Three ways to maximize PR in the age of content

In a content-driven landscape, media relations must do more than build buzz.

Media relations has undergone a sea change in recent times with the proliferation of platforms, fusion of formats, and blurring of lines between traditional and social media. What has persisted is the potency of media exposure – it can make or break your PR campaign and thereby, your client's brand. It can establish newbies, transform dogged perceptions, and restore tarnished brands. Companies are increasingly turning to PR agencies for brand building and reputation management, and agencies must navigate their clients through an increasingly muddled media landscape.

What this means is that we now need astute content strategies that effectively utilize not just traditional and social channels but also earned media. The latest Nielsen Global Trust report found earned media is still viewed as the most trusted source of commercial information and is most likely to stimulate consumer action. As the head of a global communications agency, the one point I repeatedly emphasize for colleagues and clients is that impressions are useless without action and bottom-line impact. Smart media relations must not just build buzz; it must build business. Sure, it is numbers to the rescue when justifying budget spend. But PR strategies that don't answer to the client's business objectives are simply dollars lost and opportunities squandered.

Multiple platforms and digitalization mean that PR practitioners are now spoilt with choice. But they also mean that our audiences are being inundated with information like never before. Media proliferation also means that consumers are ubiquitous – using traditional, social, digital, and mobile platforms. A smart content strategy is targeted – it will take you to where your audience is, using a platform that is most suitable to their consumption needs. Here are key tips to maximize your PR impact in the age of content:

1. Measure what matters: Impressions and ad equivalency are moot points if your media efforts aren't impacting the company's bottom line.

2. Re-think media placements: In the past, an ‘online-only' piece might be considered a second-rate placement and maybe not as coveted as the framed articles hanging on our office walls. But with social sharing, online pieces are often driving conversation better than print coverage.

3. Adopt a channel-agnostic approach: Focus less on choice of channel and more on meeting and exceeding your client's business goals. Content needs to be targeted; it must also be relevant to the consumer's needs and habits. Also, by connecting content across earned, owned, and paid media, brands can tell a cohesive story that resonates with discerning consumers today.

When measuring the success of content marketing, keep in mind that the most significant results may not be short term. Trust and reputation are all about relationship building. And relationships, as we all know too well, take time and nurturing. Moreover, in a digital world, practitioners must not only create rich content, they must also curate it to keep it relevant and visible. Content generated must feed from and into ongoing events of significance.

The return on investment for media relations has never been greater. With a sound content strategy, PR can help brands move from press release pushers to storytellers. That's where the opportunity lies.

Jennifer Risi is the EVP for Ogilvy Media Influence and director, content creation for Ogilvy Public Relations.

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