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How data can help PR firms modernise their media engagement model

28th February 2019

As audiences split into layers of hyper local groups, the biggest challenge facing PR firms today is how to make sure the right content reaches the right audience. This means not only knowing which journalist or influencer to reach out to, but also what type of content will best work with them to tap into your final target audience.

This means that arming yourself with large media lists with a one size fits all content distribution strategy may not really be the most effective way to engage your audiences. Add to this the issue of fake news and consumer and investor activism, and the use of data becomes crucial when planning media engagement and content marketing.

The stakes have changed

Winston D’Souza, strategic account director, Cision India comments that, ”Instead of just relying on media lists and existing relationships, PR professionals can make use of data to get better results. In order to get relevant, targeted coverage, we can focus on creating a more data driven model,. This model can start with using the end customer data to decide the right influencers for their campaigns.”

Coverage is a very key deliverable for PR firms in India, where traditional media engagement remains an important communication strategy.

What do journalists want?

Even as the mainstream media faces monetisation challenges to be a profitable media organisation and yet maintain editorial quality, journalists are beginning to be more open to high quality brand information provided by PR professionals.

The Cision ‘2018 Global State of the Media Report’ flagged the following points as chief concerns for journalists in a study that covered 6 countries in Europe and North America.

  1. Being accurate is more important than being first
  2. Journalists are concerned about fake news and trust in the media
  3. Reporters and editors still trust the press release the most
  4. PR professionals are being asked to provide accurate, newsworthy information.

Most of these concerns are equally valid for journalists in India. The economic liberalisation in the early 1990s and the rise of business journalism in India gave rise to the current media-PR relationship which has remained bogged down by an adversarial tone. While business journalism has relied on PR, political journalism less so. However, today, as business and political issues merge more and more due to social media, there is an enormous opportunity for Indian PR firms to change the narrative with journalists. Key for this change is the need for PR professionals to be viewed as credible sources of relevant information, rather than little more than spammers. Journalists in India frequently complain about being called to do stories about beats they longer cover and for newspapers they longer work with.

How do journalists in India want to be engaged?

Journalists in India are on most online platforms; Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook. However, for formal PR engagement, they still prefer the email as all information is a central, easily searchable thread and it’s on record, a key concern while reporting stories.

At the same time Indian journalists and influencers are active on social media, with many mainstream newsgroups making it a contractual obligation for journalists to post their stories online. PR professionals can, D’Souza suggests, “Use the social media handles of the journalist and influencers to identify and engage with the targeted influencer. It gives you ring side seats for live action. It allows you to start the process of relationship building, so that they are more likely to be open to your press release when you send it later.”

An additional challenge faced by PR and communications professionals is that independent influencers are cropping up on new social channels, blogs and websites at an exponential rate and keeping up with them seems impossible. According to Cision, over 75% of brands say they struggle to identify the right influencers for their campaigns.

Kulpreet Freddy Vesuna, founder, Impact PR Pvt Ltd agrees that as a result of multiple influencers, “ The Indian consumer market is overloaded with content. Hence, it’s not only difficult to convince them but also challenging to get their attention.  Data helps in setting a unique positioning and rich storytelling.”

Additionally Vesuna explains, “If you have data about journalists, then you actually know the pulse of the journalist and can have much better conversations.”

Making your content relevant for journalists, bloggers and the end consumer

Answering a question on whether PR professionals are more strategic now about how they craft and position content, D’ Souza said, “PR professionals today have to continuously refine their content. I have begun to see a trend now where PRs, before starting to craft their strategy, want to see what the media is saying or thinks about a specific topic. If the sentiment is generally more negative, then they need to think more carefully about how they position their communications in order to negate a potential backlash.”

As Amit Yadav, sales manager, Cision India, says “Communications professionals also need to be aware of the likes, dislikes, interests, political ideologies of influencers and brands they associate with.

He adds, “More importantly, they have to be aware of the topics advocated by or critiqued by particular influencers, whether they are protagonists of a certain topic or antagonists. The pace of information is so fast that professionals who are not in sync with the current trends may lose their relevance. Once they have this intelligence at hand, they will be able to craft their stories in a manner that is most receptive to the targeted influencer.”

Samir Kapur, senior vice president and head of the New Delhi branch, Adfactors PR says that he believes, “A small number of people lead opinion in large groups. A reporter or a blogger writes about a particular idea and stimulates people who distribute the story until it becomes a wave. So good data analysis and implementation can help target mainstream media and influencer both. Let me explain this through “The House of Cards Phenomenon”.  In 2011, two producers pitched a political-drama series called House of Cards to traditional television networks. Television executives were skeptical about the show’s prospects, because they had a gut feeling that political dramas were out of vogue. Traditionally, TV majors base their decisions on executives’ instincts about public preferences. They had little alternative, because the data they had available on viewership was general and sparse.”

Kapur adds that, ”Netflix drew on its data to conclude that a sufficient percentage of its subscribers would like House of Cards. The streaming service could observe individual subscriber preferences and track their viewing habits, such as what times they watched and how often they watched. With this information, they could count the number of subscribers who were likely to enjoy the series and then tailor Netflix’s promotions accordingly. The rest, as they say, is history.”

About Cision’s products and services

Using Cision for insights to create engaging content in India

The Cision Communications Cloud can provide deep intelligence about various topics in the media within a particular time frame. It allows PR professionals to check which set of influencers advocate any specific topic, and it also allows them to check the kind of articles that have already been written – which enables them to craft meaningful communications.

With this intelligence, professionals can reach out to the right influencers with the right content at the right time in order to create maximum impact.

How can Cision help PR professionals in India distribute different types of content - from text, to audio, to video?

Cision offers a range of distribution services in India through traditional text press release distribution to multi-media distribution services which includes videos and images to targeted media outlets to ensure guaranteed views on a dedicated page created exclusively for their content.

The Cision Communications Cloud also allows email distribution to key influencers and social media distribution. Professionals will have all the possible means of communication at their disposal and they can use any of them based on their communication objectives.

What sectors does Cision’s media database cover in India?   
Cision covers all sectors – the top ones being national and international news, business, travel and entertainment. The firm also tracks publications through fashion and culture, books and literature and wellness.
What type of influencer coverage does the Cision Communications Cloud have in India?
The platform has 1.6 million global media contacts. In India specifically, Cision has data for around 12,000 media contacts - covering languages including English, Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati - from various sectors in India.
Top Tips on how PR professionals in India use PR Newswire to target specific audiences

PR Newswire can build awareness and generate media coverage, guide conversations and acquire new audiences.

The firm’s ‘India News Distribution’ portal guarantees delivery to the newsroom editorial systems of India’s national and regional newspapers, radio and television stations through the Press Trust of India’s (PTI) dedicated newsfeed, Indo-Asian News Services and Bloomberg terminal. It’s proprietary network includes over 170 + websites and over 5000 registered journalists through an award-winning ‘PR Newswire for Journalists’ portal.

Written by Paarul Chand+,

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