In leading TrendKite’s Marketing team, Russ balances a data-driven approach with an interest in finding new approaches and growth hacks. He writes occasionally for publications such as MarketingProfs, Wired, and Website Magazine. Russ' favorite kite is the Autogyro.
A quick glance at the marketing landscape confirms an abundance of technology and choices; in contrast, PR has lagged behind. But Russ Somers, VP Marketing, TrendKite highlights that as the biggest untapped opportunity, PR is about to be disrupted with the same data-driven mindset as the rest of marketing.
There are over 5,000 companies that want to change the way you run your marketing organization, and PR is not immune.
A quick glance at any marketing technology landscape will confirm an abundance of technology and choices (just check out the Chief MarTech supergraphic!). In paid media, there are programmatic tools, ad exchanges, demand-side platforms, exchanges, retargeting platforms, and automated planning tools. Owned media boasts everything from content management systems to website personalization engines to SEO platforms to tools for optimizing real-time offers. Shared media, of course, has a rich array of tools and platforms for social media monitoring and management, social promotion, publishing, and analytics. At first glance, every nook and cranny of the marketing ecosystem appears digitized, automated, and optimized.
So, what is the biggest untapped opportunity to drive change in marketing through technology? And how is it about to shake up the PR pro? Let’s start with the basics...
You’re probably already familiar with the PESO model of communications. If you’re not, it’s simple. The PESO model breaks down marketing and communications into four quadrants: Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned. As you’ve seen above, the Paid, Shared, and Owned quadrants have been transformed through data and technology.
In contrast, most modern marketers struggle to identify similar changes in the Earned quadrant. As their counterparts discuss analytics and revenue, the PR pro is weeds deep into making sense of all the data. There is nothing like programmatic advertising or website personalization, for PR and media relations. Instead, the dominant technology in the Earned quadrant tends to be legacy media database products, media monitoring tools with no true analytical component, and simple tools for aggregating news clips (a term which, in itself, is a legacy of a distant paper-and-scissors past).
The real benefit marketers can expect as this quadrant is disrupted by technologies is the ability to speak the same language as the rest of marketing. More than 80% of marketers are using data to improve decision making and at the heart of the PESO model is the assumption that network effects occur when Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned work together in concert. When campaigns, messages, and measurement are coordinated across all four quadrants, you’ll achieve benefits that are greater than the sum of the parts.
But this isn’t happening right now. Why? Paid, Shared, and Owned are exchanging data and synchronizing workflows through APIs. Meanwhile, Earned is waiting on a quarterly Powerpoint summary of results prepared by an intern in the agency’s basement.
What is holding PR back?
PR is getting pushed further and further away from decision makers as the other areas of marketing bring impactful data to the table. And it makes sense. Outside of earned media, other areas of marketing are now measured by bottom line results. Even the rapidly growing world of content marketing has always had a measurable component to it.
Yet PR and earned media could be the superstar of the marketing mix. In a presentation at the Inbound conference, Hubspot’s CEO cited a statistic that 47% of consumers trust media articles in making purchase decision. That’s the second most trusted influence. Only word-of-mouth was higher (at 58%). Consumers are sophisticated and understand the difference between editorial content and less neutral sources. Earned media, the E in the PESO model, is far more influential than the Paid and Owned quadrants, even as advertising budgets grow and PR budgets shrink.
The problem isn’t trust or influence - PR has that. Its technology-enabled workflow, certainty and measurement. Pressed to prove the impact of every dollar, CMOs funnel investment dollars into areas that can be measured and proven to their stakeholders.
How PR Tech Changes the Game
Just as marketing technology elevated the marketer’s game with sophisticated segmentation, personalization, nurture, and more, PR Tech is emerging that can elevate the PR professional’s role.
The first step, as it was with marketing technology, is proving the value by measuring what matters. The modern PR person needs to be able to measure brand impact quickly and simply, delivering key metrics in real time so that the team can react quickly. Organizations and agencies that still take days to turn around a manually-built PR report will find themselves out of sync with the rapidly accelerating 24-hour news cycle.
PR Tech can bring additional benefits beyond rapid insight, though. By connecting their PR technology stack to other marketing technology infrastructure, the PR professional can deliver additional value by understanding the interplay between the quadrants of the PESO model. It’s now possible, for example, to understand not only the Web traffic and conversions driven by earned media, but also the SEO impact of PR placements. Since major media properties tend to be high-authority domains, this is a major element of value that PR has, without the right technology, been unable to measure.
There is a great deal more PR technology can deliver. In just a few years we’ll see every area of PR transformed. Workflow and collaboration will no longer rely on emailed Word and Google docs. Just as the marketing professional’s skills are augmented by sophisticated profiling and personalized content, the PR professional will have tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learned to augment - not replace -.their ability to know exactly how to respond to a fast-moving PR crisis or opportunity. It’s an exciting time, and we look forward to seeing PR technology help earned media claim its place as the most influential quadrant of the PESO model.