***This blog post originally appeared on CommProBiz***
Whether potential clients or companies we’ve already partnered with, at some point comes the question:
“How do we measure success?”
“What is the ROI for media exposure?”
“Is this working?”
These are fair questions that must be asked, and the answer is the same every time – your ROI depends on your objective. Some organizations retain PR and Marketing firms because they’re looking to achieve some form of conversion, such as a sale or new business lead. Others do so because they seek to use media placements as content for some marketing function, perhaps as signage at a trade show, or as a marketing/sales touchpoint like an e-mail blast. Others evaluate media relations efforts for the SEO and online marketing value they bring, especially when a hyperlink is included.
The point is, each company and organization that retains a firm like ours should know exactly what their objective is prior to engaging, or at least let that become a focal point for strategy discussion.
If it’s e-commerce, or the sale of products via a website, then you may be looking at a two-pronged approach for success. One – how do you create impactful media results that drive interested customers to the website to make a purchase? Two – how do you improve your online search position so that when people Google or conduct other online searches around certain terms, your company name shows up on the first page or within the first few entries?
The former of the two approaches is obvious – to produce media coverage that directly reaches consumers and influences their buying decisions. To this point, no two pieces of media exposure are created equal. If a media relations team secures an article in USA Today, yes, that could drive traffic. But also consider the audience. If the article is about something technical in nature, there’s a very good chance the ROI of said USA Today article could be very low. However, if that very same article were to publish in a blog read by only 8,000 people, but who also happen to be your specific customer type, you could very well garner more sales/conversion from that blog exposure. To this effect – focus on the audience, not the circulation.
With respect to the second approach regarding online search, the value of strong digital content may be difficult to measure per individual piece, but the sum of all efforts most definitely can be quantified. More and more often we work with companies whose primary objective is the search engine optimization (SEO) value of the media coverage we secure on their behalf. Will a hyperlink be included? Will it be chock full of keywords that also mirror the search terms your company wants to rank for? Will these articles show up on the first page of Google? Securing high quality link backs to corporate URLs on a constant basis will ultimately drive traffic for, and interest in, a company.
“Not so fast! My company doesn’t conduct business online. We’re very B2B, and most of our business comes from networking, our sales/marketing team, or (insert some other form of sales process or transaction)”
Let’s take a step back. Despite what some may say about the current state of media, there is still a significant trust that comes with media exposure. Being quoted or featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, NPR, influential trade publications, and others still provide tremendous value. Whether you’re a pre-revenue company seeking investors or a 100-person organization that relies on its sales team, media exposure gives you one crucial asset: touchpoints.
If you’ve ever signed onto LinkedIn and seen a CEO of a competitor posting about being quoted in an important article, that’s a touchpoint. If you’ve ever seen a blog post on a website highlighting “recent media coverage in ________),” that’s a touchpoint. The same can be said for media placements sent via e-mail to shareholders, PDFs of articles sitting on table tops at conferences, and “As Featured By” sections on the front page of a website.
What these examples demonstrate is simple: expertise and relevancy. Media coverage means your company understands its role within its respective market, speaks intelligently to its audience, and understands the value in thought leadership.
Of course, these ideas listed above are not comprehensive public relations strategies, they’re singular tactics desired to achieve specific objectives. Everyone wants (and deserves) to know the value they’re receiving when they commit time and budget to a public relations campaign. By looking in the mirror and asking themselves what they want and need most, companies can attain media exposure that yields both long and short-term return on investment.
Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.