It’s been happening for a while now. With the number of communications platforms growing at an ever-increasing pace, marketing executives have been under pressure to move dollars away from traditional public relations efforts in order to fund emerging communication channels. In many cases, this money is being redirected to marketing teams with the belief that marketing can meet company goals better than public relations. And yet, survey after survey continues to show that it is editorial coverage, the work our PR clients do, that is building trusted relationships between organizations and their key audiences.  



Earlier this week, Ogilvy proved this point again in the Ogilvy Media Influence survey. In this survey, Ogilvy asked over 200 journalists and bloggers what sources they trusted when it came to doing company research. Their answer?  The information they trust the most is the information written by their own colleagues.  Even reporters trust reporters more than they trust any other type of content!

When you combine this information with the results of Nielsen’s 2013-14 studies showing editorial coverage is the most trusted content that consumers refer to when making business and personal decisions, we see something startling.  The role of editorial coverage is much more important than any other marketing content an organization can create. 

Let’s take a closer look at the Ogilvy study. Here are a few key bullet points.

  • Reporters consume most of their news via social media (50%), traditional newspapers (20%) and newswires (18%).
  • Reporters believe that earned and paid media (55%) are the most influential medium for driving purchase decisions followed by social media updates and marketing (45%) content.
  • Based on their experience, reporters overwhelmingly trust editorial coverage (72%) vs. company content (27%).



Now let’s look at the Nielsen Inpowered Trust Survey released in 2014:

What is the impact of content types on purchase consideration, affinity and familiarity? In each of these instances, it was expert content that moved people into the marketing funnel the furthest. Why? Trust.  More than 60% of respondents said they were less likely to trust brand-created content due to perceived biases vs. editorial coverage, which was seen as content created by impartial writers.

If editorial coverage generates higher trust, stronger brand recognition and product alignment, why are companies continuing to eschew public relations for marketing?

In many cases, it comes down to attribution. While the impact of one’s marketing programs can be measured from start to finish, the impact of editorial coverage is harder to track. We cannot (yet!) read minds to see exactly how much this content swayed a potential customer.  But there are a few things PR professionals can do to better showcase the ROI they are generating.

4 Easy Ways to Increase the ROI of Public Relations

  1. Promote the editorial coverage you secure:  If editorial coverage is the most trusted content you can generate, you must take ownership of sharing this content out. Create a news amplification program that includes heavy, scheduled social shares (15 times or more per coverage piece), employee advocacy (write social support messages and share these with your coworkers), coverage seeding and more. The more visible your coverage pieces, the faster you will move audiences in and through your funnel. And as an added bonus, by driving traffic to media sites, you are helping the reporter meet their number one metric – story views.
  2. Take credit for your work:  Include URL builders and/or UTM links into your news releases and news conversations.  These snippets of code will allow you to track the impact of the traffic generated from these pieces. Keep in mind, this will only provide you a snapshot of all inbound traffic you initiated but it is enough to show if you are bringing new prospects to the table, moving people through your marketing funnel or if your piece connects directly with a desired action or sale.
  3. Ask for the link:  Ask reporters to include a link (that contains a code snippet) to your website in their coverage.  Many media outlets will resist doing this as they view this as a form of free advertising, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Then you can connect the inbound traffic directly to the publication, providing you insights into whether or not you are pitching the right outlets to achieve your company goals.
  4. Go local! Use the news release data provided to identify the geo-resonance of your news and support the markets with high conversation rates via additional pitching, targeted sales efforts and online/social localized advertising.

With editorial coverage continuing to maintain its high position within the sales and marketing funnel, there is no reason PR budgets should be reduced in 2017.  Want to learn more about tracking the ROI of your public relations program so you can truly take the credit (and budget) you deserve? Let us know; we would love to show you how easy it can be. 

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