September 24, 2014
/ by Erin Feldman
Public relations isn’t media relations; at least, it’s no longer just media relations. PR now includes social media and content creation.
As PR’s realm expands in those areas, it will also incorporate measurement. Data and analysis are the name of the game when it comes to the future of PR.
Media relations remains a vital component of PR, but it isn’t the sole tactic in PR pros’ toolboxes. PR pros do need to send press releases. They need to find sympathetic reporters, journalists and bloggers and build a contact list. They need to pitch stories and monitor trends. They can’t, however, rely only on those elements. They have to broaden their scope in regard to what PR is and their role in that field.
Social media doesn’t belong to the marketing crew. It can be used to generate brand awareness, increase reach, and shape stories. When a PR crisis happens, it tends to take to the social airwaves. By having a PR person tracking those conversations, he or she can respond before the crisis turns into a maelstrom of negativity.
The person can also shift the story away from the offending incident and to how the brand is proactively responding to it. The marketing team may know how to handle such situations, but the PR pro is the one best equipped to manage them. He or she knows the brand’s guidelines when it comes to external communications and often has been coached in the art of mollification.
PR is not a press release. The release has a part to play, but today’s PR practitioner understands that different people consume information differently. One audience segment prefers videos and photos. Another needs more detailed information, such as the kind found in a white paper or case study. Still others want easy-to-digest content like infographics.
A benefit to creating content is that it can be pitched in addition to the traditional release or story. By becoming the news – in the sense of becoming the creators and publishers of content – PR pros are no longer reliant on company happenings and product launches. Much of that content, too, can be used to establish the brand as a thought leader.
Targeting influencers typically is a part of media relations. PR pros seek out celebrity endorsements and well-known publications in the interest of credibility and popularity. While both can be helpful, PR practitioners sometimes see more success if they target “everyday” people who are influential within certain spheres. They also see greater response rates by targeting lesser-known publications that are known and followed in those same spheres.
As PR becomes more integrated with technology, it becomes easier to measure. PR pros can see what efforts produced more buzz and brand affinity as well as conversions and leads. Measurement is crucial; it gives PR pros insights into their audiences and the ability to focus time and energy on the initiatives that work.
PR is transforming due to digital and social media. It’s become a field that requires not only an understanding of media relations but also of social networks, storytelling, and measurement. The PR pros who grasp the emerging tools and tactics available to them will be the ones who survive and thrive in the new world order.
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Images: uhlandfriends (Creative Commons)
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