over the past five years. These are companies that were born out of the need and demand from businesses to measure and assign a dollar value on PR.
Janns, who is the brain behind Hypefactors says, “Finally, measuring the value of PR is now possible due to advanced technology and automation.”
And similar to other marketing and communication tools that offer real-time, standardised and objective metrics, measuring the value of PR is slowly and gradually moving towards being backed by objectively measurable and hard data.
At the same time, the availability and widespread use of technology have made it possible to automate many of the once labour-intensive and difficult to measure aspects of PR. Most of these PR measurement companies provide services such as:
- Press release and information distribution – most providers allow for global distribution which gives companies access to new markets that were once not available to them
- Monitoring and tracking – advanced software capabilities make this time intensive task much easier
- Data analysis – granular analysis of data can point out relevant information such as audience reach, influencer and media profiles
- Reporting – what used to be a monthly task can now be done on real-time which gives users the flexibility and opportunity to reach out to the most relevant media and audience, if required
Miller from TrendKite agrees that with new technology and automation tools, emerging PR professionals often view themselves as ‘digital first’.
These new groups of PR practitioners have an understanding of Web analytics and are willing to use new tools that not only measure the brand impact of PR but also measure the digital impact and bottom-line impact as well.
As the detailed metrics used in social media and paid media channels extend their reach to public relations, measuring the value of PR is now becoming more transparent, objective and based on easily-tracked data.
In our next post, we will look at some of the major PR analytics and measurement providers that are helping PR practitioners present data-backed measurement of the true value of PR that they deliver to their companies and to their brands.
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