Integrated PR is the convergence of communications and brand content activations across paid, earned, shared and owned media (confused by this jargon, read more about the PESO model here).
Within our organisation, integrated PR and communications also involves the planning, execution and measurement of big, bold brand activations and it is central to making award winning work that wins hearts and minds.
The honest answer to the question: “what is integrated PR?”, is there isn’t a set industry definition. You could ask ten different PR practitioners to define integrated PR and get a different answer each time. Some say integrated communications is the blending of PR and marketing. Others say that integrated PR is the same as creative PR where brand activations and stunts are often used to extend the reach of a PR campaign.
What is certain is integrated work is being commissioned in a wide variety of ways by clients. While many brands aren’t necessarily issuing RFPs to hire integrated PR agencies (search volumes for this term are low), brands are instead often looking for agencies with great credentials and experience. They are looking for those agencies with great PR examples and creative case studies and are searching for agencies with track records of producing award-winning work. They want an agency with a track record of delivering creative PR executions.
What else can you tell me about integrated PR?
Integrated PR is central to most if not all consumer PR strategies. Brands want big bold and refreshing campaigns that engage with their target audiences.
While the press release is far from dead, it is the editorial story that is the key to the success of an integrated campaign and the more engaging the creative execution or brand activation, the more effective the campaign can be at telling an engaging brand narrative.
The cliche of floating something down the River Thames, or other often visited creative tropes – for example well-trodden creative ideas such as sending X product into outer space, best job in the world, research led campaigns – simply won’t cut it.
In the digital age, the more visual and ‘experiential’ the campaign the greater the outcome. This type of PR involves some kind of online activation of the story that is shareable, visual and engaging, often with a means to interact with the campaign in real life, in a public place or online. Integrated campaigns often are delivered across the PESO mix as detailed below:
- Paid social media strategies: where sites like Facebook and Instagram are often used to amplify reach of an integrated campaign by paying for increased visibility to complement organic visibility, allowing brands to ensure their PR campaigns have maximum exposure.
- Organic shared media: is also deployed, perhaps sharing the core brand activation via an existing community such as Reddit, or using influencers as a means to amplify reach or for third party endorsement (yes, this could also be a paid for, there are blurred lines here).
- Owned media assets: for example client websites and microsites, are used in infinitely creative ways to maximise campaign results. These can form important places to drive organic traffic via blogging, data capture or help agencies and brand measure campaign effectiveness using Google Analytics.
- Earned media coverage: Earned media coverage is the result of media relations activity. A good integrated PR campaign must also have a strong earned media element to drive media relations and secure media coverage. This is key to the entire strategy because if it is not newsworthy or a good editorial story then the entire campaign is probably too weak.
Very often earned media drives a lot of the the social media engagement because media sites covering the campaign’s narrative are shared by the public on social media. Or, sometimes if a campaign takes off with solely online engagement, it is the earned media strategy that drives the awareness and gives an integrated campaign longevity long after the social media buzz has died away.
Not only does the earned media element drive brand awareness and attention but the coverage will often be visible in organic search for many years to come. Any links earned in the press coverage will help support SEO objectives and organic visibility in search engines.