I’m going to tell you something I don’t know if I’ve ever admitted before. It’s not something I ever realized until I saw my colleagues doing it every day. But the simple fact is: public relations is hard work.
I spent the first part of my career in journalism, and being in a newsroom it can be hard to develop an appreciation for PR. Grumbling reporters left me with the impression that their inboxes (real ones at the time but virtual ones now) were littered with press releases from PR flacks who took the shotgun approach to garnering coverage for their clients—that is, send as many releases to as many people as possible and hope something sticks.
It wasn’t until I left the newsroom and started working next to PR professionals—and that’s a keyword here—that I realized how much work went into doing it well. Professional PR practitioners don’t shotgun their releases. Instead, they spend time—a lot of time—researching publications and reporters. They look at what those publications are publishing. They consider the kinds of topics reporters are writing about. They follow those reporters to see what they are talking about on social media. They do all of this so they can be laser-focused and make sure the pitches they do send out are likely to land.
This is called earned media for a reason. It takes a lot of work to secure this coverage.
So, now a question. Now that your team has worked so hard to secure the coverage that can get real attention for your company and build your brand awareness, what are you really going to do with it?
For too many businesses, they earn that coverage, garner that attention, then do… nothing. They want the newfound awareness to lead to new business, but they don’t do anything further to help turn that attention into conversion. It’s like now the word is out, they expect new products orders and services contracts to just magically appear.
The process goes something like this: Someone sees the business mentioned in an article, as a source quoted by a reporter, or, most likely, they read a byline written by one of the company’s thought leaders. They like what they see, so they decide to visit the company website. But once they arrive, they see nothing related to what they just read about. So, they bounce. Leave. Dissatisfied.
A few days or weeks later, they see another mention in the press or a new piece written by different SME in the company. Hopeful, they go back to the company site, again don’t see a connection with what they just read, and once again they bounce.
And on and on and on…
Now, it’s possible that on one of those visits, the person might stick around. They might click on a link that takes them deeper into the site and eventually gets them into the marketing funnel—though it isn’t very likely.
But what if you could give the visitor something compelling to click on, something to keep them on your site long enough to start actually engaging with you? Something that would help you retain all that attention you’ve worked so hard to earn. With a well-thought-out owned media strategy, you can. Such a program lets you build a bridge between your PR program and your marketing program, taking that earned attention and turning it into conversions. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?
What does this kind of program look like? That’s going to depend on who your buyer is and the kind of content they prefer to engage with. But what it’s not is something that’s focused on your products and capabilities. Why not? Because that’s not what got these people to engage with you in the first place.
You earned their attention by sharing smart thoughts and bright ideas, and that’s what you need to do to retain that attention. You build your audience by building an owned media program centered around the type of thought leadership that only you are authentically positioned to deliver. You help build affinity for your brand. You create fans. And it’s those fans who make you part of their consideration set when it’s time to make a purchase. When you do, you’ve built a solid bridge from attention to conversion and have effectively capitalized on the hard work your PR team has been doing.
Jarrett is responsible for the creation and implementation of client content strategy, ensuring not only is the right message being communicated but that it's being communicated in the right places using the right methods.