Rodney Lews, Editor, Ecommerce Platforms
PPC and PR might not seem like an obvious fit at first, but there are actually loads of great PPC tactics and wins that PR pros can learn from and make the most of. Mathematical, strategic, competitive — PCC is a real marketing powerhouse.
And from the PPC perspective, there are loads of ways that PR professionals can add value to ongoing PPC campaigns and initiatives.
The relationship between PR and SEO is well-documented, so it’s about time we lifted the lid on effective PPC and PR cross-pollination…
The role of PPC in the marketing ecosystem
PPC is the revolver of the marketing world — lean, accurate, and deadly when used right. Let’s look at some of the main ways that brands can benefit from PPC:
PPC is the ideal weapon of choice for brands and businesses who are entering new markets, need to generate hype quickly, or have a very specific and aggressive competitor-set they are competing against.
- PPC can also be a great way for brands with targeted value propositions to ‘seed’ their products or services with future brand advocates. As PPC gives you a lot of control over your targeting, you can directly ‘speak’ to your core audience through contextual advertising.
- PPC can also be an antidote to negative press, or even a humorous vehicle for brand-jacking.
Programmatic technology is changing the ways brands bid for PPC, and new advertising channels are popping up everywhere. Alongside old favorites like Google Adwords and Facebook, brands can now also advertise on Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.
Confused about PPC terms? Check out this handy programmatic acronyms glossary.
How PPC can help PR & comms professionals
PPC can help PR teams seed PR campaigns, help protect brand equity, and launch new products. PPC can even act as a customer or audience research tool.
Paid media, whether that’s on search engines or on social media, is a sound investment. Using PPC, you can control the messaging, the creative, and the audience targeting of your ad. For example, you could use PPC to highlight a recent corporate ‘feel-good’ story or help steer the coverage around a merger or acquisition.
PPC is a powerful driver or branded traffic, especially for high-power individuals. You could use it to highlight a relaunched website or a new addition to a brand portfolio.
Accessing a brand’s PPC data can provide valuable insights on audience targeting and current brand performance. It might also unearth fresh PR campaign angles you hadn’t even considered before, so it’s always a good idea to do a frequent data download from the PPC team.
Social media PPC
Paid ads on social media are cost-effective marketing tool. Good Facebook ad campaigns have almost single-handedly launched brands onto the world stage, and many have gone viral in recent years thanks to emotive messaging and extensive social proof.
By adopting paid social media ads as part of your PR strategy, you’ll be gaining a very powerful audience engagement tool. See social media PPC as another weapon in your campaign arsenal.
On the PPC side, working with PR teams on the ad creative and messaging will help elevate social media ads from the banal and commercial to a genuine brand engagement channel. Review what sort of advertising is going out on a regular basis, and see if you can help elevate the messaging.
PPC brand protection
PR professionals know that protecting your brand equity means taking both a reactive and proactive approach — and PPC can help you with both. Bidding on similar terms to your competitor and jumping on the PPC favorite formula: ‘market leader brand + alternative’ are quick ways to hack growth.
If you’re creating a bespoke media or PR campaign, you can use PPC as a way to bid on campaign keywords and ‘own’ the conversation. PPC listening can also offer invaluable insights on your competition, and even lift the lid on the latest industry trends and the topics likely to appeal to media publications. When it comes to brand protection, it’s advisable that all channels — PPC, SEO, and PR work together for a holistic and unified brand experience.
PPC in a PR crisis
When it comes to a PR crisis or a brand reputation issue, PPC can be a handy ally. Wells Fargo used it to great effect as reported by Strategy Beam in 2016 — they used to it combat negative press and highlight more neutral stories like the address done by their CEO. It’s a great example of a brand trying to take back control during a time of reputational crisis.
Running some relevant content alongside ‘breaking news stories’ will help contextualize any negative press — and this content can be easily promoted via PPC (when PR might not be an advisable strategy).
Positive PPC and association
PPC can also be a force for good. Use PPC to seed charity campaigns, CSR initiatives, and increase donations. PPC can be a great way to catch the eye of help on the hunt for their next philanthropic venture.
PPC can also be used as a positive brand association tool — use it to highlight all the good things you are doing in the world as a brand.
Pitching & credibility
It might sound outlandish, but PPC has been used to target people and publications with a PR pitch in the past! Though data and privacy laws are changing micro-targeting, you can still use PPC to position someone as an industry expert and highlight things like their speaking credentials for example.
PPC landing pages
Getting people to click through to a landing page via an ad is only the first hurdle — then you have to contend with making the landing page something people want to engage with. This is where PR strategy can inform PPC, by providing the right sort of brand credentials and value propositions that are going to engage the target market. Adding a ‘featured in’ or ‘trusted by’ block on a landing page can help quickly boost brand trust and credibility.
Choosing between SEO and PPC
Though SEO and PPC are very different tactics, they work well together, and they’re both a good match for PR too. PPC has a shorter lead time and is often touted as being ‘on-demand’, but it still takes a considerable amount of work to create a well-performing PPC campaign and get it out there. Don’t be suckered into thinking that PPC is just like turning a tap on and off — there’s a bit more to it than that.
SEO and PPC are both best used as part of a multichannel marketing strategy where PR talks to both of them There’s certainly a fruitful PPC/PR/SEO cross-pollination opportunity here for brands willing to take the leap (and the ones who do will reap the rewards).
The best marketing strategies are ones that take a holistic and channel-inclusive approach. By integrating paid, organic, and PR you can create a strong and unified brand strategy.
About the Author: Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsior.”