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  • Tag Archive: earned media

    1. Customer Spotlight: Kiva’s Powerful Earned Media Strategy

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      As director of customer success for a PRTech company, I work hand in hand with some of today’s most innovative brands to help them overcome today’s PR challenges.

      Since these challenges are not limited to the AirPR community, we’re kicking off a series highlighting how our customers are leveraging the power of data, analytics, and measurement to amplify their PR and communications strategies.

      I started working with Kiva’s Senior Director of Communications, Jason Riggs, almost a year and a half ago. He’s a one-man shop in the sense that he’s responsible for all of Kiva’s earned media efforts; no agency help or PR colleagues to lean on. (Ring a bell, anyone?)

      If you’re unfamiliar with Kiva, it’s a peer-to-peer lending platform that connects lenders with low-income entrepreneurs and students from around the world. These borrowers use the money they receive to grow businesses, attend school, switch to clean energy and more.

      I know what you’re thinking: It’s every PR professional’s fantasy to share the story of a company with such an admirable, contagious mission. What a dream, right?

      In theory, yes. It’s an incredible gig! But Kiva is also a non-profit organization and it has the essence of a scrappy startup in that employees like Jason are responsible for moving the needle without boatloads of team members or a crazy-big budget.

      And for a nonprofit whose goals are tied to having a global social impact, landing press is a key way to share those stories with the world so Kiva can rally new lenders and hence lend more.

      But that’s enough about how cool Kiva is. Let’s talk numbers, and see how Jason used PRTech and data analytics to rev up his PR efforts without cloning himself.

      1. Hip hip hooray for more targeted media outreach.

      Thanks to Jason’s data savviness and PR analytics skills, he was able to drive a 175% increase in Kiva lenders through targeted media outreach. This is the opposite of “spray and pray” media outreach. Instead, highly targeted media outreach means pitching only the reporters whose articles produce desirable actions on your website.

      An example of this is spending more time pitching journalist Joe Smith because you’ve observed that articles he writes for The Bluebird Times consistently drive whitepaper downloads on your brand’s blog. (Yes, you can get this granular with the help of proper PR analytics!)

      2. Manual reporting is the worst, so Jason decided to ditch it.

      Another PR challenge Jason faced was streamlining his reporting practices. He used to do this manually, and it gobbled up his time like tots out of Napoleon’s pocket. He now uses Analyst to compile a monthly report showcasing the success of earned media and integrated marketing campaigns to show exactly how PR and marketing efforts work together.

      This report includes top-performing earned media, which were identified by reporting metrics that were previously unavailable to Kiva such as social engagement, amplification, new lender signups, and website metrics.

      3. Better alignment between media outreach and Kiva’s key business objectives.

      Jason was able to see exactly how earned media contributes to every level of Kiva’s new lender conversion funnel, proving the worth of his work. To do this, filtering functions in your PR analytics tools are key since they let you filter out other channels such as email marketing or social promotions and hone in on which business objectives your media relations efforts affected.

      I know… I know… It’s easier said than done but it’s doable in the modern PR era as long as you let the data lead the way and know what you’re looking for.

      Congratulations to Jason on his impressive PR wins!

      Curious to see how your PR efforts are making an impact? We’re happy to help! Give us a shout at info@airpr.com.

    2. Reporting on the state of the PR industry

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      Nearly five years ago to date, when I was still in my twenties and San Francisco rent didn’t eat up half of one’s salary (imagine that!), I set out to solve a problem that many said would be “nearly impossible to do.” As any entrepreneur would, I thought: “PERFECT! I’m in.”

      I managed to convince two extremely brilliant computer science engineers and one idealistic PR domain expert to join me for the early stage ride…and ride we did.

      After the sale of our first product line, Marketplace, in early 2015 and with our focus now squarely on helping our customers showcase PR value through our Analyst product (Analytics, Insights, and Measurement), we’ve seen marked growth in both company size and revenue.

      We currently serve customers ranging from Qualcomm and McGraw-Hill Education to Experian and Kiva. We hit our success milestones early and are certainly proud of the product we’ve built, the talent we’ve attracted to join us, and the customers with whom we work every day to solve problems.

      AirPR Analyst PR reporting sampleAfter five years and as we launch our Reporting product this week (which increases PR productivity exponentially) I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. But we’ve got a ways to go as an industry.

      We still struggle to find standardization and consensus about both the PR role and how to communicate and showcase value to decision-makers. And unfortunately, some PR pros are STILL doing 2 things that should send them to PR Hell – which I imagine would consist of being forced to smile & dial 17 hours a day, repeating the same pitch over and over with no response:

      • Sending mass (note: not personalized) emails to journalists with only a press release and no context. What’s worse, these pitches are often offbeat and wholly irrelevant.
      • And perhaps more importantly: Reporting PR’s value by using Advertising Value Equivalency (AVEs), which has not only been banned by the Barcelona Principles committee but also VASTLY (and I mean VASTLY, we have data people) undervalues PR.

      While it is certainly an uphill battle of sorts, here’s what I know as fact based on over a half billion news articles we’ve tracked and analyzed over the last five years:

      1. Earned media coverage (whether it’s the New York Times, Marketing Land, or a guest post on the Google Analytics blog), is anywhere from 2 to 5 times more effective at getting potential customers to engage with your brand than traditional/digital advertising. The point? Having someone else make people aware of you is extremely important and generates curiosity and credibility.

      2. Owned media (i.e. building your brand through your own channel) is often just as effective for top of the funnel lead generation as earned media or advertising. The caveat: DON’T talk about yourself too much if at all. Instead think “educate, entertain, and engage.

      3. Competitive intelligence is mandatory to understand what your organization is doing well and what it isn’t. Companies don’t exist in a vacuum and neither do your PR activities. Benchmarking against yourself? That’s only mildly useful. Benchmarking against your competitors gives you far more insight into how you fit into the big picture.

      4. Press releases are useful for companies that have reached brand ubiquity in a specific category, or whom are required to make public statements of record for either investors or shareholders. Newswires are a commoditized channel for reporting news. They shouldn’t be used in attempt to build a story or a narrative, but rather to report facts.

      5. If specific, trackable metrics and KPIs (blog sign-ups, demo requests, etc.) don’t exist for PR, then you are simply doing a brand building and mindshare exercise. Which is completely fine and these things are important. But it’s going to be very hard to quantify in a meaningful way, thus making it nearly impossible to “make a case” for PR to a data-driven decision-maker (think CEO, CMO). Moral of the story? It’s important to categorically understand whether something will have a “qualitative” or “quantitative” metric.

      6. All publishers are not created equal, and it’s impossible to know which outlet will get you the most “ROI” without some historical data or without asking the right question in terms of what you are trying to “measure” and who are you trying to reach. Which again makes the point for gathering data sooner than later. The point: Don’t ask “which publication will get us the most reach or impressions?” But rather “which publication will get the most people to engage with our brand in a meaningful way?” Then A/B/C test the hell out of your hypothesis.

      7. Social media amplification is not always a proxy for a successful PR campaign. It is simply a signal and one particular part of the equation. While social media share counts (except of course, ahhhem, Twitter) are useful for understanding whether your HEADLINE is interesting (did someone say clickbait?), it only tells part of the engagement story.

      If you’re a PR pro who already gets all this, then you are AMAZING and you should ask for a raise! But if you read this, scratch your head and go “Whaaaa?” it’s time for a PR reboot.

      For PR/Comms pros, CMOs, and content producers everywhere…this industry isn’t getting any easier to navigate. If our data tells us anything, it’s that unless you prioritize the auto-aggregation and reporting of your PR efforts you will waste valuable human capital and budget.

      And when you DO finally decide to do the analysis, what you will surely find is that at least 75% to 80% of it has been a complete wash. All that is to say…you’re better off jumping on the bandwagon now.

      In the meantime…we will continue to run towards the light, along with anyone who is willing to join us!

    3. Content Marketing: Building A Web of Influence


      Can you name the last time you stopped to look at a spider’s web? Chances are, if you hate spiders, it was not recently. But there is much to be learned from these intricately designed feats of art and engineering.

      Every part of the web is connected, making it both complex and powerful. If any part is weakened or disconnected, the overall value and strength of the web is severely compromised.

      I started mulling over this idea after an AirPR data scientist came to me with a visualization of a subset of our content marketing strategy, which happened to look exactly like a spider’s web: expansive, intricate and continuously interconnected.


      The overarching goal of any savvy content marketing strategy should be to build relationships and establish trust and credibility, while often filling gaps in “conversation” when media coverage is slow.

      There is now ample opportunity to publish content on owned media channels, contribute to conversations, and participate in thought leadership circles. All of these actions fall under the greater PR umbrella and are powerful avenues that can boost a company’s digital presence/street cred while keeping momentum going during traditional PR lulls.

      But what exactly is the best way to go about doing this?

      Our data shows that content filled with “high quality” (note: not vapid, link-bating) information will exponentially increase the possibility of your ideas spreading. The reason is simple: readers and colleagues will value your writing as authoritative and will share and reference you in tweets, blogs, and other various content.

      Simply put, the power to connect and strengthen the existing connections between owned and earned outlets is within reach. Can you morph last month’s authoritative editorial into a blog post by piggy backing on the existing narrative, adding a stimulating new conversation angle, and presenting it to your audience? The answer, hell yeah!

      Digital is the most consistent and powerful channel available and a content marketing is a huge part of today’s PR puzzle. So, what is the recipe for success? To be truly effective, a content creator must consider 3 key elements:

      1. Provide ideas and information in a charismatic way that doesn’t just push the brand’s own agenda

      Content doesn’t always have to be the booming voice of authority stating “what you need to know” and “why company X is great”. Campaigns can also be an opportunity to acknowledge a struggle, face uncertainty, or spark a dialogue. Nothing screams engagement like inviting for feedback, thought, and input.

      2. Include links to those who inspired your content, gave credence to your arguments, and advanced the overall conversation.

      By inviting folks into the web, you’ll be giving them props for their ideas and encouraging them to participate in the existing narrative. Talk about cultivating relationships!

      3. Employ thoughtful precision through a wide lens when it comes to selecting the authority sources included in content.

      YES! Don’t always pull from the same 5 sources. There’s a lot out there to spur inspiration. Try not to get struck in a rut.

      When you give “shout outs”, the likelihood of others linking back to you and referencing you in future articles increases exponentially. By weaving webs, businesses build rapport and become a part of the conversation with other companies in their space. This in turn boosts digital visibility online and elevates the profile of the brand or company.

      Conversely, when you opt to not think through a solid reference strategy or a partner publication isn’t willing to run links back to you, your web becomes less expansive and less impactful.

      Case in point:


      Compare the two side by side…and think about this visualization next time you set out to build a content marketing campaign.

      Expansive Web A:











      Not so expansive Web B:











      Education is also key to building your “web”, so be sure partners see the potential synergies. Provide them links that support their proposed story angle or simply make sure YOU build a follow-on article to the final piece.

      Another welcomed benefit of expanding and reinforcing your web’s threads is the increased likelihood of a potential customer getting “stuck” in the web. The more touch points leading towards the center aka your website the more apt a visitor is to land on your page and potentially turn into a customer.

      To sum it up, I will leave you with a great quote from content marketing authority Ann Handley, “Content shouldn’t be created as one-off pieces, or even as a campaign. Rather each piece should become part of an ecosystem. The overall ecosystem produces a customer experience that dovetails back to the brand.”

      Well said, Ann. Those pesky little spiders may just be onto something after all.

      A version of this article first appeared on PRNewser.com.