The online news which Google presents as part of search results to anyone looking for information about a company, brand, product or issue is immensely influential. In fact, it’s more influential than social media channels and far more powerful than most people understand.
For anyone looking to grow a business or influence perceptions, obtaining coverage in online news media should be a key objective. That may be counter-intuitive for smaller businesses, who view PR as the preserve of large multinationals and organisations with similarly large budgets.
However, PR can play a very significant role in success for businesses of all shapes and sizes. We know this because digital analysis shows that the relationship between PR activity, online news coverage and real business outcomes is exceptionally strong. This is a massive breakthrough and should change the way business owners think about how PR can stimulate their growth trajectory.
As digital marketing gained momentum, many foretold the total demise of traditional PR. How wrong they were. In reality, PR is more important than ever, given the evolution of the online media landscape. We might call it content marketing nowadays, but essentially getting the right content in front of the right audience is what PR professionals excel at.
Online News Moves Customers Along the Path to Purchase
When prospective customers are looking for information about a product or service, they nearly always start with a Google search, long before picking up the phone or emailing a potential supplier. The online media content returned by Google as part of those search results makes an immediate impact on perceptions and on subsequent audience behaviour. People don’t simply swipe or scroll past it, as they do with content on their social feeds. They are highly likely to read it because it comes from an objective, credible news source. Digital news has become an integral part of the consideration and qualification phase on the path to purchase.
The chart above shows how online media coverage for SciTech Daresbury increased Google search for accountancy firm Grant Thornton, a business which relocated its Innovation team to the science park to support high-growth and early stage businesses. The audience reading online news content in search results for ‘SciTech Daresbury’ went on to search for more information about Grant Thornton. In fact, Tribe analysis showed that 73% of searches for the accountancy firm’s Manchester office were prompted by online media content about SciTech.
Using Tribe’s PRSV methodology, we are able to show the relationship between online media coverage and a range of audience behaviours such as search, sales, website visits or TV viewing figures. These cause and effect trends are validated using robust statistical analysis to show which PR activities are contributing most to business performance.
Don't rely on vanity metrics
For digital businesses, it’s important to understand that spurious metrics such as ‘reach’ or ‘impressions’ can be dangerous, as they often reflect an inflated measure of success and cannot be linked to business outcomes. On the other hand, we know that engaging audiences on digital news media sites drives not only brand awareness, but audience behaviour. PRSV attributes results to individual online news sites, revealing which are effectively delivering the highest engaged audience for any individual company or topic.
Digital insight can make a massive difference to PR planning and execution, by showing what’s working and what’s not. What it really highlights, however, is the fact that online news media grab the attention of the audience at a point when they are invested in looking for relevant information. For that reason alone, online media coverage is oxygen to a growing business.