Beyond PR

Nov 12, 2014

2014 PR News and PR Newswire Survey: PR and Marketing Are Aligning, Now What?


PR News recently released the findings of a survey conducted with PR Newswire into the alignment of PR, marketing and advertising. At the highest level, our joint survey revealed a true movement toward alignment across the three disciplines—but it is important that we take a deeper look at the results and not “call it a day.”

There is still much work to be done to ensure that these departments, agencies and practitioners are truly working together in additive, differentiated ways, and not simply cannibalizing each other’s efforts.

Related reading: New PR Approaches for Outbound Communications Strategies 

Two trends stand out as areas of focus and growth for communications professionals moving forward:

  • Understanding, articulating and delivering on goals. While PR practitioners certainly highlighted a wider variety of goals than the usual, historical “media coverage only” approach, there seems to be a question of the priority of these goals. A majority of respondents indicated that “online media coverage,” “online visibility,” “print media coverage,” and “social media engagement” are recurring goals for their efforts–and seemingly in competition with each other for measuring success.

The most popular goals coming out of the survey point to an ongoing pain point for PR—and a potential barrier to having a seat at the strategy table. Media coverage (whether print or online), visibility, and “social media engagement” are still outputs, not outcomes. If practitioners fail to tie these outputs to very real outcomes, like increased web traffic, conversions, sales leads and ROI—traditionally the metrics of marketing—they will still be viewed as an expenditure, not an investment…and their hopes of becoming strategic partners to their brands and clients will fall flat.

  • Don’t pull all your eggs in one basket…don’t relegate your efforts to one channel. Nearly all respondents (91%) indicated that they use social media channels for their communications programs, a not unsurprising result given it is a low cost approach that drives engagement with known audiences. When you look at differentiated channels, however, efforts stall out. 75% make use of the company website—but less than three quarters utilize emails to journalists, email marketing and/or press releases to promote and amplify their efforts. Staggeringly, less than 50% of survey respondents make use of a company blog.

Just because a channel is new or popular, doesn’t mean it is right…all of the time. Social media can be a powerful tool, but given the frequent updates of newsfeeds and the minute attention spans of followers skimming them, your news could be just a flash in the pan. Investing in more permanent channels is a way to give your content legs to stand on: start with owned channels like social, website and blog and see what works. Chances are, if your content is a success with your owned target audience, it will be a hit with new target audiences as well and then will warrant the investment of paid content distribution, promotion and amplification that can drive the earned media coverage you desire. Test, then invest.

Bottom line? PR has made huge strides in becoming less siloed and working toward alignment with its marketing counterparts. The real work—and challenge—will come in continuing to do what PR does best: owning the brand story and providing consistent messaging to the marketplace, while tracking outcomes, proving ROI and owning its value. The best is yet to come.

1 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ Erin Nobach 02:50 EST on Nov 26, 2014

I found this post extremely interesting. I love the fact that you say “don’t relegate your efforts to one channel” because as a senior PR student I have noticed a massive trend towards only focusing on certain channels bases on trends, especially within the forever changing world of technology and fads so it’s not to hear that not everything works for everyone and that you can also consider more traditional approaches when trying to reach a target audience. Essentially it all comes down to excellent writing skills and knowing your audience like the back of your hand. Great post!

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