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     Measurement Week NYC - Day One

    PR is Art and Science, For Better Results You Need to Combine the Two - PR Expert

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    Tom Ritchie, vice president of Strategic Projects at Cision, one of the leading providers of PR software, explains how new technologies and PR tools may change the media, how to connect with the right audience, and what the main problems are for modern companies in drawing up their PR strategies.

    Cision is one the leading providers of PR software, services and tools for the marketing and PR industry. How do you think the new technology will change the media and its audience?

    Tom Ritchie: We all know that media landscape has changed dramatically over the last 10 years with technology not only giving us greater access to information wherever and whenever we want to consume it but also making it easier for anyone with a blog or social media account to have a voice and be influential.

    This makes the role of a PR professional so much more challenging, having to wade through the noise and identify what really matters and who will authentically connect with your message.

    The only way to do this effectively is to embrace how technology can help us navigate through all this data and find those stories and influencers that are most important using AI and the tools mar-tech have been using for years.

    One of Cision's primary objectives is to connect the right content to the right audience. What methods do you use to achieve this goal?

    Tom Ritchie: Cision's acquisition strategy has been focus on integrating the best tools and data needed to help our clients connect with the right audiences, from the acquisition of PR Newswire, the world's leading wire distribution network, to Gorkana, Vocus and Datapresse market-leading media databases and now with the additional of TrendKite social influencer database we've made it easier to connect with the right audiences via the right channels like never before.

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    Icon of Instagram social media as seen on a smartphone screen

    Layered on top of these channels and through AI and profiling tools Cision have made it possible truly uncover influencers audiences enabling our clients to know who to include a video or image to or connect via social or a traditional press release.

    How do you choose the best tools to reach a new audience for your customers?

    Tom Ritchie: Understanding the audience you want to reach is the critical starting point for knowing how best to get your message out there in the most effective way. An article in a newspaper simply isn't going to reach my daughter, but similarly, a campaign on Instagram isn't going to resonate with my mother.

    Using technology to help understand the demographic, geographic and sociographic data about your audience and how they consume information will dictate the tools you need to utilise.

    Back in 2013, in your article for the Marketing Week, you stated that "businesses that invest in the latest means to engineer their communications emerge as winners only when they combine new tools with tried and tested formulas". Six years later, are you still of this opinion?

    I do, PR is both an art and a science and to have the greatest impact and deliver the best results you need to combine them in the most effective way possible. Cision provides our clients with the tools that help craft the best possible content and then share it in the most impactful way possible. Kandinsky was one of the finest painters of the twentieth century, but had he not exhibited in Moscow in 1895 he may never have become the revered artist he became.

    During B2B Marketing Expo in London's ExCel Centre in 2018, you have talked about the importance of data influence on PR strategies. Could you tell us more about this link?

    Tom Ritchie: Clients working in siloed solutions rarely find the time to link cause and effect in the work that they do. By combining the tools used into a single, unified platform it becomes dramatically simpler to understand what outreach or activities actually drive results and whilst that sounds simple, if you have disparate data, you rarely get the time to join the dots.

    Once you uncover those things that really drive impact you can focus your strategy on doing more of what works and refine or stop doing those that don't drive results.

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    You have also talked about the so-called "earned media revolution". What role does earned media play in modern PR technologies? How will earned media change in the near future?

    Tom Ritchie: PR has historically measured its success using metrics like 'Potential Reach' and 'AVE' that are complex to define and often detrimental to our credibility because their easy to discredit. In contrast, our counterparts in Paid and Owned use shopping basket conversions, leads generated and revenue growth to demonstrate their impact.

    By connecting comms-tech to mar-tech we can help join the dots of influence and clearly demonstrate the importance that earned media has on driving upstream buyers decisions - ultimately getting the credit it deserves.

    What, in your opinion, are the main problems and shortcomings of modern companies in drawing up their PR strategy?

    Tom Ritchie: Defining what success looks like using metrics that truly matter to their organisation at the start of their campaigns is critical to gaining credibility and ultimately more budget. One of the best examples I've seen was with one of our clients "Slimming World" who clearly defined increases across metrics like Website traffic, Conversion rates and Membership subscriptions.

    That campaign not only exceeded the targets they set out to achieve but ultimately secured increased budgets of the PR team and won them multiple AMEC awards. This approach allows PRs to focus on what they do best and spend less time being concerned with resource and budget constraints.

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