Article

Michael Nutley
Michael Nutley 13 July 2021

How to Choose the Right PR Technology for Your Business

PR technology is transforming the practice of earning media coverage, from list building to analysis and reporting. A new buyers' guide from London Research and Cision sets out how to select the right tools for your organisation.

It’s always been harder to measure and understand the value of earned media compared to owned and paid-for. This is despite four out of five senior marketers believing earned media is the most effective of the three.

A major reason for this is that earned media – or PR – tends to operate in the upper funnel, where attribution is harder, and metrics are softer. In recent years, however, sophisticated technology has been developed that allows communications professionals to track and analyse the performance of their campaigns.

With so much related technology now on the market, choosing the right PR tools for your business can be challenging. This is why London Research, in partnership with Cision, has published its PR Technology Vendor Selection Guide, to help you make the right decision.

Where PR technology can help

There are three basic elements of PR technology to support the three main areas of a communications professional’s job: targeting, monitoring and analysis.

Targeting: Rather than having to maintain your own contact list, suppliers now offer databases of relevant journalists and influencers, including their specialist areas, audience reach, and recent topics they’ve covered or discussed. These can be searched by subject, keyword and topic of interest.  

This allows communications professionals to build tailored contact lists quickly and easily, for every campaign they run, and to target specialist correspondents as required.

Monitoring: Web crawlers constantly spider the web, looking for mentions of keywords and reporting back in close to real time. As well as allowing optimisation of campaigns in flight, this also makes it easier to spot potential PR crises early, and deal with them before they get out of hand.

Analysis: Digital tools now allow monitoring to be overlaid with data about how prominently keywords were featured, and how widely each piece of coverage was seen. Traffic to clients’ web properties can be linked to individual earned mentions, meaning transactional value can be attributed to PR in the same way as with paid and owned media.

Supplier checklist

Along with a detailed map of the vendor selection process, the guide sets out the 10 most important criteria to consider when rating potential PR tech vendors. These are:

User experience – how easy are the tools to use? How much training will be needed?

Ease of implementation – how long will it take to have the tools up and running? How much involvement will be needed from your IT department or your supplier’s consultants?

Integration – how easy is it to integrate the tools with your existing marketing technology stack, or other systems such as business information (BI)?

Access control – does the software offer different levels of access according to job roles? What safeguards are there to protect your systems and data from misuse or infiltration?

Media monitoring – how widely does the software search, and in what media? How easy is it to add items? How fast does it return results?

Social media monitoring – does the software offer social listening? If not, can this functionality be integrated easily?

Analytics, insights and reporting – does the software assess the sentiment of your coverage, how prominent your brand is within it, and what impact it’s had? Can you to compare the results of your earned media activities with those from paid and owned channels? What kind of reporting does it enable?

Media database – How comprehensive is the database of journalists, commentators and influencers? How frequently is it updated? How flexible is the search functionality?

Customer service – What is the availability and response time of the vendor’s support team?

Vendor roadmap – How closely do the vendor’s development plans match your own business strategy and predicted needs?

Adding AI

The final thing to think about is how PR technology is changing. The introduction of artificial intelligence is starting to enable tools to recognise not just the appearance of preset keywords, but also the sentiment of the content in which they appear.

This will allow even more detailed analysis of campaign effectiveness and granular campaign optimisation. It’s important to understand what AI can offer your communications team, and whether the supplier you choose can deliver it.

Download the full London Research/Cision PR Tech Vendor Selection Guide to learn more. 

Discover more about Cision’s solutions for your PR workflow.

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