As VP of corporate communications at technology solutions and services company CSC, it’s critical that Sarah Martin and her team link media metrics/outcomes to business goals—the Holy Grail for organizations, particularly in the B2B space. So far, so good at CSC, as Martin reveals below. Martin will touch on this topic, the integration of social media into the communications mix and more at the PR News Media Relations Next Practices Forum on June 17 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where she’ll be on the panel, “Allocate Your Media Relations for Smarter Returns.”
PR News: What are your key media metrics, and how do you link your media relations outcomes to business goals?
Sarah Martin: Generating the right metrics can be challenging for any company, especially when social media is involved. Our key areas of measurement are share of voice, key message penetration, specific vertical industry coverage and tier one coverage on key initiatives. A good example of the measurable impact to our business goals through media relations is our launch of a thought leadership campaign positioning CSC as leaders in cloud computing. As a result of that campaign, our subject matter expert became well known as a cloud expert—[he was] invited to speak at key industry events throughout the U.S. and the U.K.—and we received numerous inquiries from new customers about our Cloud Assessment program.
PR News: How is CSC using digital PR/social media for media outreach?
Martin: Social media is a great way to find out what a reporter is working on, offer comments or interviews with subject matter experts and expand our credibility with these contacts. It is one more vehicle that helps us bridge the gap between pitching a story and landing a great piece. Social media platforms allow us to reach our targeted audiences through plugged-in bloggers, online news sites, micro-publications, public speakers, analysts and consultants.
PR News: What is your approach to the news release? Have you changed your release strategy in light of digital options, or do you continue to distribute releases through the more traditional channels?
Martin: We’ve taken a hybrid approach, continuing to use a traditional wire service to distribute press releases, but also utilizing new digital tools such as videos from our executives, blogs, photos and embedded links that provide additional information. We also leverage these new channels when pitching to reporters. One tactic is to comment on a journalist’s blog or reach out to them as a result of a blog post or story they wrote in a magazine. It’s much more effective to e-mail them with something targeted to their editorial focus, rather than spamming them with an unsolicited, traditional press release.
PR News: What important trends do you see in media relations?
Martin: As media outlets shrink, companies will provide more contributed articles and use their social media networks to manage brand perception. I also see communicators producing more multimedia content to tell their stories. With the introduction of tools like Flip camcorders, companies are able to create a full user experience that goes beyond traditional press releases and print media.
PR News: What concerns you the most about the media relations function?
Martin: Having the ability to deal with a substantial crisis that disrupts our business, hurts our brand and disappoints our customers has me most concerned. Every organization should have a comprehensive crisis/disaster communications program. Many of us are lucky to never have to put this program into motion, but I think this is a part of our jobs that we need to be prepared for at all times.