Public Relations and Marketing Convergence ~ Partnership or Battle?

4 min readJun 5, 2017

by Tom Becktold, founder at NewsDriver

Risk and reward in our brave world of social media has never been greater. The immediacy of impact is striking, with smartphones creating instant influencers and audiences, crisis and opportunity, anywhere and everywhere.

An overbooking confrontation caught on video sends United Airlines into a tailspin — impacting brand reputation and the bottom line.

A light-hearted fan request turns into brand opportunity for Wendy’s and #NuggsForCarter — generating massive amounts of earned, shared and owned media engagement.

The social media impact on brands is undeniable — reputations and revenue are at stake every moment of every day.

Social Growth

Social media is a driving force in communications convergence conversations because it crosses paid-earned-shared-owned (PESO) lanes that were traditionally helmed by different segments of the communications ecosystem.

Follow the money and you see how important social is to organizations. With social media ad spending growing 65% from 2015 to 2016, public relations professionals should be considering whether they are getting their fair share of that budget growth, and if not, why are they losing out to advertising, marketing, and dedicated social teams?

Public Relations Alignment

Public relations skills are well aligned with social media needs — I’d argue more so than any other communications discipline.

Look at just some of what PR regularly does: manage brand reputation, cultivate influencer relationships, develop crisis communications plans, mitigate the impact of negative news, identify and amplify positive news, generate earned coverage, build authority to spur secondary actions like purchase decisions.

Pretty much all are critical skills for effective social engagement. But public relations mostly isn’t winning the internal battle for social influence in the era of convergence.

Serving the Varied Needs of PR Influencers

As a long-time PR services veteran, my natural inclination is to look to the available tools for issues and opportunities. For more than 26 years, I lived convergence, using third-party marketing tools along with the PR tools of my then-employer, Business Wire, to influence a pretty sophisticated public relations audience.

Often maligned, commercial newswires actually do amazing work at broadcasting out press releases, the cornerstone of public relations content. They help seed content for search discovery, provide the unfiltered company voice to serve the detailed needs of reporters and analysts, and offer a trusted source for editors and investors that must make split-second decisions in an era of fake news.

But with social media and mobile audiences, the needs are different. The long-form press release often overwhelms with too much detail, lacks visual punch, and offers weak calls-to-action to effectively be used in paid and organic social programs.

And, since social networks are, at heart, ad networks, you’re not going to get much organic interaction without a paid boost. That’s where marketing, advertising, and social teams are filling a gap that I believe is better served by public relations.

Collaborative Opportunities to Boost PR

PR should be partnering with marketing for resources and insight. Marketing often has relevant visuals, videos, multimedia, and sets the broader key performance indicator (KPI) benchmarks, while PR sets the critical organic narrative. The PR narrative coupled with marketing visuals can be quickly adapted to appeal to mobile-social audiences.

New tools even incorporate marketing calls-to-action into messaging, to draw in, measure, and provide insights back on KPIs that resonate across the organization.

Just as PR uses paid distribution (newswires) to reach media and syndicate online, they should turn to paid social to target, reach and measure new mobile-social audiences.

Reimagining PR Content For A Mobile Social World

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That’s where my new venture, NewsDriver, comes into the picture. Together with co-founder Peter Brand, we adapt and reimagine existing press releases and other content for mobile and social audiences, and then use algorithmic insights and paid social to distribute directly to the audiences of brand influencers. And we measure it all, tracking impressions by influencer, click-through-rates, and other calls-to-action that align with public relations and marketing KPIs.

Look, we know audience convergence is here — we can’t segment behavior and the impact it has on a company’s reputation or bottom line. And because success and failure have such monumental consequences, PR is well-positioned to expand internal influence and thrive.

It’s early days for us at NewsDriver, but we’re helping PR teams do just that. Reimagining content, driving new traffic, providing relevant insights.

We invite you to take NewsDriver for a complimentary test drive.

Share your thoughts and opinions below, hit me up on twitter @becktold, or drop me an email.




Drive Content to New Destinations —Reimagine Public Relations Content And Better-Engage Today’s Mobile-Social Audiences