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4 ways brands win with a unified approach to public relations

Rachel Tilghman

January 13, 2022  •  7 min read

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When it comes to telling the whole story about your brand, it’s no earth-shattering revelation to say that great public relations are essential. But as any PR pro will tell you, they often feel separated from the larger marketing apparatus within organizations.

There are several reasons for this. For starters, PR often is separate from other marketing efforts; public relations are commonly outsourced because brands lack the expertise in-house. But even if you handle your own PR, this kind of communication is intrinsically unique from other forms of marketing — it serves a fundamentally different purpose, and that makes it a challenge to pinpoint ROI with the precision that is possible through a paid advertising campaign.

This perception that PR is its “own thing” may be hurting the efficacy of your overall marketing strategy. Let’s examine some of the challenges standing in the way of stronger PR and explore the ways a unified approach to marketing that integrates public relations can have an enormous impact on your brand, your budget, and your customers. 

Key challenges to overcome along the unified PR journey 

Before you can adopt a new approach to public relations, it’s helpful to understand some of the ways your traditional point of view may be holding you back. Here are some common hurdles facing isolated PR teams:

Demonstrating ROI

When PR communication works best, it creates a richer connection between your customers and your brand by telling your story through trusted sources. It gives your customers a clear picture of your values, your vision for the future, and your relationship to events that impact their lives. These kinds of stories also stick in the minds of your customers in ways that more fleeting marketing messages can’t. 

The problem is that this kind of meaningful connection is difficult to distill into a single, easily digested metric. Earned media value (EMV) is an important data point, but without more context it can be a bit of a black box. Other marketing efforts drive an action — a click, outreach, or even a purchase — that is very easy to track. This disconnect can further marginalize internal PR teams, as budgets are cut when value can’t be clearly articulated to senior leadership. Outsourcing to a PR firm won’t solve the ROI dilemma and still may cost you thousands of dollars in monthly retainer fees.

Navigating a fragmented ecosystem

Like all strategic imperatives, great PR depends on effectively tracking and utilizing up-to-the-moment data and information. Public relations teams today must keep track of this data across an increasingly fragmented media landscape that includes social media, print, news outlets, podcasts, and video. Collecting and organizing this data manually is an enormous challenge.

Internal complexity can also hinder the effectiveness of PR. Coordinating with stakeholders across business units is time consuming and often involves the use of multiple technology stacks that can further slow productivity and generate conflicting data sets. 

Acting to prevent or respond to risk

Above all, public relations must reliably identify and respond to potential threats to your brand’s reputation.

But the same factors that negatively impact the strength of your communications — fragmented media landscape, multiple tools in your environment, isolated PR teams — can also prevent you from taking action against risks. If your team doesn’t have a way to see threats from across the media landscape in a single view, or suffers from lengthy approval processes from a growing list of stakeholders across silos, you may not be able to prevent or even respond to a crisis until the damage is already done. 

Rethink public relations with a unified approach

If these challenges sound familiar, you aren’t alone. Luckily, there are strategic opportunities to reinvent the traditional, disjointed approach to PR. Brands that employ a unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform can integrate their public relations team with other marketing functions, with several key advantages: 

1. Richer, more detailed understanding of ROI

A Unified-CXM platform places public relations reporting side-by-side with the rest of your marketing reports in a single, comprehensive view. This means you can track the impact your brand is having across dozens of digital, social, and messaging channels while also seeing how PR communications perform across traditional news outlets, print media, and podcasts. By combining it with social listening in this way, EMV is more fully contextualized. 

When the executive team has a clearer picture of PR metrics, resources can be more effectively allocated, the corporate comms team becomes a strategic partner, and capability can be developed in-house rather than outsourced at a premium cost.

2. Simplified, centralized, and automated data collection

Unifying PR and marketing on a single platform greatly reduces the complexity of your internal ecosystem. When PR teams have a single technology platform, they can stop wasting valuable time collecting and organizing data across silos and spend more time crafting effective messaging and connecting with your customers. Reducing your overall reliance on redundant technology can also break down silos, create consensus around shared data to drive action, and increase efficiency throughout marketing.

3. Trend tracking and competitive benchmarking

Great PR is not just about performance metrics. A Unified-CXM platform also allows you to monitor other media trends and larger news stories that can influence the efficacy of your communications. Better understanding coverage of, say, disruptions to the global supply chain might lead to a well-timed press release allaying concerns your customers may have about lengthy delays.

Having this kind of visibility into the media landscape can help you identify and connect with the right journalists and publications to amplify your message, as well — exactly the kind of relationship building that has been very challenging in the remote context of the global pandemic. A unified platform also allows you to track and report on messages coming from your competitors, giving you the insight to be even more competitive in the marketplace. 

4. Artificial intelligence for superior crisis detection, response, and brand safety

As we’ve discussed, a fragmented approach to PR can have many negative effects, but none are more damaging than the potential threat to your brand’s reputation. When you combine AI capabilities on a Unified-CXM platform, disparate data from across the media landscape is collated automatically to give you a more sophisticated view of potential crises, so you can work to prevent them. When a problem does arise, a unified platform allows stakeholders to collaborate more quickly and effectively on a response, so damage can be minimized.  

When AI is a core piece of your solution, you can analyze consumer behaviors, indicators, and messaging performance over time. By pulling together this kind of historical detail, you can gain insight into the specific elements of your communications that have worked and which haven’t. These can be leading indicators to help you better predict the impact of your messages in the future. Brands that can leverage AI in this way have far more control over brand reputation than their competitors. 

Tap into unified PR with Media Monitoring & Analytics

As the only Unified-CXM platform, Sprinklr understands the difference a single view of PR and marketing can make for your brand and for your customers. With Media Monitoring & Analytics — part of Sprinklr Modern Research — your brand can track trends, benchmark against competitors, and follow top journalists, leading publications, and breaking stories across traditional news outlets and more than 30 digital media channels in a single platform. 

Media Monitoring & Analytics uses AI-based crisis detection and alerts you when your company or products are mentioned by top publications, so you can take a proactive approach to protecting and nurturing your reputation. Media Monitoring pairs with Social Listening for a comprehensive view of the conversations that will define your brand and enrich the relationships you have with your customers. 

To learn more about the impact Media Monitoring & Analytics can have on your brand, register for Sprinklr Demo Days, or reach out to us today for more information.

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Rachel Tilghman

Senior Solutions Consultant, Sprinklr

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