As PR professionals, we’re always looking for additional ways to generate exposure at scale without blowing through our already-limited budgets. Truth be told, there are a very limited number of tools at our disposal. However, every now and then, you’ll run across a new option that you hadn’t previously considered—PPC advertising is probably one of them.
What is PPC advertising?
PPC advertising is a term you’ve likely heard before, but what is it? As Wordstream explains, “PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to ‘earn’ those visits organically.”
Each time someone clicks on your ad and visits your website or landing page, you pay a small cost. Sometimes it’s pennies (for keywords that aren’t very competitive). Other times, it’s dollars. The point is, you only pay when someone clicks. That means you’re basically getting free impressions and exposure, as well as low-cost traffic for those who are interested enough to engage with the ad.
PPC ads can be purchased in a variety of places, but two of the most common platforms are Google AdWords and Facebook. With Google AdWords, your ad is served on the first page of Google results for the specific keywords you target. With Facebook, your ads can be delivered in the newsfeed or as a smaller ad in the sidebar.
4 ways to use PPC in PR
While PPC can be highly effective, you have to use it right. According to PPC.co, less than 25 percent of PPC ads produce any conversions. That means you need to be partnered with the right company in order to avoid broken ad spend.
Having said that, if you learn how to dial in your campaigns, you can get some pretty amazing results.
Here are several ways you can use PPC as a PR tool:
1. Inexpensive exposure
As a PR professional, exposure is part of the job description. Your objective is to put your brand in front of as many of the right people as possible and convey a positive sentiment and message that creates positive brand associations. And even though there are plenty of ways to do this, PPC continues to be an untapped option. It provides inexpensive exposure and can work without breaking the bank.
As previously mentioned, you’re not paying for ad placement or impressions. You’re simply paying when people click. The good news is that you don’t always need someone to click in order to generate positive exposure. Simply showing up over and over in someone’s newsfeed is often enough to establish some positive brand equity.
2. Better social media penetration
Building an organic social media presence takes a lot of time and effort. You have to truly commit to content creation (which is very resource-intensive) and engage with followers over and over again to build serious momentum.
With Facebook or Instagram ads, you can show up in the news feeds of highly targeted individuals and earn their engagement without any previous relationship. In other words, you don’t have to get them to follow a boring company page.
3. PR crisis defense
When a crisis strikes, PPC can come to the rescue. Whereas every other Google search result for your brand name might deliver a negative news story, PPC ads can help you combat the negative press by highlighting positive or neutral stories. In fact, Wells Fargo used this exact strategy with great success back in 2016 when everyone was talking about their “accounts scandal.”
4. Seeding campaigns
Finally, you can use PPC ads to seed CSR initiatives or charity campaigns by getting an initial burst of support. From there, you can let the campaigns grow organically. You can think of this as “buying” initial support so that others see the vision in the project.
Adding it all up
When leveraged properly, PPC can be an effective PR tool that takes your campaigns to the next level. Whether it’s a part of a proactive plan to seed campaigns and increase exposure with your target audience, or part of a reactive plan to defend your brand in the midst of a crisis, PPC advertising is an effective weapon in the brand-building arsenal. Use it wisely and you’ll enjoy a multitude of benefits.