When you have a message to communicate, crafting a great story is just the first step. So many of us spend far too much time struggling with complicated mailing programs, or switching between multiple tools. Here at PressPage, we believe in making communication easy, so you can spend your time on what matters most. That’s why we’re excited to introduce our new drag-and-drop email editor.
Our goal is to make communication as simple and well-integrated as possible for our customers. The PressPage platform already supports the PR workflow from pitching to publishing to analytics, and this updated functionality means you can save more time while doing more.
The new email editor, just like the newsroom and cases editor, works with drag-and-drop functionality and provides more choices for improved email layouts. Rich media can easily be added so you can share engaging content directly with your readers.
For existing PressPage Mail users, you’ll continue to have flexibility in who you’re contacting, ensuring your outreach stays as straightforward as ever. Upload your own media contacts, let your newsroom visitors subscribe to your newsletters, or browse our integrated media database of over 860,000 unique journalists worldwide.
A new feature in the mail editor saves you time by allowing you to add content from your newsroom cases - including featured image, title, description, and a live link - directly into the email with just a click of the button.
Knowing how your newsletters and pitches are performing is a key part of PR measurement, so we’ve also recently updated the analytics dashboard to ensure you get the insights that are important to you.
Are you already a PressPage Mail user? Just reach out to your account manager to activate your new email editor. If you’re new to PressPage and interested to see how you can improve your PR workflow with our platform, you can request your demo today.
It’s something of a cliche to say that we’re in a rapidly evolving media landscape, but keeping up with its changeable ways is part and parcel of the PR world. When you want to earn coverage and get people talking, understanding how and where to engage people is crucial for spreading your story. This begins with a strategic, prioritized approach to securing earned media.
Earned media is exposure won through media relations: news coverage on- and offline, op-eds, blogs, podcasts, and media discussion of your brand. But there are obviously other tools in your PR kit, each with its own role to play in helping you get earned media coverage. There’s owned media: brand-owned websites, newsrooms, newsletters, social channels, etc. Paid media, like traditional advertising, marketing, and sponsored content. Shared media often refers to social, user/consumer-generated content.
Learn more about how earned media interacts with owned, paid and shared media in our free guide.
It’s common for brands to dedicate a lot of resources to owned and paid media channels. But securing earned media boosts your SEO and builds trust with both your audience and the media. Start with a strategic and pragmatic PR plan to assess what resources are needed to prioritize your earned media goals.
This doesn’t mean neglecting the other parts of your media mix. Utilizing a holistic media mix can build your brand’s audience and credibility, and will yield better coverage in the long run:
Create and curate a well-designed, searchable and SEO-friendly newsroom. PressPage client Ohio Health, for example, saw an 889% rise in their news coverage by maximizing their newsroom’s potential.
Set strict publishing standards to ensure well-written, easily shared, SEO-optimized content.
Paid media still matters. Creative “traditional” ad campaigns can secure a lot of earned media.
Create content with you target audience in mind. The more connected to the story a person feels, the more likely they are to share it.
To secure earned media, a diverse media mix needs to be supported by strategic relationship building and improved media outreach. Spend time researching, get to know your audience, and invest in a good media database that's regularly updated and allows you to search for relevant journalists easily. These are the basics to begin successfully courting the press and influencers, and driving word-of-mouth.
Traditional news and media outlets remain the key way we consume our news. You need to capture journalists’ attention with an effective and inspiring pitch: personalize your outreach and keep it simple, from email design to choice of vocabulary. Get to your ask quickly, and accommodate their needs as best as you can. Most importantly, add value. Journalists have a job to do, and they want to do it well. Be strategic: offer a unique angle, or exclusive content.
Influencers are the Instagrammers, YouTubers, bloggers, podcasters and meme-makers now prominent in our online lives. They offer that “word-of-mouth” authenticity that makes earned media so powerful. Try engaging with influencers through a PR perspective rather than marketing: research influencers aligned with your audience and brand values. Reach out to them with the eventual aim of creating a brand ambassador. Sometimes it’s effective to approach influencers like journalists: newsworthiness might be as enticing for them as a sponsored post.
You want to get people talking on the ground and on social media too: go where your audiences are and get involved yourself. You can try setting up a community forum for deeper engagement. If it’s appropriate for your brand, organizing community events can also be a great way to generate word-of-mouth.
In today’s world, treating earned media as a desirable-but-not-directly-pursued-goal isn’t going to cut it anymore. Plan your approach, optimizing as you go. Each small step that improves one aspect of your media output will steadily lead towards securing more earned media too.
Get started on your earned media strategy today and get your copy of our free guide.
We’ve been touting the importance of the brand storyteller in your company’s newsroom for a while now. But we would be remiss in failing to mention the vital role of the communications editor. In the not-so-far-away past, the communications editor would proof, edit and approve press releases before they were submitted to the media -- catching errors, fixing typos and checking facts.
In today’s busy brand centers, the role of the communications editor has greatly evolved. They now exist as a sort of gatekeeper between a brand’s story and the intended consumer, ensuring not only that the copy is correct and well-written, but that the narrative of the brand is being used strategically, appropriately and effectively. Here are some of the ways the communications editor role has changed in recent years.
We all enjoy occasionally correcting a stranger’s spelling on Facebook. But for editors, mastery of their language is the key to success. The best editors are whizzes when it comes to knowing AP Style, understanding proper citations, and making spelling bee champs envious of their dictionary-like knowledge. Spelling and grammar will always be the cornerstone of a communications editor’s work, but that foundation also gives them the opportunity to build something even greater: an amazing story.
As narrative becomes ever more important to a brand’s success, editors have to be experts not only in language, but in storytelling. Rather than checking a press release for errors, they must also check to make sure it is written in the proper tone and voice, and conveys the kind of message they want the audience to hear.
When you’re editing a traditional press release, it’s easy to figure out the who’s going to be reading it. Media outlets, journalists and editors will all be on the receiving end of your releases, determining if they’re interested in covering the news. Beyond that, how they tell the story is up to them. Thankfully, this tired old model has finally shifted. Because, shouldn’t you be telling your brand’s story the way it ought to be told? The key to telling it correctly is understanding your audience.
Communications editors are helping to craft brand assets that are more effective and more engaging because they are creating them based on the backgrounds, desires and interests of the audience. For instance, let’s say your brand storyteller puts together a digital release written in a youthful voice, containing images pre-sized for social media platforms. Who’s going to respond more favorably: the Instagram influencer or the newspaper editor? As communications editor, it’s your job to understand who’s receiving, so you can make sure you’re giving what they need.
We are living in a tumultuous time for our national and even global media. With cries of “fake news” and allegations of bias, spin and unethical reporting on the rise, the communications editor must now step into the role of fact-checker extraordinaire. And while no communications editor worth his or her salt would knowingly disperse incorrect information, utilizing reputable sources and citing verifiable facts is more important than ever. Beyond telling your brand’s story, you must also consider your brand’s reputation—ensuring accuracy and avoiding mistakes goes a long way toward keeping it protected.
Now more than ever, nearly all brands rely on social media to share their stories. Communications editors today must have an understanding for each of the popular platforms—knowing who their users are, when they’re online, and what they’re posting. Editing content for Instagram is going to look, sound and feel a lot different than content for LinkedIn (even within the same brand).
Ultimately, the communications editor will contribute to reinforce the brand’s credibility and authenticity among its audience. In order to do this, the editor must wear many hats. Storyteller, proofreader, marketing analyst, social guru, and wordsmith, just to name a few. They may be responsible for everything from creating strategy to generating content to writing brand guidelines. No matter what the task, their singular goal is to distribute content that supports the brand’s mission and upholds its values through the story it tells.
The times are certainly changing inside the brand newsroom, especially for the communications editor. Once seen as word nerds with red pens gleefully marking up press releases, these multipurpose, multitasking wizards are now integral and meaningful voices adding to the chorus of your brand’s story.
If the old saying, “any press is good press,” is true, getting a business’s name in the news, no matter how it’s done, is key to its success. Of course, that adage isn’t true, and in today’s 24-hour news cycle, what makes headlines is often not the kind of coverage anyone would want for their brand. Scandal and controversy increase click-throughs, boost ratings and sell papers, so a feel-good story may not get the attention it deserves.
Enter brand journalism, the darling of content creators and savvy PR specialists. Brand journalism is a strategy to generate content that is relevant and meaningful to an audience and provide them with information on an industry or related topics without selling them anything. Paired with a smart social media strategy, brand journalism can build relationships with a customer base, increase loyalty and, eventually, lead to a greater conversion rate.
Here are a few of the connections between social strategy and brand journalism and some methods to implement these tactics to start making headlines… of your own.
Think about your industry, and the challenges it faces. Your business likely offers products or services that solve these challenges. That’s the “what.” Now, think about the “why.” Why do these challenges exist within your industry? Why is your business in a position to offer a unique perspective on these issues? The key to brand journalism is taking a step back from selling your products and services, and a step toward journalistic reporting on the industry subjects that impact your audience.
For instance, Disney, discovered its audience – not the children watching their programming, but their moms – was looking for resources on parenting and a place to connect, so the company made the decision to purchase the online magazine and blog Babble, where it could control the content without making it a direct sales opportunity. Disney backed off on pitching its “what” (kid-friendly content) and instead focused on the “why” (why parenting is such a difficult job) and then gave readers content they could use.
Every industry has its own jargon or lingo, and as we know, the realm of marketing also has a very distinct lexicon. To be an effective brand journalist, you’re going to have to rethink your vocabulary. If you’re managing your brand’s social media accounts, you might have already done this to a certain extent. Perhaps you’ve adjusted to the more casual language of Instagram and Facebook, or the micro content of Twitter. That’s a great start. But if you’ve been using your social platforms to pitch products and run promotions, you’re going to have to rethink the language and the tone you use. Brand journalism, in its truest form, operates much like traditional journalism – think unbiased opinions and fact-based reporting. And while there’s certainly room to incorporate your brand’s personality, the goal is to create relationships, not create conversions.
To make content memorable to audience members, narrative is key. When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, FedEx sent a team to participate in relief efforts, and embedded a brand journalist in the crew. The journalist shared photos, videos and other content via FedEx’s social media platforms, which were picked up by news outlets across the country. FedEx built a story around what they were doing and used the narrative to engage with their audience outside of their typical sales and marketing efforts.
Social media allows brands to share their stories in a variety of ways – through video, images, infographics and more. As a bonus, followers can engage with and become a part of that story through reactions, comments and shares. Provide a story your audience will get lost in, and create a relationship built on trust and respect.
You may not have the budget for a team of brand journalists, but there are sure to be untapped resources within your company. Seek out employees who are active on social media and have strong followings. They may not necessarily be considered “influencers,” but their voice is loud, and it is heard. Recruit these employees to act as your brand ambassadors. Leverage their reach to engage with new audiences and push your content out to new channels. Consider creating pre-written brand journalism content they can easily share, through social posts, landing pages and blogs.
It’s tough to be fair and unbiased when reporting on your own industry. And if you’re in a field where humor or personality is slim, it can feel like the content you’re creating is dry and dull. Consider thinking of your brand journalism efforts as “edu-tainment” instead – the combination of educational material and entertaining storytelling. This is a strategy that lends itself naturally to social media, where it’s important to engage with your audience on a human, emotional level. At the same time, be sure to balance that humanity with content that educates and informs on issues that matter.
Make no mistake: a strong social media strategy is no replacement for brand journalism. This is a unique form of marketing that requires careful thought and planning. However, the combination of brand journalism’s meaningful content and social media’s reach and unique storytelling style can create a powerful marketing tool that lends credibility and relatability to your brand.
As earned content becomes more difficult to acquire, brand journalism, shared via social media, is a useful avenue to getting your brand, its mission and achievements in front of a broader audience.
From a Kardashian sister promoting a meal replacement shake to a once-funny meme account suddenly hashtagging every other post with “#ad”, there is no doubt that influencer marketing is currently driving a huge amount of content production - and brand value. But as regulators crack down on sponsored content and consumers grow evermore brand-savvy, influencer marketing is shifting from straightforward advertising to mutually-beneficial ambassadorship.
Influencer marketing used to be very cut-and-dried: find an account on a social media channel with a large following - let’s say 50,000 people? Send them a message, and offer payment in exchange for posting about your products. With a basic trackable URL, you could count click-throughs to your product pages and measure the ROI of your venture into influencer marketing. Done!
But consumers grew wary: as ever more ads filled our timelines, influencer marketing started losing its feeling of authenticity, looking too much like affiliate advertising. The trust between an influencer and their followers aspires towards transparency. Followers need to perceive such posts as earned media - an influencer’s genuine response to a product or brand, not “just another ad”. This poses major questions about the true value of earned media - and how we might define it in the future.
More and more organisations are shifting their influencer marketing strategies away from their Marketing departments and towards PR. Influencers are perfectly positioned between the media and the word-of-mouth authenticity their followers crave. And crucially, they are individuals with their own audience, aspirations and motivations. It's time to stop treating them as just another advertising opportunity and instead approach them with a PR mindset:
Build trust. Connect to their audience. Create mutually-beneficial relationships.
Influencers are the new media. Engaging with them through a PR framework can yield better results and stronger connections. Start shifting your approach today:
This is the moment for PR professionals to own the influencer engagement process. Expertise in establishing relationships has never been more valuable. Build a trusting relationship with an influencer and you can, in turn, build a trusting relationship with your audience.
Want to start looking for the right influencers? The PressPage integrated Media Database contains over 820,000 global influencers and media contacts. Ask us about it here.
You’ve heard of SEO. You’ve participated in a company workshop about it, and have read some tips online, but you’re still not fully comfortable with it. Well, now is the time to embrace and engage with Search Engine Optimization: it is no longer a niche, technical topic, but a core foundation for your PR and business strategies.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing your online content to improve visibility in search engine rankings. As more and more people turn to “googling” to find products and information, SEO is more crucial than ever: the top five search results per Google search get up to 70% of all clicks.
Looking for a more in-depth guide? download our free ebook on the role of SEO in PR.
There are some key phrases you’ll need to understand as you begin your SEO approach:
Search rankings determine where your content appears in the search results for specific keywords. This, in turn, suggests how many people will click to visit your page. SEO experts usually focus on three areas to boost rankings: relevancy, trust, and user signals.
Selecting the right keywords is where all SEO efforts begin, and they can often inspire your entire PR strategy. Consider your brand identity and market placement, then identify the keywords you want to be ranked for. Your SEO efforts will aim at bringing you up to the top of the search results for that keyword.
There are three types of keywords to consider: head, body and long tail.
Backlinks are hyperlinks leading back to your site when your brand or your product is mentioned on another website. Backlinks are a critical factor determining your authority and trustworthiness, both key elements for climbing the search rankings.
Branded content in your online newsroom or corporate blog can have a positive impact on SEO. PR can work alongside content marketing to use keywords strategically and earn backlinks. Even when optimizing for search engines, real readers should remain the target for your content. This means creating newsworthy, engaging stories for your audience, on a regularly updated platform.
Building relationships with journalists remains essential for PR professionals. Once you’ve found the right story, maximize your possibilities for coverage - and valuable backlinks - by pitching it to the right people. PressPage has a media and influencer database of over 820,000 contacts that you can use as a reference to get your story out effectively. The circular nature of the relationship between SEO and earned media becomes apparent as soon as you begin optimizing; by talking with the right people, your owned media channels become increasingly visible - and valuable.
Every small step you take in SEO is worthwhile: SEO is crucial for business success in today’s digital landscape and it will likely only grow in importance. Start with the most basic elements of SEO and make sure your online presence, newsroom, and websites are SEO-friendly. More than just another PR tactic, SEO is rapidly becoming an important business goal in its own right. As a PR professional, now is the time to embrace SEO and the value it will add to your PR strategies.
Get started with your SEO efforts right now: download our free guide "The Role of SEO in PR" today.
Every business or organization has a unique story to tell, and oftentimes a strong public relations, or PR, strategy is undervalued as one of the tools to share it. Developing strategic PR is crucial for creating brand awareness and promoting engaging content that consumers actually want to read. But let’s start with the basics of what a PR strategy is, why you need it, and how you can create one. You can also get a copy of our free ebook: "Setting Up a PR Plan".
A PR strategy is used to help your business organize its public relations (or media relations) activities and make strategic decisions about the best way to communicate with its target audience. The development and implementation of a PR strategy can assist brands in not only generating interest from the press in their products or services but also help to organize the many stories brands have that resonate with their diverse audiences. If a strategy is implemented well, it will serve as a tool to help manage the public perception of an organization.
PR or “earned media” can be used to drive website traffic, engage and connect with target audiences, make connections within the community, and promote brands in a more organic way that people trust. Utilizing media outlets in this way is important for attracting more potential customers or clients while creating brand awareness.
And, with a solid PR strategy in place, business goals and activities are easier to share with target audiences. The strategy directs [an often multichannel] approach to communicating the main message, which assists in maximizing efforts and generating awareness. This influences branding and marketing as well as an organization’s perception during a crisis because brands that succeed in sharing their goals and wins on a regular basis are more likely to be seen in a positive light even when experiencing a setback.
Ultimately, a PR strategy is created through storytelling. This is your chance to tell your audience about who you are, what you do, and why you should matter to them. Every story should lead back to the “why” of your business. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why should people care? After considering your “why”, the most important thing to do is to set your end goal.
Initiating a PR strategy without the end game in mind can be problematic, especially for sales-driven companies with very tangible quarterly and annual revenue goals. These goals can be quantitative or qualitative in nature, depending on what is the most reasonable way to measure your success.
Regardless of the nature of the goal, keep in mind it should be specific, measurable and assign a deadline for evaluation. A popular goal setting equation to consider is “To get from ________ to ________ by ________ (date).”
Different audiences tend to spend time in different places. Consider the target audience for Brand A, a popular coffee shop predominantly found in college towns across the United States. Brand A focuses their PR efforts with online media like BuzzFeed because it is targeting college-age men and women who spend the majority of their free time on their mobile device. By confirming the audience, PR pros can better identify targeted media outlets, which will pave the way for more targeted pitches and interesting stories to share.
With the audience and targeted media outlets defined, communicators can more easily determine [and share!] the brand’s story. The story should include key messages that are tied back to the brand’s values and mission as well as to the reputation the brand either already has or aspires to achieve through the PR strategy. Consider building a newsroom that incorporates each of the key messages for the target audience into bite-sized or easy to skim articles with the intention of capturing website visitors and encouraging longer website visits and multiple page views.
Remember, it’s not enough to say who or what the brand is, but the brand must act on its assertions and live out it’s values outside of articles and news releases. When the sentiment of an article is mirrored on ratings and reviews or social updates, it begins to become truth in the eyes of the consumer. In general, consumers can tell when brands are not authentic or do not live up to their brand values. So, put your money where your mouth is and be who you say you are — or expect to be outed on social media faster than you can tweet an apology.
Today’s consumer receives their news and content from a multitude of sources including social media, blogs and podcasts. A good PR strategy extends beyond the reach of traditional journalism and courts target audiences where they are already going to get their information.
But, at its heart, a solid PR strategy still relies on the development of relationships between the PR pro (brand voice) and the media contact (amplifier). Whether working with a small market fashion blogger or a reporter from The New York Times, a good relationship can make the difference between reading an email or clicking delete.
Getting started with your own plan? Get our free guide: “Setting Up a PR Plan”
PR is all about situating your brand within the bigger picture. But as with any job, the day-to-day demands of your role often serve to distract you from that big picture. This is where a PR plan steps in, helping to navigate and prioritize your efforts for greater impact.
Obviously, every brand is different, but there are some common components shared by all successful PR strategies. Let’s take a quick look at these steps together, and how each one of them will benefit your PR plan. If you want to look at each of these factors in more depth, check out our free PR Plan ebook.
Assessing the situation
Setting up goals and objectives
Identifying your audiences
Creating key messages
Identifying tactics and channels
Planning the budget
Measuring the results
Analyzing your business’ current situation is the baseline for all PR plans. Working alongside stakeholders like Marketing, Product, Commercial, and Customer Support, PR can get a complete overview of the business situation, and the markets or environments that you’re operating in.
Every PR activity in your plan should be accompanied by clearly stated goals and desired outcomes, such as increasing web traffic, newsletter subscriptions and share of voice on social media. Not only will these goals help keep you on track, measuring and analyzing your results can inform your future PR plans.
Once you’ve gained a solid overview of your business’ current standing and goals, the next step for your PR plan is identifying your audience. Who are your customers and why do they use your product/service? What kind of media do they consume? Once you answer those questions, you can also identify audience influencers to target in future outreach efforts.
Hot on the heels of your audience research comes the creation of a key message: what story will resonate the most with them? What do you want and need to tell them? Keep it short, simple, and adaptable. Key messages are the anchor that keeps all your communication unified and consistent, and drives all the messaging on your other PR channels.
With so many methods nowadays for sharing your story, it’s important to acknowledge that you don’t have to do them all. Instead, identify the channels where your target audiences spend their time, and what tactics will get you the most value.
Common PR channels include:
A central newsroom or media center
What tools and resources will you need to put your PR plan into action? Research and prioritize where your spend your budget. PR teams commonly allocate budgets for tools, (paid) channels, events, and agencies.
The old adage is true: “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Up your future PR game by learning from your current approach. While brand awareness isn’t exactly the easiest thing to measure, you can track your website’s traffic, SEO, and share of voice on both traditional and social media.
How can you best measure and analyze your results for future improvement? Read our guide on using Google Analytics for PR.
These fundamentals can help any organization in setting an effective PR strategy, each step informing the next. Establishing a clear plan for your PR goals will prove invaluable in building your brand and connecting with your customers.
Check out our full ebook, ‘Setting up a PR Plan’ for an in-depth look at each aspect of a successful PR plan.
The concept of an online newsroom is nothing new to communicators. While content may differ from one organization to another, the premise is the same: a communications hub that connects the organization with its audiences. However, in today’s world the newsroom has expanded into a global hub of information and through channels such as social media, sharing news and stories is faster and reaches more people than ever before. With this increased consumption rate and larger potential audience reach abounds new questions, challenges, and opportunities. So, here are several tips on how to develop and maintain a global newsroom in today’s fast-paced digital world.
Any worthwhile content marketing strategy starts with a goal and online newsrooms are one channel of content distribution that should be leveraged in an overall strategy. Consider the impact the newsroom should have on targeted audiences. Is it to educate people who have just discovered the brand? Engage with subscribers? Build loyalty with customers? Once the newsroom’s main purpose within the content strategy is defined, the targeted audience becomes much clearer—which assists brand journalists and corporate communicators in writing engaging content.
This is true for a global newsroom, too. However, there is more than one target audience to be considered. What may be relevant content to someone in Canada may not be of interest to someone in Japan. While the overall goal may be the same, the audience is segmented, and content must be developed for each segment based upon their unique attributes, interests, and behaviors as discovered in website analytics or other research.
With a global audience, content can come from anywhere so it’s important to centralize editorial from one location (usually a headquarters) and structure content production with an editorial calendar. With one person or team in charge of the global newsroom’s content production, a process for distribution assignments, editing, and publishing can be created and enforced so all content flows through one central hub.
Not only does this allow for greater publishing and brand voice control, but it keeps the wheels from falling off a content strategy left up to contributors to write “as they can.” The editorial calendar keeps brand journalists on schedule and on point, aligning closely with the content marketing strategy of the organization.
Odds are a brand journalist in France will better communicate with a French audience than a writer in the United States or even Canada. Each country and region have unique languages and dialects that must be considered if a newsroom has been charged with reaching an international audience. For example, American audience members are able to read articles written by Australian or Scottish writers, but they may not understand particular slang or analogies and there could be confusion over differences in spelling. By leveraging local expertise and hiring writers who live and work in a targeted market, organizations can more effectively communicate their story.
Once newsroom content is outlined, scheduled, assigned, and completed, it’s ready to be published and shared with target audiences. But, simply adding the content to the global newsroom will not achieve this critical point in the process. For audience members who are already familiar with the organization, content they are interested in must be easy to find. This can be achieved by incorporating content categories that indicate the type of information visitors can expect to uncover within a category (i.e., Investor News, Customer Stories, Community Involvement, etc.).
In addition, because a global newsroom’s audience is so diverse and geographically spread out, it’s helpful to offer content in multiple languages so visitors can quickly identify articles they can read without asking for a translation.
Newsroom content that is organized and easy to digest is perfectly suited for promotion through email marketing to subscribers and social media updates to fans and followers.
By monitoring which pieces of content receive the most click-throughs from the newsroom, email marketing and social media, organizations can begin to develop assumptions on the types of content that work best for their audiences. With review of newsroom analytics as well as social media and email marketing insights, brands can create editorial calendars that are targeted and optimized for consumption. Some key metrics to review on a regular basis include pages/articles with the highest amount of traffic (pay attention to those with high bounce rates and those with lower bounce rates), newsroom visitor behavior (i.e., After they read one article, do they leave the site or read another?), and the time spent on each page/article.
It’s difficult to track “trends” over a short period of time, but organizations who have been producing content in a global newsroom for longer than six months should be able to make some high-level assumptions that could lead to better results down the road.
And remember, always measure how the content is impacting the greater goal identified first in this article. Whether an organization is looking to grow its number of subscribers or reach an audience that’s never heard of them before, success depends on how the content impacts data connected to the strategic goal. Have the number of subscribers gone up since the global newsroom organized content production and leveraged local expertise? Is website traffic as a whole up versus prior year? These are important questions to consider when attempting to discover whether or not the global newsroom is making an impact of the overall business goals of the organization.
If PR professionals want to increase media engagement (and who doesn’t?), they have to do more than crank out basic press releases and send them to every journalist they can find. With PR professionals far outnumbering journalists, it’s more important than ever to get the message right at the start.
Corporate communicators and PR professionals can increase media engagement by using these smart techniques: crafting better press releases, embracing brand journalism, adding value, attending events and creating connections.
Snappy and concise press releases win the day. Use short chunks of text, answer the who, what, when, where and why — and don’t include much beyond that. Keep the press release brief and stick to one subject. Interested journalists will respond to learn more, but they don’t have time to pore over multiple pages to find the point. Include low-res images with links to high-quality images to avoid hogging inbox resources. No one wants to work with the PR rep who fills up their email inboxes with several massive files. Don’t forget the contact info so a journalist knows where to turn if they have more questions.
Skip the dry, boring and bland corporate descriptions. If you want to increase your media engagement and draw in journalists, your content has to be interesting. Combine different forms of media, such as videos and images, to add depth. Mix up social network posts with videos and images sized for each specific network.
Don’t produce content for the sake of producing content. Every social media post, YouTube or Vimeo upload and blog post should build up to a compelling story. How do you make the story appealing? Find new ways to tell it. Pushing out blog post after blog post or LinkedIn post after tweet after Facebook post won’t go anywhere if the material lacks substance. Develop and share engaging content journalists can’t help but notice. Keep it real and relevant. Journalists are looking for shareability. Will your content supply it?
Schedule events as you normally do, but this time, do more than simply badger journalists afterward with your five-minute pitch. Try to find common ground and build up from there. Journalists are busy. With a whole room of people to chat with, why should someone care about the brand you represent? Be memorable for being genuine and work at creating a better, stronger relationship with the reporters you meet.
Be responsive. If a journalist reaches out for more information, provide the information fast. If you promised B-roll, images or a bio to a reporter during the event, follow through on those promises promptly. Only reach out during typical business hours to the journalist’s work email (not a personal email and not via social media). Provide better quotes and interviews when a journalist beckons, and you won’t only deepen the relationship — but you could be the person a journalist turns to when working on their next story. Connect with journalists you work with on Twitter and converse accordingly to craft a mutually beneficial relationship — just leave the corporate pitches off social media.
Never before have there been so many tools available for PR pros to use to tell the story of a brand. If you want journalists to engage with your media, you need to create the type of collaborative environment where it can happen. Pitch your story to the right outlets, follow up fast and build those relationships. Put the journalist first to foster trust and you’ll have journalists eager to work with you and share your message.
Learn more about how other brands are increasing media engagement at www.presspage.com/customers.
It’s easy to get intimidated with analytics when you start your PR career. Brand awareness, trust, and relationship building aren't straightforward metrics that are easily measured.
There are many different KPIs used including AVE, total reach and impressions to measure the overall potential of PR strategies. But PR professionals are often asked to dive in a little deeper and provide quantitative proof showing PR’s role in sales and business growth. This is where Google Analytics can play a role.
While not the perfect PR measurement tool, Google Analytics allows you to analyze online user demographics, behavior, interests, interactions, and more which are very important metrics to have when proving the value of your activities. In this article, we’ll cover some of the elements of GA that are most beneficial for PR teams.
Before we dive in, let’s go over some fundamentals that will help you start off on the right foot:
Know what’s the end goal of your PR channels, especially your newsroom. Does it exist to get more leads, increase reach, boost website traffic, or does it have a completely different goal?
Make sure you have defined your target audience, objectives, KPIs, and positioning.
Understand the limitations. Google Analytics won’t measure the lifetime value of an earned media. Use the metrics GA gives you to guide your PR campaigns, by bridging credible data with business outcomes.
Regular media monitoring and research (including surveys, focus groups, and social media monitoring) are essential to measure emotional appeal which allows you to collect more qualitative PR metrics.
Google Analytics records every source that points someone to your website. It’s your job to correlate this data to audience behavior by investigating each link.
While GA cannot quantify sentiments, trust or awareness, it can show the visitor journey from first exposure to goal completion if you use the right tracking methods.
The free GA platform tracks 10 million hits––activities happening on your site like page visits, blog comments, link clicks––per month and is updated every 4 hours.
You can identify who is already engaging with your digital properties using Google Analytics’ Audience tab, under All Website Data.
It’s crucial to remember GA has limitations when being used for PR measurement. Google Analytics functions as a tool to analyze website traffic, while the goal of PR is to build relationships and ultimately boost brand awareness and perception.
For PR activities, we can only track tactics like higher web traffic, newsletter sign-ups, blog comments. This means we must collect data from different sections to prove the coverage led to an increase in CTA clicks (a potential goal), and in turn, is helping the business bottom line.
As you start using GA and begin tracking your campaigns in the platform, you’ll often find these three terms repeated: User, session and interactions. What do they mean?
User: A unique identifier assigned to a browser of every device. Google Analytics uses this data to differentiate between new and returning visitors.
Side note - some users may clear their browser cookies before visiting your site again. When this happens, Google will show this returning visitor as a new one.
Interactions: Here, you’ll see how visitors interact with your site in the form of hits… from blog comments to contact form completions. This is an important feature to filter out high-value pages from poorly-optimized ones.
GA tracks a variety of different metrics, and each one can give you a bit of extra insight into your audience and how they’re interacting with your content. Here are a few of the key metrics that matter most. Remember, keep your goals specific and measurable so you can get meaningful results when reviewing these metrics.
A word of caution: Google gives a representative sample of the data if you create a custom report. This can lead to discrepancies in perception and feedback within your team. Refer to this handy guide for best practices.
This is the first step to creating an effective GA campaign. As the name suggests, you get a surface level breakdown of the who, what, when, where, and how of visitor activity on your site.
Pro tip: You can create custom tags to directly monitor and link your PR activities to results using UTM tagging. For the few brave souls with technical know-how, here’s your guide to set it up.
Location: All Website Data/Home
This metric highlights how many pages a user visited in a single session. A significant indicator to determine if they’re engaged with your brand.
Here you’ll get the average time a visitor spends on your site. You’ll want to strive for a period which goes beyond 2 minutes. Another metric, called bounce rate, shows a percentage of visitors who leave after visiting only one page. The lower the rate, the better job you're doing at keeping them engaged.
With these metrics, you can get some insight into understanding what products/services your visitors are interested in, which devices they’re using to browse your website, and what age group and gender they fall under.
‘New vs Returning Visitors’
The percentage of new visitors (combined with an increase in total visitors) is an indication that you're increasing brand awareness, whereas the percentage of returning visitors shows if your existing audience is staying engaged and keeps coming back. PR teams often aim for a healthy percentage of returning visitors to their newsroom, to identify if the target media is regularly coming back for brand-related news (like press releases).
Location: Audience/Behavior/New vs Returning
Since this will be your first face-off with GA, you must set up goals in the form of events––i.e. specific predefined actions visitors take once on your site. For example, you could track how many users who visit your release end up downloading your presskit. This will also help your team tie in your PR activities to business outcomes.
Referrals reveal which sites, blogs, and social media channels send people to your site AND entice them to stay. You can also spot channels with lower bounce rates, better pages/session count and longer session periods.
Location: Acquisition/All Traffic/Referrals
Use this metric to measure evolution and improvement of your PR goal (say, social media engagement) over a period of different time frames. You’ll know whether your PR plan is contributing to the audience and brand growth.
Bonus tip: You can connect Answer The Client, a free third-party tool, to determine the traffic your press coverage sends to a specific site.
Every touchpoint in a visitor’s unique online journey matters. And PR professionals cannot personalize messaging unless we understand their digital behavior and interaction with our brand and market.
Attribution modeling in GA is a system which credits channels responsible for conversions and ROI. This makes analyzing visitor journeys easier by providing insights on events that guide the target audience from brand exposure, awareness, acceptance to action.
There are six GA attribution models used to map the buyer journey until a visitor converts and takes the desired action.
To understand the different attribution models, let’s take an example: suppose a visitor interacts with your brand in this order: Twitter post –> PR coverage –> email –> company blog post–> direct visit.
Let’s find out which of the five channels gets credit within different attribution models.
First click (single touch): Here Google gives 100% credit to the first touch point, which is the Twitter post from our example.
Last touch (single touch): This model only acknowledges the last event––direct visit––which triggered the conversion. From a visitor to a subscriber or follower or client based on your objectives.
Last non-direct (single touch): When you use this model, Google doesn’t count direct visits and assigns all the credit to the last non-direct event––company blog post––that encouraged a visitor to act.
Linear (multi-touch): This model assigns equal attribution to every touch point in a buyer journey. So, all five touch points get 20% credit each.
Time decay (multi-touch): Higher credits are given to events closer to the final conversion. So, the Twitter post gets 5% credit while direct visit receives 45%.
U-shaped (multi-touch): Google gives greater attribution (40%) to first and last channels––Twitter post and direct visit––while the rest––PR coverage, email, and company blog post––get an equal portion out of the remaining 20%.
Google Analytics attribution models are essential to discover:
What resonates with your target audience at each stage of their online journey.
Which PR channels push visitors from targets to ambassadors.
How to create a smart PR campaign using the right digital channels.
Which touch point deserves what percentage of your PR budget.
Why some channels perform better than the rest in goal conversion.
Although GA collects the right tangible parameters––traffic, referrals, site behavior, it isn’t the perfect tool for PR (yet). Be sure to correlate these tangible metrics with the core of PR (awareness, identity, vision) to get meaningful, accurate results.
Implementing GA for effective PR measurement isn’t an easy task, but it will help you in demonstrating PR’s value in an organizational hierarchy.
Great stories deserve an audience, but as a PR team it’s tough finding the right people to reach out to. This is why we’re excited to announce the latest update to our platform - the integration of the Agility media database.
The media database is a list of over 800,000 journalists, bloggers, influencers and other media contacts who have opted-in to the database. It’s powered and maintained by Agility PR Solutions, whose research team makes daily updates and keeps the list up to date. In-depth information on each contact is included, as well such as beat, media type, location, language, and more.
PressPage users who have access to the database will be able to find relevant media contacts using advanced search and filter options. You’ll be able to segment your search based on options such as subjects, languages, locations, and many more. You can then create contact lists to compile,save, and manage the relevant audiences.
This latest update not only helps PR teams save time, it also makes building new relationships and increasing your reach easier. Combining the media database into your existing PressPage process means you’ll be able to simplify a larger part of your workflow. Publish content on your newsroom, find the right audience, reach out, and analyze engagement - all in the same platform.
If you’re already using PressPage, you can click here to request a demo, or reach out to your Customer Success Manager.
Not using PressPage yet? Reach out to us here if you’d like to have a chat about our platform’s functionalities and how we’re helping brands around the world like Booking.com, Porsche and Logitech. You can also request a free trial for our newsroom here.
Not long ago, a brand newsroom editor pushed positive but often bland, corporate-toned pieces to the brand’s newsroom.
But that’s no longer the case in today’s online-driven, hyper media-consuming world.
And while each company may have a different purpose or strategy for the newsroom, the ultimate goal remains the same — to communicate on behalf of the brand to its external audiences.
The new corporate newsroom managing editor has a different set of responsibilities today that didn’t exist 15 years ago.
With a 24-hour news cycle, citizen reporters breaking news on a regular basis, and “fake news” headlines capturing more attention than the truth, brands are fighting not just within their industry or region for the attention of their audiences but across categories.
Hence, the introduction of brand journalism. Brands have to find a way to communicate who they are, what they do and what they believe in that goes beyond an earnings report or product launch announcement.
Make no mistake – brand journalism entails different tasks for different brands and different communicators.
It’s not exactly marketing and it’s not entirely journalism, but it’s not solely blogging either. It’s a combination of all three skills (and then some). And it's more important than ever in the Public Relations professional's toolset.
Brand journalism promotes compelling, upbeat stories about a company to more than one audience, often in more than one format.
The rise of brand journalism has fundamentally changed the role of the newsroom managing editor.
They no longer assign or write the same old press releases to send to the same media outlets.
Instead, each piece of content is geared towards a particular type of customer (persona) or to the media outlets who provide fodder for the type of customer the company wants to reach.
Hi-res images, creative and standard executive headshots, logo or product shots, linked high-profile media mentions, contact information and a sleek digital media kit are a few other pieces of the newsroom puzzle a managing editor keeps updated and organized.
But this time, each item is targeted for a distinctive buyer’s persona or audience.
A company newsroom manager ensures varied types of content are available for the people who want it when they want it.
Whatever the content, this type of editor still shares articles or other media to show off the company in the best possible light.
The corporate newsroom editor also understands what the newsroom needs to achieve for the best results.
Whether they are keeping the site updated with relevant, positive company news or revealing a favorable mention in a high-profile publication, the editor invests time in learning how to reach the target market best.
Producing content for a social media influencer would require a different type of material and tone than working with a traditional print publication or providing updates to consumers.
A one-size-fits-all, batch and blast approach no longer works.
No matter what the company’s latest news — whether it is a new executive hire, the launch of a fresh product or a keynote speech at a big-name conference — the newsroom managing editor will get the word out to the media outlets who care about the information and prominently share the news on the company newsroom for all audiences to consume.
An effective company managing editor emphasizes the best parts of the company for the world to see.
The new company managing editor won’t blast press releases everywhere and hope something sticks.
Instead, they send content where it fits best before highlighting it within the newsroom to snag social shares and benefit the brand’s reputation.
And, should the worst-case scenario become a reality, the newsroom managing editor provides quick updates to relay accurate information and smooth over any crisis, whether it’s actual or perceived, becoming the trusted source of updates for all impacted audience members.
Showcasing the most engaging content for the right audience is hard. Make it simple. Try PressPage for a riveting newsroom made easy.
A new client, product, service or announcement can be cause for media research.
From databases to Internet search queries, Twitter and everything in between, research can be time consuming and inefficient.
So, here are five steps to ensure the next time you sit down to create a new media contact or distribution list, you are able to maximize your time and improve your results.
One of the biggest mistakes PR professionals make either due to inexperience or a lack of time, is assuming the same media contacts they reached out to regarding the previous announcement or opportunity will be interested in the next one.
It’s critical to re-examine the target audience for the announcement before beginning media research of any kind.
Who are you trying to reach? Why would they be interested in your news?
Once you’ve determined who the target audience is, consider where this group goes to get news and information.
Of these media outlets, which are likely to be interested in your story or announcement?
Creating a realistic contact list from the get-go will help efforts stay focused and will reduce the risk of sending press releases to the wrong person or the wrong outlet, saving time (and face).
Simply pulling a list of media outlets and media contacts from a database doesn’t really count as “research.”
Of those collected, it’s imperative to dig into each contact to confirm their current employer and their beat. It’s impossible for a media contacts database to stay 100 percent up-to-date, 100 percent of the time.
Use this contact information as a starting point and work to verify it through media outlet and Internet searches.
Don’t forget about social media! Most reporters and columnists are active on Twitter, which is a great way to not only get a feel for who they are and what they’re interested in but also to see headlines they’ve penned in recent days.
Take some time to verify search results and initiate engagement before sending the press release or story idea.
The strength of a media contacts list isn’t in its length but, rather, its reputation and audience reach.
While a list of 100 media contacts may yield coverage in more media outlets than a list of 20, the more targeted list will reach the right audience faster and with the right message, providing better results.
Keep in mind the number of email address subscribers or unique site visitors per month are great to track but mean very little when it comes to measuring success.
Smarter media research and outreach can take more time, but in the long run it provides better results and increases PR efficiencies.
It’s a deeper, more targeted approach to spreading the word that not only improves awareness and engagement but also works to build genuine media relationships that can last beyond a one-off announcement or pitch.
When it comes to measuring success, public relations and corporate communications professionals tend to get the short end of the stick.
Unlike digital marketers who can measure the cost per acquisition (CPA), click-throughs and campaign referral traffic, PR has traditionally been measured by key performance indicators (KPIs) such as media coverage reputation, potential readership/viewership and coverage sentiment.
Three pretty obscure metrics that, in at least one case, are simply defined as “positive, negative or neutral.” And, with all the advances in technology today, there has to be a better way to measure success.
So, here’s a list of five KPIs for PR pros worth noting, focusing and reporting on to improve visibility and, in the end, results.
Admittedly, this isn’t an exact science, but the number of possible impressions provides context to the coverage.
Whether the focus is circulation numbers or unique visitors per month (UVPM), coverage from news sites and publications with a higher number of potential impressions tend to hold more weight, especially when reaching a key target audience or demographic.
And remember, coverage by one major media outlet can often be matched by multiple pieces of coverage by several smaller outlets.
The goal is to spread the word to the right folks where they are looking for news and information as often as possible.
One of the major benefits of marketing and PR efforts working hand-in-hand is the ability to align and measure efforts across the board.
Insights provided by Google Analytics, for example, can shine a light on where incoming website traffic is coming from—making it more imperative than ever before for PR pros to ask for backlinks whenever possible.
Through Analytics, marketers and PR pros can discover what’s driving website traffic thereby making it easier to identify PR “wins” and attribute traffic to conversions.
NOTE: Backlinks connect one website to another through the use of a hyperlink. The more backlinks you are able to secure pointing back to your site, the better your search rankings will become over time. Read more on building backlinks and improving your SEO here.
Content, even the news, is written and shared with the goal of building awareness (for an issue, person, company, etc.) and engagement.
A very real KPI PR pros can zero in on and measure week over week or month over month is social engagement for the brand.
This takes impressions to the next level and monitors not just the number of impressions made in the newsfeed, but the interactions tied to the coverage such as likes, shares and comments.
Whoever said, “Any press is good press,” never had to deal with a crisis. There is such a thing as bad press but there’s also neutral and good press, all of which can help to build brand sentiment for any organization regardless of size or industry.
Obviously, the more positive and neutral press, the better. Every media coverage report should also include a sentiment analysis that can be ascertained by artificial intelligence but should, in every case, be confirmed by the PR pro responsible for the mention or coverage.
Perhaps one of the most interesting KPIs to watch, share of voice compares brands against their competitors—from the number of potential impressions and media outlet reputation to sentiment and even brand prominence in coverage.
A great way to begin understanding the media landscape is to set up alerts for the competition in the news. Consider the following bits of reportable and actionable data:
Is it from a trusted and reliable media source?
What is the size of the media outlet’s audience?
Is the brand sentiment positive, neutral or negative?
Does it link back to the competition’s website?
By considering the above questions, PR pros can see at a glance whether or not they are winning or losing when it comes to owning “media share.”
As a result of tracking this KPI, PR pros can create a new list of potential media contacts to reach out to because of their recent work with similar/competitive organizations.
As with digital marketing, the ultimate goal of website traffic is to drive visitors towards conversion. Whether it’s through filling out a form to learn more or registering for an event, conversions can quickly tell marketers and PR folks whether or not a campaign (or story) is working.
Good PR should result in better quality leads and a more educated and aware target audience that is ready to learn more and engage with a brand.
So, it’s reasonable and even recommended, to tie lead quality (not necessarily lead volume) and even revenue to KPIs for PR pros.
These metrics force PR pros to go after the right media outlets and media contacts to reach target audiences with the right story, right where they go to get information.
These five KPIs for PR pros are a great starting point but are not the end-all-be-all of PR measurement. The best place to start when developing KPIs and annual PR goals is the organization’s business plan and communications strategy.
A good PR plan should complement and strengthen the marketing strategy and KPIs should be tied directly to organizational goals that further the mission of the company.
Most companies today provide website visitors with a downloadable media or press kit.
Designed to summarize a business, product, or event, media kits are primarily utilized by journalists and are typically known as a “one stop shop” for media contacts when they need quick access to information.
The digital media kits we know today are much more engaging and helpful than the boxed kits public relations professionals had to ship to media contacts in the past.
Because of advancements in technology, companies can build a better media kit that not only provides easy-to-digest information on brands, products, services, and leadership, but also engages media contacts—increasing the likelihood of obtaining positive media coverage.
The contents of a media kit vary and company to company; however, there are several basic pieces that should always be included to build a better media kit.
In the event a member of the press should reach out to an organization, who should they contact? What’s the best way for them to reach this individual?
Keep in mind how the contact prefers to be communicated to and provide more than one communication option to journalists.
For example, if an organization’s media contact prefers email, list their email address and provide their direct office phone number to reduce the risk of the journalist reaching someone else within the organization who is not an approved company spokesperson.
New product launches, earnings reports, awards, and executive hire announcements are excellent company news items that should be included in the media kit.
Consider only selecting two or three that would qualify as either major or recent company news (within the past quarter). These announcements will help journalists gain a better understanding of what’s going on with the company.
Most organizations have an “about us” section of the website that provides a brief company overview and history to interested parties. Consider slimming this down into a one-page document that can be easily referenced by members of the press who are looking to either gain a better understanding of the company or to share background of the company in their own words.
The majority of journalists ask for a headshot of the executive they interview or choose to feature in a story. By providing C-suite executive headshots in high- and low-resolution JPG and PNG file formats, journalists can access what they need without having to go back to the media contact with another request.
Don't forget to include several different logo options, including full-color and black and white in both high- and low-resolution JPG and PNG formats. The best way to make sure the organization’s represented appropriately is to provide the correct files upfront.
If the company already has b-roll footage of a new product, employees, or of the office/campus, having those files also available for download can help expedite the process of putting together a news story on the company.
Ensure videos are labeled accurately and are compressed to minimize download time and file space. In addition to videos, add product photos and even office photography (i.e., office building, reception area, employees working, etc.).
These images can be used along with the b-roll footage and logos to help craft a brand consistent news story for television or online media.
In addition to these recommended staples, consider also adding the organization’s annual report as well as recent (and notable) news coverage such as a product review by a popular media outlet or an interview with a highly-credible news source.
Press kits should be accessible via the newsroom of the company website. Slimmed down versions can be saved as compressed files and emailed to media contacts upon request or in an effort to pitch a story.
Here are three great examples of Media Kits you can build today:
1. Visible's media kit includes screenshots of their app, a boilerplate, and logos.
2. South Texas College has a comprehensive media kit, which includes logos, campus photos, contact information, and press releases.
3. Alliance Data's media kit includes their Leadership bios and headshots, logos, fact sheets, and contact information.
Better media kits offer efficiency in the gathering of information, flexibility in how the story can be shared, and guidance on how best to describe and capture the organization in a way that is consistent with the brand.
When companies take the time to build a better media kit, it’s not only helpful to the journalists covering those organizations but also to the organizations themselves as the media kit can protect the brand and the company’s story.
When it comes to Healthcare public relations, storytelling is key. News in healthcare– a major development in a vaccine, for example– is difficult to communicate to the general public. PR practitioners face pressure to abide by regulatory practices. In the United States staying HIPPA compliant is a significant challenge for healthcare PR professionals. As a result, communicators are obliged to use highly technical medical language in press releases, often at the expense of broader comprehension.
It does not help that healthcare is one of the most politicized and polarizing topics in our society. PR pros must think about the social, religious and political ramifications of their content; ensuring they promote truth and integrity while aligning with the values of their organization and their diverse audiences.
As a result, the work of healthcare communicators is incredibly restrictive. Their content needs to go through a multi-step approval process and is often loaded with medical jargon. The size of the audience that can truly comprehend this content and its impact on regular people shrinks, making the communicator's work even more challenging. Ultimately the return on such efforts is hard to justify.
Yet there are viable solutions to these problems that healthcare communicators would be well advised to consider.
Healthcare is a field where a single question can have a thousand different answers. People first seek answers to health concerns through a simple Google Search such as “Why does my chest hurt?” Yet the information isn’t always backed by the scientific rigour we’ve come to expect in healthcare. In the age of social media and blogging, where anyone and everyone can pose as an expert, and misinformation is rife, casual Googling of health issues can lead to frustrating and often dangerous consequences. The popular healthcare website WebMD for example, has become a meme for providing poor healthcare advice.
There is an opportunity for Healthcare communicators to fill this vacuum by leveraging internal expertise to provide reasoned, practical healthcare advice for individuals looking for it.
Cook Children’s Hospital successfully does this through their ‘Checkup Newsroom.’ By providing advice on topics such as ‘Let's Learn About ... Heart Murmurs,’ Cook Children’s PR team is able to successfully combat misinformation in healthcare, while positioning themselves as experts in adolescent medicine.
Another effective way of public communication is by tying this form of content to stories in the news cycle. When the Zika Virus broke out in 2016, OhioHealth published a backgrounder on ‘The Zika Virus: What central Ohioans need to know’. The article provides a great resource specifically for members of the public (in Ohio) looking to understand what Zika is and its impacts.
Perhaps the most effective form of content that PR professionals can use to supplement their press releases is storytelling.
A sign of our times is that important information is often diluted within a sea of non-stories dressed up as breaking news. People tend to view overly optimistic articles that claim some major breakthrough in cancer research as 'too good to be true.' So when a real breakthrough in medicine is achieved, let’s say a new revolutionary vaccine, people are often skeptical.
By humanizing stories and revealing the real-life impact of treatments on ordinary people, healthcare PR professionals can effectively show the impact of their organization’s work.
Shepherd Center is an Atlanta based hospital that uses storytelling to communicate the treatments of patients rehabilitating from spinal cord and brain trauma.
Their story 'Families From Across the Nation Travel to Shepherd Center for Specialized Care' is a prime example of how storytelling can become a powerful way to talk about your brand without coming across as inauthentic or salesy. By focusing on the experiences of the people they work with, Shepherd effectively signals their brand mission and values, while centering themselves as the foremost experts on spinal and brain trauma.
The biggest asset a healthcare organization has is its employees. One way PR professionals can build a newsroom that resonates in the healthcare community is by tapping into the goldmine that exists within their organization.
There are two key reasons this mindset can benefit your newsroom and your organization:
1. As stated above, seeking the expertise of physicians is a great way of providing further reach for their knowledge. While a conference may provide them with an audience of a thousand, a well-written piece by a physician can be read tens or hundreds of thousands of times.
This reach isn’t merely academic– it can have real-life impacts too. In 2015, Dr. Paul Thornton at Cook Children’s Hospital was interviewed for an article on their newsroom about a new set of guidelines his team had created for screening uncontrolled hypoglycemia, a rare and severe disorder in children.
In 2016, CheckUp newsroom wrote an article about a family, who having discovered Dr. Thornton’s article on Checkup Newsroom via Google Search, sought out the doctor and traveled across the country to save their child’s life.`
2. Some of the best content on healthcare newsrooms is often about employees – not just physicians, but nurses, other medical and administrative staff. Two great examples are this Checkup Newsroom story about a nurse that volunteered during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts or this OhioHealth story of a nurse who adopted a dog from recovering patients.
This type of content is an excellent tool to communicate your organizational values, including things like care, compassion, and a commitment to go above and beyond for your community.
More importantly, stories about your employees are a great way to promote interorganizational pride. As the OhioHealth team explains, by sharing these stories they are able to promote their culture both internally and externally. Employees feel a sense of pride working for OhioHealth and are excited to share stories about themselves or their colleagues on social media, giving it a kind of viral effect.
Another tip for building a robust healthcare newsroom to figure out how you will keep the content on your newsroom fresh.
Publishing a diverse range of content on a regular basis, including press releases, internal news, blog posts, featured stories, and healthcare industry news, is vital. As your healthcare newsroom grows, aim to publish 1-2 pieces of content per week at a minimum to keep your newsroom fresh and your audiences engaged.
Ensuring that the content is timely and newsworthy is also something to consider. Quite often, healthcare communicators become so hyper-focused on what’s happening within their own organization, they aren’t able to successfully leverage opportunities based on what their audiences are actually talking about.
Populating a newsroom with a mixture of stories about your brand as well as commentary on current affairs in healthcare is an excellent strategy.
Organizations that do this well often start by forming a 'content council'. Content councils are designed to break organizational silos and bring together various communications teams including PR, Marketing, Social, Video and brand etc. Discussing what each team is building for content, discussing what is in the news that particular week, and how content and resources can be shared and allocated is enables you to keep your content calendar full and fresh. Content councils also allow teams to discuss current events and consider how older stories could be repurposed for the current news cycle.
The previous example of OhioHealth’s Zika story is a good example of this. Understanding that their audience was looking to them for relevant expertise on the Zika Virus, OhioHealth maintained a featured release with the Zika story at the top of their newsroom for weeks. When the issue around Zika re-emerged months later, OhioHealth was ready to revive the article on their homepage.
There are many ways of keeping on top of healthcare news. Social media sites like Twitter are excellent, particularly if you search out lists of Twitter influencers in the healthcare space. Healthcare news aggregator sites, as well as healthcare blogs, are an excellent source of current news (Feedspot has an excellent list of healthcare blogs to follow).
For all organizations, rebranding can be a daunting experience. Poorly executed rebrands have the potential to alienate loyal customers and members – just look at the stir caused by IHOP’s (fake, as it turns out) name change to IHOB.
But Sourcewell’s decision was backed by years of research that demonstrated they had outgrown their old name, and a new name would be required to usher in a new chapter for the organization. This would be tricky for the PR team – the name NJPA had built up a certain level of social and institutional credit over the years.
But Chelsea Ornelas, Public Relations Specialist at Sourcewell, explains that it was a vital undertaking in order to “stand out in a sea sameness” that plagued their field.
The rebrand has allowed the Sourcewell PR team to adopt a new approach to how they relate to their community.
Under the name NJPA, the Sourcewell team found it difficult to communicate the service-oriented nature of their organization. Their members consist largely of public entities, including education institutions, cities, counties, states, and other government associations. With such a broad purview, relating to members on a personal level was becoming increasingly important.
“I think Sourcewell is more personable, and more relatable. And that’s the tone we have been taking with our social media and our content. Not that we changed our voice a ton, but we are definitely trying to focus on telling the stories and successes of our members, being more personable, speaking in plain language and terms that people understand and can understand what we do and how we can serve them.”
A major part of the organization’s rebrand included redesigning their digital presence, including their online newsroom, which is powered by the PressPage platform.
Once the plans were locked in place, Chelsea says she approached Heather, her Customer Success Manager at PressPage, to discuss options for redesigning their existing NJPA newsroom.
“I spoke to Heather two months before our go live and she said, ‘No worries. Our team can definitely do that.’ And it was technical stuff, so I was able to connect the techies and then back away. From what I understand, it was very smooth.”
“Our new site wasn’t live until June 6, but as we were building it, we were able to share pieces and framing with PressPage, and they matched our new website and made it happen. I think one of the first pieces that was done and ready, that our website team felt good about, was our newsroom.”
Alongside the public facing newsroom, PressPage has enabled the Sourcewell team to adopt a modern, agile PR workflow.
Chelsea describes the laborious publication process she endured when she was first hired.
“It was a pretty clunky process. We were writing our press releases in Word, turning them into PDFs, and uploading them to our site. So not very shareable or engaging. And if I found an error, it was a whole 5-10 minute process of fixing the error in the PDF. It was clunky and cumbersome, and it wasn’t image friendly and obviously had nothing for video.”
With PressPage, the Sourcewell PR team is now able to manage their content directly within the platform. “I just log in, fix the error and it’s all done in real time.”
The original decision to move to PressPage was done after months of careful planning and research. From sales to the onboarding, Chelsea recalls a positive experience moving her newsroom to PressPage in 2017.
“When we started looking for an interactive user-friendly solution, PressPage floated to the top of options for us. My initial contact was great, and the sales rep that I spoke with asked questions and listened to what I had in mind. He showed me example pages of other PressPage clients, and really listened to what we were looking for and got to know our organization and our needs.”
Once signed, the onboarding matched the promise of the early sales process for Sourcewell. “The training was great– it was quick. I think that first initial training was an hour on the platform. It was so intuitive and easy for me to figure out. And in those first few weeks, if I had a question or if it wasn't looking the way I wanted it to, PressPage was very responsive to my emails and phone calls.”
For Sourcewell’s PR team, working with the PressPage solution has certainly improved their PR workflow and overall results.
On the workflow side, the Sourcewell team has become more agile.
“One of the things we did recently was share a video of a town that was in jeopardy of losing its clinic. Through working with us, they were able to save that clinic and save their citizens from having to drive an hour to get healthcare. The video was done, and it was so quick to upload it and put together the story on our newsroom.”
“And that’s just one example. I think we’ve had about a dozen pieces of content that we’ve posted in the last month and it’s just quick and easy.”
The results of the newsroom speak for themselves. As Chelsea highlights:
“We’ve moved our newsroom location to a more prominent place within our website, so we’ve seen a huge increase in traffic. And we’ve seen a big uptick in people finding us through Google.”
Chelsea explains that Sourcewell’s organizational rebrand has re-energized their PR team. “We see the potential, and we get excited about the different avenues it can take us. We already have great feedback from our members, our vendors and partner organizations. We’re re-energized, and we’re excited to see where this takes us.”
For Sourcewell’s team, the newsroom rebrand certainly reflects their new identity. “Cleaner, modern, a simpler look was what we were after and what was achieved. I think everything from the colors to the fonts, spacing… it just turned out beautifully, and it really reflects the change and rebrand that we were going for.”
Most brands that produce and publish content or news incorporate an online newsroom into their website, driving traffic from Internet searches and social media to the external communications hub. There, press releases and articles appear in organized columns by topic and date, making getting to know the brand easy and fast for media contacts and consumers alike. From major technology companies and massive health systems to small liberal arts colleges and even startups, the newsroom is the website’s hub for communication, but it can be so much more.
Brand storytelling has the potential to build awareness, interest, and engagement for organizations of all sizes. It combines content marketing strategy, brand journalism, and public relations efforts to consistently tell the story of the brand through imagery and content across multiple platforms.
In short, a brand story isn’t so much what organizations share with their audiences but rather, it’s what audiences believe because of the information shared by the brand. The brand story incapsulates all of the facts (announcements, articles, and news coverage) as well as perception and sentiment regarding the brand by itself, its customers, its community, and the public.
To begin shaping target audiences’ as well as the general public’s perception of a brand, there are several pieces to the story that must come together in one centralized information hub.
First and foremost, the brand must introduce who it is and what it does. Think of this as a continuation of the “About Us” section of a website. It’s the eight-second elevator pitch employees rattle off at professional networking events. And, it should be consistently incorporated into every company announcement and press release again and again.
Second, the brand should discuss and demonstrate how it solves problems or overcomes challenges for its customers. This can be achieved through published case studies, videos with actual clients, and how-to guides from the brand on its products and services.
Next, the brand needs to showcase the value it provides to its customers. Whether it’s a running shoe company or a hospital, the brand should highlight how it betters the lives of others. Testimonials, ratings and reviews, and videos with actual clients are just a few examples of how brands can convey the value they bring to the table day after day.
Finally, brands must engage and contribute with their audiences. From responding to social media posts to answering fan mail via YouTube, brands have a tremendous opportunity today that didn’t exist 20 years ago: the ability to engage with customers anywhere at any time via numerous channels. Brands that respond, engage, and support their customers when their customers need them the most earn more trust and build a better, more compelling story.
With each of the brand’s story elements (i.e., commercials, social media posts, ratings and reviews, articles, announcements, case studies, etc.) scattered across multiple platforms and media, there needs to be one easy-to-find hub of information that makes finding these pieces fast and convenient for all audiences.
The online newsroom is the ideal digital hub of a brand’s story as it’s already home to the news and articles that share who the brand is, what it does, and what problem it solves for its customers. By incorporating more diverse content, such as social media feeds or access points, testimonials, and case studies, brands can drive traffic to the newsroom where people learn more about the brand and begin to develop their perception or understanding of the brand’s story.
You’d love to get that major publication or TV network to cover your event, embed your video or quote your chief executive in an economic forecast story.
The last thing you want is for reporters to delete your press release the moment the email notification pops up on their screens.
Surely everyone knows by now that stuffy, old-style press releases don’t cut it when reporters are busier than ever and newspapers want multimedia assets for their online editions. Yet ill-considered pitches keep flooding the inboxes of the dwindling number of journalists.
How to stand out? Here are a few tips:
Getting a journalist to open your email is the first step in earning coverage. Write a snappy subject line for your email, says Elise Copps of Hamilton Health Sciences.
Oh, you’ve got tons to say about your new robotic cat massager/cow milker. It’s going to change the world. But if you gush on for pages, reporters won’t read your release.
“Ideally no more than one page of copy,” says says Caroline Niven, vice president of external communications at Mastercard.
It’s a good idea to paste your text in the email, rather than an attachment, so if a reporter is on a mobile devices can scroll and read it quickly, she says.
Reporters look at press releases for facts, says Orly Telisman of Orly Telisman Public Relations. They gloss over boastful and praise-ridden quotes from CEOs, partners and others.
Use active voice, not passive. Avoid Ciceronian sentences and Faulknerian flamboyance.
“Keep it simple,” Telisman says. “If your sentences are a whole paragraph, they’re too long. Cut it down into digestible chunks of information.”
One pitchman used to send me press releases that showed up as Greek letters. I don’t know what font he was using, but it was unreadable.
“If the reporter doesn’t have your font, you don’t know how it will show up on their screen,” Niven says. “Better to use something generic.”
Include photos and videos in your release as links instead of attachments so you can share high-quality files without overloading your recipient’s inbox, Copps says. Another option, Niven says, is to embed a low-resolution image in the release and link to a place where a high-resolution can be downloaded.
Be explicit about how media outlets can use them in their coverage, Copps adds. That is, make sure they know how the files can be used and whether credit is required. If you don’t want files to be altered, mention that.
“Encourage video embedding so views count towards your metrics, not theirs,” Copps says. “There’s no guarantee that media will comply, but by making the ‘ask’ clear, you improve your chances.”
Don’t dump everything on journalists the day of the release. Plan ahead.
Give the one reason why there is something press worthy, and stick to that for the entire document, Telisman says. If you have two things to announce, space them out over a few weeks’ time. “That way you keep the drumbeat going on your company or product—and your innovativeness,” she says.
The simplest points sometimes need restating: Write the boilerplate description of your company as if for somebody who has never heard of your business. Although random reporters might admire your creative writing workshop brilliance, they’re going to turn to Wikipedia for a straightforward rundown of your business if you don’t provide it.
An astonishing number of press releases provide no contact information, forcing reporters to scour the company website for a phone number or email address.
As a Pulitzer Prize-winning former colleague once put it to me, Do organizations think we’ll just print a press release verbatim? Not only does this slow down interested journalists, but they might drop the story altogether in frustration. A lack of contact information lends unreliability to your entire press release.
While emails remain a way to catch some reporters’ attention, there are huge advantages to creating news release landing page. Unlike email, web pages are indexable on search engines, driving traffic to your site. This is likely to draw journalists to other work, information and expertise on your site.
People also are more likely to share links, quotes and other information from webpages than than from emails. Sometimes reporters can be influential this way, spreading your message even if they don’t intend to cover your news in a story. Yet they must have something to link to.
Whether your clients are internal or external, teach them how releases are used today, Telisman says. Resist the pressure to write long dispatches or to announce meaningless, incremental developments that only clog journalists’ inboxes.