In 2014, I made a case for PRTech and the opportunities that lie therein. Since I wrote the article, PRTech has seen explosive growth, a fact marked by continued consolidation of the old guard and the emergence of new entrants across the industry.
To wit, PR software company Cision has acquired a range of sub-niche companies, including news distributor PR Newswire, content marketing and social media management platforms Viralheat and Visible Technologies, and media intelligence platform Gorkana. Not to be outdone, Nasdaq acquired Newswire service Marketwired. In addition to these developments, more cloud communications tools are becoming available to PR professionals, empowering them in the same way that digital marketers have been empowered for years.
With regard to PRTech reaching the heights of AdTech or MarTech, it’s no longer a matter of if. It’s about just how quickly businesses will accept data insights-driven PR as a powerful piece to the marketing puzzle. What’s it going to take to get PR a permanent seat at the table? And now that we have the technologies (and data) to prove that PR is a key contender in the KPI game, will companies finally consider aligning PR more closely with marketing efforts? The answers to these questions are still to be determined and require some more changes in the marketing mindset, but I do believe we’re on our way.
While PR professionals and marketers battle over what is really moving the needle, companies such as Narrative Science, IrisPR,TapInfluence, Onalytica and PressFriendly continue to blossom, offering more science behind what used to be a primarily qualitative field. Yes, that article in Fortune, Wall Street Journal or VentureBeat was great for brand awareness, but did it actually drive traffic or push leads further down the funnel? Now we have tools to answer the questions that many CEOs think matter most.
AirPR, a SaaS company I’ve invested in, is another organization that’s helped to forge the greater PRTech ecosystem. They preach the “science of PR” (data, insights) as the counterweight to the “art” of PR (the creative storytelling based on those insights). In short, we’re seeing big progress in how we measure the effectiveness and impact of PR.
Here are a few reasons why we’re seeing more investments in the PRTech space:
First and foremost, the PR industry is a $30 billion market, yet it has struggled to showcase ROI since the dawn of the Internet. Opportunities undoubtedly lie therein, and investors who saw the potential in MarTech and AdTech (in their nascence) are seeing the potential in PRTech, too.
If you believe in PR’s ability to increase brand equity and influence sales, you can see how brand marketing and PR are steadily becoming one and the same in terms of how they serve businesses. These two disciplines should be interconnected, and many companies are missing out on valuable opportunities because their departments work in vacuums. Together, they are more effective, as both teams deal with messaging, public perception and customer touch points. Further automation in both marketing and PR will help reduce the number of inefficient silos which block both collaboration and integrated measurement. And let’s not forget to throw Content Marketing into the same mix.
In addition to analytics and data, PRTech is being driven more and more by a shift in thinking where content is a key driver of lead generation, customer growth and, ultimately, revenue. And there is plenty of evidence that Earned media, typically driven by PR, has an outsized effectiveness. Those who acknowledge the connection between the various elements that make up a brand’s content landscape (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media) are the ones who understand the potential of this untapped space.
Last but certainly not least, how we measure content is getting more advanced as companies apply technology to automate data aggregation, insights and analysis. Page views and clickthroughs are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we think about effective content and ultimately who is behind the best-performing, most compelling storytelling. With AI/machine learning, big data and analytics, we are starting to better understand which types of content are working and which are not, thus allowing us to create more targeted content campaigns that foster brand trust and sales conversions while reducing waste and generating the highest impact possible.
Now that the PRTech ecosystem is growing, marketing and PR can better leverage content and data from each other in order to build cost-effective, robust strategies. I like how Storm Ventures’ Tae Hea Nahm explained marketing and PR’s co-mingling in hisrecent Medium post: “By placing a ‘value’ on the assist, and understanding how PR essentially impacts a business, we create new opportunities to reach our targets in a more authentic way. Something that is often lost during the marketing and sales process.” It’s a great way of looking at it.
Read the original blog posting on Forbes here.