When client objectives focus on conversions from branded and organic search, demand for Digital PRs surges - and rightly so.
Times have changed. Digital marketing and PR has, in certain arenas, converged, especially when we look at what most people might call SEO. So, what can digital PRs do to stand out in 2020?
2020 will require top level PRs to not only have a thorough understanding of the digital and technological performance of their client’s website, but also to use advanced measurement tools to substantiate the results of their hardworking earned media campaigns; tracking outcomes and demonstrating commercial values, in order to make recommendations that will benefit the client’s bottom line.
If digital PRs are just setting KPIs based on links – then they are at the bottom of the digital PR value chain. It is not 2011 anymore.
Why is this? While links matter, and I mean they really do matter, as they are the number one ranking factor for search engines, digital PRs need to be offering sound strategic search counsel and analytics consultancy, along with being able to earn authoritative links from earned media.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to measurement; some clients will just be interested in correlations between outputs and commercial outcomes, others will want 360 clarity on attribution. For this reason, the best thing to do is roll up your sleeves, get stuck into analytics and learn your way around the various fields of measurement and tools that are available.
What should you be measuring in 2020?
1. Brand awareness – this generates sales and outcomes – so measure it.
2. Non-branded search visibility – this generates leads as well as sales and the links have SEO value, and yes these are driven by links.
3. Reputation – both online and offline reputation is hugely important. It’s a huge area and a blog post in itself but amongst other things, reputation earns links and improves click through rates, and a poor reputation dramatically reduces CTRs.
4. Referral traffic – this generates traffic and often sales.
5. PPC campaigns – volume from this is driven by PR – including brand.
6. Affiliate campaigns – these track skim links from media sources.
7. Links – Yes, you need to measure them too! Just don’t have them as your only KPI
Good measurement is time intensive, requires training and rarely comes cheap. You might also find you need to take your client on a journey and walk them through the in-depth insights which may well be new to them – but being able to prove the value of PR will be invaluable to your business.
Top tips for PRs:
1. Training – rather than bringing in a specialist analytics team, train up your account teams so they can not only do the basics of measurement but can also respond appropriately to client questions themselves.
2. Create a champion – that said, play to the strengths of your team – if certain team members show a particular interest in analytics and grasps the concepts well, nurture that proficiency and create an analytics champion that can handle the most advanced queries.
3. Culture and values - make measurement central to your mission and factor it into strategies from the very beginning.
4. Don’t claim to know all the answers - measurement has a way of asking more questions than it gives answers. You’ll never have all the answers but be open to going on the journey and learn as you go.
PR Agency One has packaged up their own brand measurement offering which now includes three products - OneEval Commercial, OneEval Reputation and OneEval Brand. The agency’s clients use these tools to substantiate the impact of their PR, the company’s performance to date - or both. You can find out about them all here.
James Crawford is the managing director and founder of PR Agency One. He’s been a major champion of measurement for over a decade.