After we received the results of our new research report, The Future of the PR Industry 2023, one thing was clear once we started digging through the data. PR and communications professionals find thought leadership content and campaigns to be highly important, but metrics and measurement are a common challenge.
When asked what the biggest struggle was regarding thought leadership campaigns, 38.5% of those surveyed indicated that earning “high-quality metrics” was a challenge, while 30.5% answered that “measuring success” was.
One respondent from an internal PR team at a regional organization stated:
“It is difficult to calculate the return on investment in the public relations industry, and the relevant analysis tools and data quantification systems are not perfect.”
However, a simple shrug emoji won’t be accepted in the end-of-campaign report when presenting results to brands and clients. In this post, we’ll help you understand how to set your thought leadership campaigns up in a way that will earn you high-quality metrics, as well as how to measure these results afterwards.
Why thought leadership is important in public relations
Adding thought leadership content into your PR strategy is becoming more and more a non-negotiable than ever before. We’ve seen so much change in the world and audiences are looking to brands to make statements based on societal issues, as well as business decisions.
A fact-based press release or native ad spot will help get key messages out, but a personalized article directly from a leader within a company will do much more than communicate details. It will help audiences trust your brand more, which leads to higher rates of conversions and business deals.
In this Forbes article, the author also explains that growing a brand’s reputation online can help change outbound strategy to inbound, meaning that if your thought leader’s name becomes more and more associated with a certain topic — say, for example, supply chain issues or the future of hybrid work — news outlets and journalists will begin reaching out to them directly for quotes and story ideas.
Ways to set yourself up to earn great metrics
Before you launch your content promotion campaign, there are a few things to keep in mind before you get too far into your project. Here are some pre-distribution tips to set you up for getting the metrics you want.
Define goals ahead of time
What types of metrics and results are important to you and your client? Is your brand focused on driving traffic to an owned website? Are you looking for clicks or conversions? Maybe engagement is more important to you or a certain number of placements. Knowing what success LOOKS like before you go is a great way to help you tailor your campaign and the content within it — this is the first step toward a solid strategy.
In our 2023 survey, PR professionals ranked these three metrics as the most important to them when it comes to measuring success:
- Social media engagement
- Organic traffic
- Website engagement
Know your audience
One of the best things about working with paid media is the fact that you can control your messaging. Your content can be written directly to a specific audience, and thanks to audience targeting capabilities, you can make sure to send your sponsored content to them on the online channels they frequent.
Keeping these demographics in mind — like age, location, job industry, gender, etc. — will help your team know that the data you analyze at the end of the campaign is relevant and accurate to your target audience.
Develop really good content
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to always remember. High-quality content will lead to high-quality results. The world is attuned to ads and sponsored content and paid media, and the second your distribution smells of being too commercial-y or fake, the reader will be gone and your engagement rates will tank.
And on another note, thought leadership content is almost always written from the perspective of an individual person, one who is sharing their expertise or point of view on an issue related to their career and position. Genuinely helpful and interesting content not only leads to higher metrics, but also can grow the author’s own personal brand and online reputation.
Note: Some of the highest-rated thought leadership themes from our survey included HR and employer branding, DEI and sustainability stances — all subjects that deserve a high level of content quality and sincerity.
[Read More: Best PR Tactics for ESG Campaigns]
Plan a post-publish strategy
Once your campaign is live, then it’s up to your team to get the most PR out of your content. Share the live thought leadership articles with your brands and help them to understand what they can do to make the paid distribution go further. Some examples include:
- Share the articles to social media accounts, tagging the thought leader themselves
- Let internal teams know there is a new bylined or feature article by their organization live on top news sites
- Segment out the post to create longer-form blog posts on owned websites
- Create videos to share on social or in email messaging
- Do external outreach to earn relevant placements on other forms of PR tactics, like podcasts or print magazines
Amplify your thought leadership to the right places
Like we touched on in the earlier section about knowing your audience, PR and communications professionals should work to take their sponsored content campaigns to the next level with amplification.
In Brandpoint offerings like the Premium Business MAT release and the Premium Health MAT release, brands can get section-front promotion in top news sites dedicated directly to their audiences, either Business or Health readers.
These news websites cater to audiences specifically looking for content in those exact categories, which means that your thought leadership content will be alongside editorial headlines, boosting both your credibility and the discoverability of your articles.
Note: Brandpoint’s distribution options are not behind paywalls. This means that your content is viewable by everyone who comes across it, whether they have a paid subscription to the news website or not. Accessible content will lead to high-quality audience numbers.
Let the data tell your story
Once your thought leadership campaign has come to an end, it’s time to start measuring. Refer to the KPIs your team identified earlier and create benchmarks, comparing these metrics to past content distributions. You can use multiple types of platforms to help you measure these results, including Google Analytics, Business Wire, PR Web or proprietary dashboards created by third-party vendors you work with.
You can then use these results to make data-driven decisions to improve future campaigns. For example, if you notice a lot of users clicking through a link in your thought leadership post but then engagement rate drops, you might want to work on optimizing the quality of the content created. If you get a lot of views but no clicks or interactions on the headline at all, maybe you need to adjust your targeting parameters.
Boost your thought leadership for meaningful results
Dedicating time to create a strategic and effective thought leadership campaign will help your PR efforts stand out above the competition. Many agencies are pushing the brakes on ad spends and sponsored content budgets due to economic uncertainty, but we know that those brands who keep their names in the media will be the ones to succeed in the future.
Brandpoint would love to help you stay front-of-mind with your thought leadership content. Contact us today to learn more about how to get section-front placements on Health and Business pages.