The Changing Landscape of PR and How Companies Can Capitalize
August 9, 2017
By Doreen Clark
The days of single-focus PR are gone, and Jerry Maguire-esque “Show me the money” slogans are just that: slogans. It was never that simple, and today’s PR has evolved, morphed, and merged. Public relations has gone beyond media outreach, and today it is much more than a subset of marketing. It is a partner. And with that…the times—they are a-changin’.
Some of the changes are due to technology, others stem from the need to create a strategy that is comprehensive, and yet others are from a media industry that has been turned upside down. In any event, PR professionals will lead you through the transition. Engage in the opportunities, embrace the potential, and evolve with your PR team. Change can be good. Below are seven ways to capitalize on the new PR frontier.
1. Desire for Show and Tell
Public Relations is not just about the written word anymore. We live in a visually stimulated, multimedia, world. Therefore, your company must not only tell—you must show your product, showcase your thought leaders, and share your content in a way that will capture both your audience’s attention and that of the media. It’s not an either-or game. Create content and then talk about it through a video or turn your blog into a vlog. Your strategy should capture the potential that has come from technology, and your marketing team is fully capable to rise to the challenge. After all, if your audience is watching and the media are looking for interesting ways to get their point across, you need to create a platform that caters to how they want to engage. The media will appreciate the effort, and the visual will make an interesting addition to their articles.
2. Need for Senior Expertise
PR has evolved and so should the PR team. Social media, SEO, marketing automation, and the potential impact of brand recognition on the sales funnel have crossed the lines into the world of PR. The need for a comprehensive strategy has taken center stage, and it is not the task of an intern. Your organization needs to know that the PR agency has experts with a broad range of skills to meet the new demands and the experience to make it happen. Ideas are not enough—there must be people in place who can bring it to life.
3. Demand for Content
Remember when public relations was all about connecting with an influencer? Though this is still important, it is not the be-all-end-all. As part of your PR strategy, your organization must promote its experts. It’s not enough to connect. The thought leader must become the influencer. The best way to do this is through content creation. As the public relations landscape has shifted, opportunities have been created, and your company must use that to its advantage. Your PR team can coordinate with your inbound marketing team to promote your existing content. They should work to make your thought leaders the go-to experts via byline articles or by securing a spot, as a regular contributor, at an online industry publication. Add to the industry conversations by creating new content or share what already exists with the media—either way, content is king.
4. Shift for Digital
Everybody knows that there has been a large transition from print to digital. It has been years in the making. Print outlets today have an online presence, and some, which were traditionally print, have even moved to only providing content in a digital format. This has changed everything. It has had an impact on advertising—creating a trickle-down effect for marketing and PR as outlets have had to become creative with the way in which revenue is generated. It has also impacted the conversations with the media. In the past, your public relations team could look at the editorial calendar to spur a conversation; however, those calendars showed a topic for each of the 12 months. With the transition to the 24/7 news cycle, the PR world has been impacted as the editorial calendar, for many outlets, is either a thing of the past, is only loosely followed, or is only imperative for those looking for advertising.
So, as digital continues to take precedence, what can your company do to jump on the bandwagon? Be sure that your PR team has the connections that allow for a heavy focus on digital outlets. After all, you can always get a reprint if you desire. Be sure that your team is engaging with reporters through social media and use the editorial calendar, if the outlets have one, as an icebreaker for a digital article.
Pro Tip: Create an electronic press kit to help boost your digital efforts.
5. Embrace the Underdog
Staff writers used to be the main targets for your PR team’s media efforts. As the news cycle expanded, outlets were no longer able to generate enough in-house written content, creating the need for freelancers and bloggers. What used to be a second (or third) choice by PR professionals has skyrocketed to a new level of importance. After all, it is possible that there are fewer staff writers than there are freelancers, bloggers and industry thought leaders writing content. Therefore, there must be a mind shift. This audience must be considered—and seriously. There is a major opportunity here, and your public relations team should be on top of it. PR is in the business of building relationships. When working with freelancers, if your team can become a go-to source, it is likely that you may have a multitude of opportunities, at numerous outlets, over time. Most freelancers write for many outlets, and this can give you more bang for your buck. With that being said, your PR team must pay even closer attention to the reporter’s area of coverage. It can change often, making it important to stay up to date on what they cover. Lastly, some blogs have a large audience; therefore, this is a target that can’t be ignored. Just keep in mind that, unlike traditional outlets, their opinions don’t have to reflect that of the outlet, making the writing less neutral.
6. Crave Personalized Measurement
Today strategic public relations plans can include countless efforts—from expert sourcing to byline submissions to award submissions and speaking engagements to crisis communications, among others. PR plans cross boundaries working with marketing teams, web development teams, advertising teams, and social media teams. With everything available to companies today and the ability to collaborate across departments, it has become more important than ever to personalize the PR experience. It’s not a one-size-fits-all or a cookie-cutter plan. It is about your company’s organizational goals. It is about your company’s budget. It is about the market that you want to reach. Therefore, it is no surprise that measurement has followed suit, personalizing and tracking what is important to your goals. This is an opportunity for your public relations team to not only report on its results but to dig deeper into the things that matter most to you from views to audience engagement to referral traffic.
7. Require Marketing Coordination
There can’t be enough stress on the idea that marketing and PR have merged. PR is no longer a subdivision of marketing. They both need each other to give the biggest bang for the buck. After all, social media, blogs, videos, infographics, eBooks, and white papers give public relations a clear reason for interaction with the media, while PR can touch an audience and gain reach that marketing can’t attain alone. How can your company take advantage? Be sure that your PR team knows what is on the horizon for your marketing efforts. Consistency and cross-promotion are important for the success of any campaign. In other words, the right hand should know what the left is doing and vice versa. Get creative with your social strategy. If you become buzzworthy, the media may take notice.
Public relations has changed. Marketing’s relationship with public relations has changed, and the way your team interacts with the media has changed, bringing opportunities for increased visibility and recognition. One Jerry Maguire slogan still rings true: “Help me help you.” The more your organization embraces the new PR landscape, the more your company evolves with the new media and the more your team engages across platforms, the more you will be able to capitalize on what lies ahead.
About the author
Doreen Clark was formerly Director of Public Relations for SmartBug Media. She has over a decade of public relations and communications experience helping both B2B and consumer clients gain media exposure. Read more articles by Doreen Clark.