Gini Dietrich

A PR Content Strategy: What to Include and How to Measure it

By: Gini Dietrich | August 1, 2017 | 

Your PR Content StrategyToo often, public relations work ends up being reactive.

PR pros race from one fire drill to the next, completing executive to-dos that trickle in via email and texts at all hours.

(I want one million Facebook fans! Send a news release about our new hire tomorrow. Why hasn’t the New York Times responded to you yet? I saw competitor A in a story. Why weren’t we included?)

It’s no wonder the PR executive job just turned up as one of the most stressful.

One area that’s especially hit hard by the seat-of-the-pants approach is a PR content strategy.

Without a unifying strategy, each piece of content—news releases, customer testimonials, contributed content, blog posts, media profiles—lives and dies on its own individual merits.

But it could do so much more!

The Benefits of a PR Content Strategy

You wouldn’t set your executive team up for a media tour without having updated messaging and talking points, would you?

But when you’re creating one-off pieces of content, without an overarching PR content strategy, you’re missing out on the power of having all your communications efforts support one another—and your business objectives.

When your company blog posts show your executives’ subject matter expertise and align with the contributed content they’re publishing, and the stories you’re pitching to the media, you’re in the flow.

Each win supports the next pitch.

That’s the power of a PR content strategy that looks at your activities holistically.

What to Include in Your PR Content Strategy

If you haven’t documented your PR content strategy because you don’t feel you have enough time or resources to do so, I call shenanigans!

Your PR strategy can fit on a page.

In fact, you’re more likely to use it as a resource to drive action if you keep it brief and to the point.

It is a documented plan that identifies what content you’re creating, for which audience, to meet which objectives, and with what projected results.

It becomes your road map for planning all of your content throughout the year.

That way, the individual pieces support each other and the business goals.

Your PR content strategy should define the following:

  • Your audience persona. Who are you trying to reach with your PR activities? This should include your ideal customer plus others in their organization who influence purchase decisions.
  • SMARTER goals. What are the measurable, time-bound goals you need to accomplish through your content and PR activities?
  • Metrics. How will you measure your results against your goals? What data can you realistically obtain? What measurements matter to your executive team?
  • PESO tactics. The PESO model integrates paid, earned, shared, and owned media in a PR program. Which PESO model tactics will you deploy to reach your goals?
  • Resources. Who’s responsible for the PESO activities? Do you need support or resources from other teams in your organization to complete these activities?

How to Measure Your PR Content Results

Of these five elements of a PR content strategy, metrics is where most PR pros get hung up.

After years of reporting on vanity metrics such as media impressions and advertising equivalencies, it can seem intimidating to identify and implement metrics that show how your PR activities are having a direct effect on your business results.

Use these six metrics to measure the real business results of your PR efforts:

  • Domain authority. You can find your website’s domain authority using the Moz SEO toolbar. This number represents how respected your website is as a source of useful information. Benchmark where this number is at today, then track it over time. As your owned content is shared, and your media relations drives traffic back to your website, you’ll show how your activities caused it to increase.
  • Keywords. What are the top five to 10 keywords someone looking to purchase your product or services is looking for through online search? Are you ranking on page one of search results for those priority keywords? Document where you are today, and track over time how reinforcing these keywords in your PESO-driven PR content activities changes your search visibility.
  • Website visitors. In addition to using Google Analytics, create unique URLs to track the traffic your PR efforts drive to your website.
  • Email addresses. Drive those website visitors to a lead magnet. That could be an eBook, white paper, or template, or even a newsletter subscription form. By doing this, you can begin to obtain email addresses for lead nurturing.
  • Qualified leads. Leads are a good start, but qualified leads are what’s most important. How many of those email addresses were from people who fit the persona of your ideal customer? Make sure you understand your sales team’s lead scoring criteria. Use that to inform your personas and tailor your content.
  • Sales conversions. This is the holy grail of showing the ROI of public relations. How many closed sales did you drive through your PR activities?

The Fire Drills Will Become Simmers

A PR content strategy won’t be able to prevent you from having to respond to organizational fire drills.

But it will help you respond in a consistent manner.

(And it sure is a lot easier to say, “That’s not in the plan and won’t help us achieve XYZ goal. I’m happy to do it, but what would you like me to shift to do so?” Almost always, the fire drills goes away after that conversation.)

Further, it will help you make all of the content you create as part of your daily efforts work harder and show measurable results.

A version of this first appeared in Brand Quarterly

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • The “resources” component of this post made me think of a conversation I had recently. A friend runs a small startup. He totally buys in to the PESO model and the need for some kind of content strategy, but he doesn’t have to resources to manage it. He also doesn’t have the budget to hire a team, and he feels like an agency would be overkill for his purposes. Breaking out some of those responsibilities and identifying where, say, a virtual professional could provide some help is something he is considering, but even that component—who can manage each task—is something that can’t be overlooked and needs to be built into that over-arching strategy from the get-go. The best strategy in the world will fall down if you don’t have the tools to implement it.

    • I also think people tend to want to make it far too difficult starting out then it needs to be. Often, when we first start with new clients they feel overwhelmed about developing and executing a content strategy, but once you take them through their day and break down where they can do what, where they can take what they are already doing and feed it into their strategy…they suddenly realize the fear of doing it was much more energy expensive then actually doing it.

      • It’s like anything else, right? When you don’t know how easy it is, it’s very overwhelming to start new.

    • Virtual Staff Finder, FTW!

  • Julia Carcamo

    I just submitted a column on the importance of a marketing strategy. I wish I would’ve seen this first. You would’ve saved me time. JK!

  • Shenanigans! The funny thing about people is they never think they have time to build a plan, but forget about the time and inefficient energy they save when they have one (vs. one off stumbling through). It’s always a struggle to get a client to build a plan, until they build one and realize just how much more efficient it is to have one.

    • I mean, to be fair, I sometimes get behind and my content plan is written in the margins of my bullet journal.

  • I’ll focus on resources. It’s SO important to treat your PR content strategy as a project and create a project plan that includes: Timeline, milestones, and who’s doing what.

    Often all the great ideas remain just that, great ideas, because no one takes the initiative to start working on them.

    That’s where project management comes into play. Having a project manager (no need to bring anyone from outside, just assign someone with organizational skills and project management experience to lead) saves you time, headaches, and makes sure things do get done.

    • We need a project manager.

      Just kidding, Corina!

      You don’t need to add project manager to your to-do list.

      • Oh, you know how I like challenges. Besides, I was a project manager for many years in a past life. 🙂