Published on April 12, 2017
One of the most touted PR outcomes I see almost every PR pro report on is narrative pick-up a.k.a how many additional media outlets republish a recent piece of content.
While story pick-up can be an incredibly positive PR outcome, I challenge the notion that all story pick-up is created equal.
Public relations is about reaching and engaging important constituents, whether they are current customers or potential customers. But if you’re not actually reaching your desired audiences, does story spread really do anything meaningful for your brand?
My answer: probably not.
So how can you be sure your narrative pick-up is indeed driving the kind of reach you want?
It all goes back to goal setting at the onset of any PR activation.
One pitfall I see PR pros succumb to again and again is failing to explicitly identify the audience they are trying to reach before story creation and pitching.
Content is far more impactful when it’s created with a target audience in mind. At AirPR, we challenge our customers to answer the following questions before launching any campaign:
1. Content: What format shall I choose based on the audience I’m trying to reach?
2. Channel: What conduit am I using to deliver my content so I can best reach my target audience?
3. Measurement: How am I defining success a.k.a. what do I want my audience to do after encountering the story?
These questions all revolve around target audience and rightfully so! Your target audience should always be at the heart of any PR work.
It’s also practically impossible to say whether a story was successful or meaningful unless there is clarity around who it is for and what you want to happen as a result of someone consuming the story.
This simple, three question exercise can exponentially increase the probability of PR success and makes it clear how to communicate and showcase those successes.
Another important step to ensuring story pick-up is impactful is knowing which primary and secondary target audiences specific publications reach.
Sure, getting a piece in TechCrunch is impressive and cool, but if your target audience is first-time homebuyers, your story is more likely to fall flat considering that TechCrunch is not a publication whose content is designed for that specific target audience.
Pro Tip: Dedicate 20 minutes to attaching primary and secondary audiences to the publications listed on your target media list. It might surprise you how many of your target media outlets aren’t aligned with your desired customer segments.
The final piece to identifying and leveraging meaningful narrative pick-up is to analyze the kinds of story pick-ups that occur.
To date, about 19% of AirPR’s earned media coverage has resulted in meaningful article relationships. Article relationships are a concrete way to track the explicit connectivity between specific pieces of content.
We track two types of article relationships: syndicated articles and follow-on articles. Syndicated articles are near carbon copies of original articles published on different domains. Follow-on articles contain a link which references a previous media placement to support an “argument” or key point in a new story.
While syndications are all well and good, follow-on pieces are actually the more important source for insights. Follow-on articles demonstrate who views who as a source of authoritative content and which narratives are compelling enough for someone else to forward and build on them.
Tracking the evolution of conversations via content can be incredibly powerful when it comes to message development and future narrative creation.
As with any PR outcome, context is key! Narrative pick-up and spread can be important data points to show off, but only if they are bringing you closer to achieving business goals. That can only be known when who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do are clear.
Curious to see which of your PR efforts are driving meaningful article relationships and narrative spread? Reach out! We’d love to show you some data that’ll blow your mind.