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The Evolution of PR: How to Survive the Future

Historically, public relations has been all about earned media. With the increase in digital media and the decrease in the public’s attention span, PR is no longer limited to one type of communication.

The PR pro of the future isn’t concerned about whether their audience receives their message through organic media, paid media or a third-party.  At the end of the day, it’s all about if your audience receives the correct message.

During the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference, Cision CMO Mark Thabit outlined the new era of public relations in his session, “Ahead of the Curve: Implementing a Paid, Earned and Owned Strategy.”

Here are some of his key takeaways:

Measure, for real

Measure PR - Evolution of PR

Put the scissors down, and stop cutting out those press clippings. Those days are over and while you’re at it, forget Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE), too. It’s not that the PR pros from the past didn’t want to measure their campaigns; the tools just weren’t available.

Mark suggests for better measurement, setup everything for tracking. “If you’re not looking at Google Analytics, you need to start,” Mark says. “You need to measure your PR impact.”

By tagging press releases, social media posts and other PR efforts with Google URL builder, you can get a picture of which brings customers, donors and other stakeholders to your site.

Mark also warns PR pros against only using last touch attribution tools. Since public relations assists in many leads, a last touch attribution model will not show the full extent of PR’s impact. Using tools like Vocus, Cision and Google URL builder can help paint the picture.

Mastering PR measurement won’t just help you hone your campaigns, it will help you get “a seat at the table, ” Mark says. What does that mean? Depending on the data, that could mean potentially more staff, larger budgets and opportunities to weigh in on business decisions.

“Build it and they will come” is over

Build It and They Will Come - Evolution of PR

In 2014, virtually everyone knows that content is king. We’re in an always-on culture where audiences devour content faster than the speed of a tweet. Since the majority of brands know this, public relations professionals are faced against stiff competition getting content noticed. Mark explains that good content is not enough to attract audiences anymore. “The build it and they will come days are over,” he says.

So what’s a good PR pro to do? That’s where PR strategy comes in. Quality content is no longer a guarantee for standing out; that’s the new expectation from audiences. Content needs to be optimized and amplified to stand a chance in today’s fast paced world.

Amplify your message

Amplify - Evolution of PR

There are so many avenues available to PR pros who want to get their message to their audiences. Whether it’s a press release, social media or a blog, the opportunities are endless. However, an increase in content creators makes it more difficult than ever.

When it comes to using social media, Mark advises practitioners be willing to “pay to play.” If you’re not willing to pay, your message’s impact will diminish.

Not sure if you want to put money behind your message via advertising? Mark suggests testing the waters with your organic social posts. For example if a post performs well on Facebook, amplify it by putting some money behind it.

Another tactic from Mark’s bag of tricks is to leverage media success to get bigger outlets to find you. For example, you could respond to a HARO query and get featured on a medium-tier blog. Next, you can promote your feature through paid platforms such as Twitter ads, exposing your story to more people and outlets, opening yourself up to more coverage.

What are some other measurement practices PR pros need to embrace?

Want to see what Brian Solis envisions for PR? Get his free e-book, “What if PR Stood for People and Relationships?,” now!

About Adrienne Sheares

Adrienne Sheares is an enthusiast for all things social media. On the rare times she’s not on social media, she loves watching any cooking show and frequently pretends she’s a “Top Chef” contestant in her kitchen. You can find her on Twitter at @SocialMediaDC.

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