We are in a media climate where demand is high for powerful stories that are corroborated by data.
What this means for brands is that investing the effort and money into gathering proprietary data and using the findings to tell a powerful and provocative story is one of the most effective catalysts for driving meaningful press coverage. A longstanding practice of PR pros and the thought leaders they represent has been to “newsjack” already-trending research findings and statistics by offering their take on the topic.
However, in today’s noise-filled, crowded field of experts clamoring for coverage, it’s the one who controls the proprietary data that has the power to control the narrative.
The good news for marketers is that technology has made it immensely simple to generate your own research. Whether it’s polling your audience or customers through social media, your email list or a website survey, or even using a third party service such as Survey Monkey to reach people outside of your existing audience, gathering data has become less expensive and time-consuming.
The key to creating value from a survey is knowing the right questions to ask (that tie your findings into a newsworthy topic), surveying a statistically significant number of people, and then identifying which of your findings are the most provocative or worthy of coverage.
Then it’s about strategically positioning your findings while leveraging multiple channels and tactics. Here are the most important steps to cover when amplifying your survey results for maximum PR impact:
1. Publish a blog post.
As with any content marketing initiative, the first step to building a campaign around a survey is to create a blog post for your own website reporting the findings in a way that’s powerful and easy to read. By doing this, you’re creating a source page that all other marketing efforts can ultimately link back to, which will funnel as much attention as possible back to your own website.
2. Create an infographic.
Visual content is king right now because people want to consume information that they can understand quickly while scrolling through a newsfeed. Investing a little bit of your budget into designing a compelling infographic that grabs attention and communicates the most important findings in your survey will give you a great piece of content that you can leverage on multiple platforms. It can be shared on your social media channels and to your email list (while linking back to your original blog post) and it’s even a great resource to pitch to news outlets who often include infographics to add more visual elements to an article or their own social media channels. Your infographic can form as one of the tools in your media outreach arsenal.
3. Publish an article to LinkedIn and Medium.
While publishing a blog post on your own website has many benefits by way of being able to better engage with your traffic and even collect their contact information through an opt-in for free resources or a sales offer, most blogs are limited in their reach. So you’ll want to create an additional article (not a copy of your other blog post) that can be shared on a platform such as LinkedIn or Medium where you can reach a much wider audience and even have viral potential.
At the end of the article, be sure to include a link back to your website’s blog post for additional information. You could even make this an abbreviated article teasing your findings that invites readers to click back to the original blog post on your own website to see the full information. The main goal is publishing content onto a platform that increases your reach.
4. Begin your media outreach.
Next, you’ll begin your media outreach to secure coverage of your survey findings. As with any media outreach, identify the reporters in your industry that are most active in covering the topic at hand. While tools like Cision, MuckRack and others have become indispensable for building media lists, do not also neglect the old- fashioned route of manual research. Running a few search terms related to your surveys through Google News will uncover additional reporters who have covered your beat in the past 24 hours or couple of weeks that you may have otherwise missed.
Making your media outreach successful relies on identifying the findings from your survey that are most newsworthy and crafting a compelling pitch around it. Create a powerful one-liner communicating your most important finding and use it in the subject line and at the beginning of your pitch, and then following it up with some context around the study you conducted and why your organization is a credible source.
5. Create a video for social media.
Again, the power of visual content should never be underestimated. In the same way that an infographic grabs the attention of your audience as they scroll their feed, so will a video. Some data has shown that videos garner twice as many clicks on social media as a graphic. The best way to use a video to deliver your survey findings is to create a clip that’s short (under two minutes is usually ideal), use captions since most users scroll their news feeds with sound off, and then invite viewers to visit the blog post on your website (once again) to read more about your full findings.
Your video can be shared across social media, your email list and even embedded into your blog post. People love to consume video, so the more places you use it, the longer your engagement on that piece of content will be.
6. Pitch industry podcasts.
When doing your media outreach, don’t neglect podcasts. Not only are they one of the fastest growing platforms for storytelling to targeted, captive audiences, but they also provide ancillary benefits such as receiving links back to your website or blog post (great for traffic, and even better for SEO).
Use Google, iTunes, LibSyn and Stitcher to find the most popular podcasts in your vertical, begin connecting with the hosts on social media and cultivate relationships. Having a comprehensive media list of podcasts in your industry that you can reach out to for interviews is one of the most overlooked strategies in corporate PR of the moment.
7. Write an Op-Ed.
Lastly, as you’re pitching for press interviews and podcast guest spots, don’t ignore the possibility of writing an op-ed or contributor post. There are many instances where a media interview may not make sense, but an outlet will happily accept a contributor piece that dives deeper into your findings (in a way that doesn’t read like an academic paper) and connects them back to takeaways for the readers in your vertical.
Draft an Op-Ed and begin researching the opinion editors at the news outlets covering your niche. There’s almost always demand for new op-ed content in the 24/7 content world we live in.
Keep in mind these are just seven of the ways to leverage a survey for a PR campaign. There are many ways to combine these or build on them using additional platforms. You maximize the mileage of your content by repurposing it to adapt to the myriad of distribution channels that are out there while not diluting the value of the story you’re telling.
Richard Lorenzen is the CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands, a New York public relations firm focusing on technology, finance and policy.