You’re about to launch your next product, host an enormous event, rebrand your company or otherwise gear up for a major announcement. You’ve hired a PR firm to help drive outreach to land stories that will propel audience exposure and provide critical third-party credibility.

The problem? Given the 24-hour news cycle, that great story that takes you forever to land is only going to receive organic exposure for a very short period of time.

Furthermore, while media outlets provide estimates around impressions, they don’t give you detailed data and analytics (yes, it remains a grand wish) around the stories they publish. While inbound referral traffic measured through Google Analytics or social signals (give BuzzSumo a whirl) can provide a slice of insight into story engagement, there remains a lack of insight based on unique views, time on story, scroll depth and other measures that can be analyzed when a story is published on your brand’s owned properties.

Enter paid media.

Content discovery tools such as Outbrain and Taboola, as well as social advertising on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, can serve as a critical bridge to amplify your story AND gain valuable engagement insights.

For a communications or PR lead for a brand or organization, this may all seem counterintuitive. Why would we use budget for paid media when we’re already using media relations to get our message out?

Great question. And here are four great answers:

1. Maximize the Lifespan of an Earned Media Hit

As previously noted, news stories cycle out fast. We always think about using paid to drive traffic to our own sites. But there’s nothing stopping you from using it to drive traffic to other sites telling your story. Content discovery tools and promotion on social channels can keep fueling traffic to your story for days, weeks, months beyond the day the story publishes.

2. Maximize an Owned Story from Your Earned Media Hit

Smart marketers are using their clients’ own blogs to publish and promote a variation of an earned media hit, maximizing exposure to their target audience. Paid media not only puts eyes on the story but gives you rich data and insights to work with. You can make top-level comparisons around impressions, cost-per-click and click-through rate to see which channels and ad creative are most effective in driving to the media outlet’s story or your owned story, ultimately helping optimize your paid media spend in real-time.

3. Retarget to Your Audience

Retargeting is becoming more and more powerful and necessary. Facebook jumped into the retargeting game early and continues to advance their approachTwitter and LinkedIn have both entered the retargeting game. Taboola is now offering retargeting (Outbrain sure to follow soon), and we know paid search retargeting has always been in the game.

The point being that paid media allows you to place your hard-earned media hit directly in front of your target audience as well as lookalike audiences you haven’t reached yet.

4. Use Data and Analytics to Shift Strategy

The insights and analytics you gather from your paid media campaigns will reveal new things about your content and audience. For example, the headline that works best for a particular story will inform how you allocate your paid dollars for that particular campaign, as well as how your team thinks about writing headlines in the future. Adding data to what your guts and instinct tell you about storytelling will make your campaigns — and the rationale you give to higher-ups — sharper and more grounded.

While the paid media space continues to shift at a rapid pace, the implications and effectiveness for accelerating media relations efforts are already very apparent. It’s time to start taking advantage to maximize third-party credibility.

photo credit: NS Newsflash via photopin cc

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