A strategic communication management process that Individuals and organizations make use of to build mutually beneficial relationships is called Public Relations. It is a specialized engagement plan using various communications mediums to create and manage a brand image that would help build a strong relationship with the target audience. The whole objective of this exercise is to maintain a positive and reputable brand image. The task is to make the brand seem like an honest, trustworthy, successful, transparent, and relevant brand in the eyes of the public, prospective customers, existing customers, partners, investors, employees, and various other stakeholders.
Make no mistake, Public Relations (PR) is different from Advertising! Unlike Advertising, PR Firms or PR personnel promote the brand for free, by making use of their relevant content appearing in industry and trade journals, magazines, newspapers, news channels, websites, blog posts and TV programs, which makes it look like an endorsement and acceptance of the brand by the public in general.
It’s PR that needs to be creative. It’s PR that needs to be new and different. It’s PR that needs to be original. The best way to establish a brand is to create a new category, and creating a new category requires creative thinking of the highest order
Public Relations has a broad scope and can be extended by many means such as
Investing in good relations with media and providing them with ‘news bytes’, and being a reliable source of content for their publication
Engaging with the government with regards to policy formation, CSR initiatives, employee protection, fair price regime, fair competition, and consumer protection
Handling investors, their concerns, investor events, releasing financial reports and ensuring statutory filings, engaging with analysts and media houses
Participating in industry forums, being part of industry delegations
Frequent interaction with existing and prospective customers to understand their pain points, expectations, priorities, and roadmaps
Spreading the ‘right word’ amongst the employees, addressing their concerns at a broad level, sharing the big picture.
Engaging in the social aspect of business and providing CSR support
Helping internal marketing Teams with media support and also during the planning of events and launches.
What is a Public Relations (PR) Software?
Public Relations Software is a solution stack that helps organizations to use the methods listed above to build brand awareness and is an efficient tool to communicate with the target audience. This tool helps to identify and communicate with media houses, journalists, social media influencers, freelancers, and bloggers with the sole aim of widening customer reach and brand reputation with positive communication highlighting the company, its products and solutions, and customer-centric approach.
Most PR Software comes with an in-built database of influencers, freelancers, and bloggers who can work in tandem with PR teams to connect to hundreds and thousands of followers in their specialized category. Together, they work to develop and engage in campaign management and manage workflow. As a part of such campaigns, these tools aid in publishing and distributing press releases. Smart technologies allow organizations to maintain a contact list management process wherein customized and personalized content is sent out as part of customer outreach. This software has scheduling features and can save the social media conversation in a library for feedback analysis purposes.
Clients are no longer satisfied with a campaign made up of media relations and most elements of digital marketing require tools. PR teams simply won’t be able to deliver a modern PR campaign without the use of better tools
Public Relations software is a collaborative tool that allows PR professionals to engage effectively with contacts. This type of software may also provide media monitoring functionality, competitive media analysis, broadcast solutions, and media information retrieval solutions to help PR professionals make knowledgeable decisions. This is a powerful tool for job estimation and accounting. Client communication features help PR professionals to maintain strong external relationships wherein they can share voice, video, and text messages to propagate their message.
Tools with robust analytics are useful for carrying out different PR tasks related to brand awareness, feedback management, and reputation management. These tools come handy for undertaking sentiment analysis.
Benefits of Public Relations Software
Getting onboard a PR software helps increase visibility for the brand amongst media houses such as newspapers, magazines, trade journals, TV, Radio
It becomes a launchpad for PR campaigns and also for product launches
Helps project leadership status in the industry
Brand campaigns help in enhancing brand perception, leading to customer engagement and lead generation
Enables faster and broader coverage with instant sharing of information, and cross-multiplies when other bloggers, freelancers, and journalists tag and repost the information to their followers and community.
It helps seize opportunities and also allows to manage crises faster
Streamlining of communication between internal stakeholders, and even with external agencies to maintain continuity and clarity of communication.
Managing the brand efficiently on multiple media platforms, and having the ability to customize and personalize messages and campaigns based on the target audience, all from a single platform
Feedback is fast, and hence, course correction is more rapid if required.
Competitive analysis is possible by doing certain benchmark comparisons
Online PR is a cost-effective medium as there are several free online media postings.
When a large number of websites, news sites, and blog sites pick up a company’s campaign and publish it on their platforms, it gives a boost to the search engine optimization process.
End Users of Public Relations Software
End-users of this software are the PR Team members of an organization or the PR agency hired to drive the PR function for the organization.
Features of Public Relations Software
Public Relations Software typically make these essential modules available to the user:
Contact List Management
Press Release Builder
Auto-Update Media Lists
Digital Asset Management
Direct Mail Management
Article Author Database
BI & Analytics
Role of AI in Public Relations Software
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a growing impact on businesses as it holds a lot of potential for B2B brands. AI can create an impression within the PR space. It can take care of regular everyday mundane tasks of PR professionals such as sending and publishing communications as part of social media management, email scheduling, and distribution, calendar management, content creation and management, SEO strategy, and Analytics.
However, besides the tasks mentioned above, AI can also make path-breaking changes in the way the PR function is carried out. AI can drive Data-Driven PR campaigns to bring in the best results. It can be used as a guidance tool to determine the exact time for the release of a PR Campaign and the media on which it should be released for best reach and results.
New AI tools have now come up with the ability to read sentiments, which is now popularly known as Sentiment Analysis. Using the Sentiment Analysis algorithm over a considerable amount of data that is available from traditional and digital media, including social media, brands can analyze the public sentiment about them and help bring this information into brand guidance.
There is no brand or organization which doesn’t go through a crisis. AI can read through the available data and predict if there is any crisis on the anvil based on the feedback coming from an audience of the brand or through public perception, based on which the PR team can start taking action to douse the fire before it engulfs them.
A relatively new trend in PR is to use an Influencer as a tool for their reach-out programs. Influencers are those who have an army of social media followers. AI can help choose the Influencers based on their followers to find out who could be the right fit for brand endorsement.
Besides the above, AI is also useful in creating content, be it audio, video, or text.
Buyers Guide to Public Relations Software
There are a plethora of offerings in the marketplace, ranging from single function capability to a full-stack. The offerings are modular. Choose a product which meets your current requirement and has scope to include and integrate the wish list for the future.
The key to a good PR Software is its database of online media influencers. Check out the veracity and updating of the data. Inaccurate information will lead to a poor campaign, and it will become a long-drawn task to update and verify the entries in the database.
The solution must have the ability to integrate legacy data formats into the existing system without doing manual entries for historical data.
Performance and Reliability
PR activities move at a fast speed since most of it is initiated and driven on online media. Any system fault or snag can mar the brand reputation. Customer Service support of the PR Software company must be very receptive, and the turnaround time for complaints must be almost immediate.
Integrated Media Monitoring
Integrated media monitoring must be a necessary feature to monitor and track your competitor as well when a piece of news breaks in, whether related to the industry or otherwise.
The software must be able to customize email and campaign material. It must be able to create multiple template formats with the same set of content for distribution to different influencers.
The Software must feature a robust reporting functionality to generate reports for CXO-level consideration as it involves the brand reputation of the company.
Public Relations and ROI
In today's high-speed digital world, where information is available on a click, data-driven PR becomes inevitable. In earlier days, success metrics of PR activity was measured based on circulation or readership figures. Now the campaigns are no more “one size fits all”’; they are more personalized, and hence the previous modes of metric measurement become irrelevant.
The new guidelines which drive the success of Public Relations activity are based on the Barcelona Principles. The major elements to understand and benchmark the success of PR activity are
Building awareness about a brand is all about grabbing eyeballs. The PR team will have to engage and ensure that they find coverage in the press, digital media, and social media, participate in seminars and exhibitions, conduct webinars and podcasts, TV and radio interviews, all of which help make an impression of an industry leader.
Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality
Social Media Interaction
Press clippings are passe! It is important now for PR Teams to continuously keep track of the coverage coming out of media outlets, journalists, freelancers, bloggers, customers, twitter shares, Facebook, Linkedin, number of likes, favorites, etc. These social platforms have a direct impact on how the “emotion” is built for the brand. Keeping track continuously and monitoring social media communications will help brands with their “pitch” in upcoming conversations. This also helps monitor which campaign resonated best with the target market segment and which requires improvement and how to address that.
PR work can also be measured by finding out who owns a bigger pie in the PR effort in the industry and amongst the target audience - the brand or its competition
Enquiries, Leads, and Sales
To find a direct sales conversion arising out of a PR effort will be difficult to pinpoint, but audit trails through digital support can help identify which link or communication helped produce maximum leads.
It is a benchmark where a PR team can rate itself in terms of how much mention has its brand found through media outlets, journalists, bloggers, freelancers, customers on digital and social posts. The Citation volume has a direct influence on brand perception. There are ways in which a brand is highlighted during such conversations. It can happen indirectly by using keywords that can correlate to the products and services offerings. A direct way of getting highlighted is to name the brand as an example during relevant conversations. The third way is the most satisfying one, where a brand name is used in the discussions properly to a specific target audience of the brand.
Any feedback or comment will have a positive, negative, or neutral emotion to it. While it is the job of the PR team to ensure that positive emotions keep growing, the negative comments must be addressed and turned into positive advocates of the brand.
Nothing is more satisfying than getting recognized by industry peers as one of the best. The PR team must continue to spread the right word and put in applications for industry recognition. Accolades have a direct impact on brand reputation and position one as an industry leader. This can then be shared over media platforms to spread the word.
A full suite of PR Software comes along with modules that achieve each of the earlier mentioned tasks. The use of AI improves it further and makes it more efficient. While it may not be an easy task to quantify every PR activity and relate it to numbers and revenue growth, as PR tasks are a mix of quality and quantity, it can surely be benchmarked for performance if the goals and objectives are properly set in advance. Social media is a measurable tool. By engaging on social media, developments must be kept track of and measured with historical data for benchmarking success.