PR Has Changed. Has Your PR Firm?
PR isn’t what it used to be. Nothing is what it used to be.
Your PR firm shouldn’t be what it used to be either. I read an article this week questioning if the latest Google update killed PR agencies. I was dismayed by the overall article, that it is even circulating on the Internet, and wondered if it’s even a legitimate source, which is why I won’t deign to link to it here.
The premise of the article argued that the latest Google update is going after news releases, and links in news releases, therefore news releases are dead, and because of that, so too PR agencies. Head. Meet wall.
First of all, a quick side note on the news release item – Google penalizes unnatural linking and keyword stuffing. Nothing has changed. If you are stuffing your news release, Google is getting better at penalizing you. As always, the news release should be relevant, interesting (shares and links to it prove that) and have natural links and keywords.
But the main point I want to address is this: The idea that the death knell of the news release is that of the PR agency is ludicrous. I am a PR agency and I haven’t written a news release for a client in almost a year.
PR has changed, but firms are far from dead. Their roles have expanded if they choose to take on the mission.
But here are a few things you might need from your modern PR agency to stay ahead of your expanding communications challenges.
Essentially, our job is to help businesses communicate their ideas and connect with the right audiences to deliver results based on real business goals.
Much of what PR and communications firms have always been doing hasn’t changed such as messaging and content development, crisis and reputation management (although the execution has changed thanks to social sites), and internal and investor relations.
Here are a few more things your modern PR agency should be handling for you.
PR firms are in the business of SEO
Because so much occurs online now from discovery and research to relationship building and sales, PR pros are charged with getting stories, content, communications found online. That means your PR firm should understand SEO.
PR firms must be social
Search involves more than the technical details of keyword research and on and off page optimization. Google, Bing and others rank content based on its relevancy and popularity. They judge that by social shares and backlinks (via media and blogger outreach). Businesses need online communities in order for their content to be shared.
PR firms do more than media relations; they do influencer relations
In the old days, you relied on your PR agency to find an intermediary to get your story out. Now the middle man is gone. Businesses have become their own publishing houses. And because of that, your PR firm should be able to help you with multimedia content such as video, podcast and blog.
Your PR firm is likely still doing media outreach but that has broadened to blogger and influencer relations. Landing a story in The New York Times might be great for traffic but a targeted story in a very small but niche blog will likely convert better.
The days of hiring a PR firm to write a news release and get you in your favorite magazine are over. Spreading word of mouth via content, social and targeted influencers is far more effective.
So yes, you still need a PR firm. Before hiring a modern PR agency, ask them what they think of the media landscape and if they have evolved to meet the changing needs. See if they bring up the need to get found online (SEO), the need to get social, create relevant content, and build relationships with influencers.
Image: marsmetn (Creative Commons)
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