The Evolution of Modern Day Public Relations

Things are what they seem.

It seems like almost every month there is a new trend for PR and it doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down anytime soon. While traditional public relations efforts have usually included mass emails, television, and unique marketing techniques, a lot has happened to change the way marketers approach PR today. However, some companies still experience a struggle in trying to determine what PR means for 2019 and beyond. How many times have you been asked what exactly is public relations? Where do we start?

One thing for sure is that media relations will continue to play an essential role in how companies decide to launch, grow, influence, raise capital, and create services and products. The following includes a list of the critical elements Kansas City public relations experts and Midwest public relations specialists believe will shape the PR industry moving forward.

1. Data, both big and small, will continue to play an increasingly important role in helping companies tell their unique stories and help move the bottom line. Business owners must collect and analyze data accurately to create a winning PR strategy. Data collected should dictate how and to whom they tell compelling stories that inspire interest in the market, catch the eye of journalists, and the company’s readership. You don’t have to be an IT expert to understand that data, just jump online and do a little research. Thanks to Google Trends you can find the most commonly used search terms for your product or industry and use this to pick your target market or try other sites like Pew Research, Gallup and Mintel for new industry-specific data.

2. Pitching has changed. Gone are the days of mass emails, at least they should be gone. In the past, media relations concerning journalists and bloggers worked because the people mentioned were not inundated with emails. However, that’s not the case anymore. Media relations with mass pitching works best only if a company has the time to study everyone on their press list and can tailor the message accordingly. Bloggers and journalists all receive hundreds of pitches every day via email, and they can quickly weed out content that is not a good fit. Are you following them on social media or engage with them on a recent blog post? At the very least, have you looked at their LinkedIn profile? C’mon guys, do your homework.

3. Anyone who can perform effective analytics and interpret their findings is worth their weight in gold. In times past, all it took to get the consumer’s attention was to place a banner advertisement where it could be easily seen. Exterior walls and TV worked just fine but small, and mid-size companies don’t have this type of budget. Today’s consumer is likely to look for the numbers and facts that back up creative advertising. Marketers and business owners must collect data on existing and prospective clients, and then apply that data to mathematics that consumers can accept.

4. Public relations in the new age is no longer defined or controlled by media alone. PR is more than media relations, says Gini Dietrich, owner of Spin Sucks. I tend to believe a lot of what she says. Why? Because she speaks public relations fluently and has a realistic grasp on the PR industry and just how vital it is to any business that wants to grow and scale.

The entire world is one big village. Technology, word of mouth, influencers and the Internet have changed the game forever. It used to be the press that ruled the awareness of a company’s brand. Today, it is possible for a single person with a substantial social media following to determine the fate of a company. Same goes for word-of-mouth marketing. 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know, and people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. “One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.” – Jim Rohn

People place a lot of trust in online influencers like bloggers. Bloggers have become incredibly influential and can be those persons to turn to when a company needs to get the word out about their offerings. However, the strong impact of influencers can also be mystifying when trying to determine ROI. It is challenging to know the impact an influencer will have on a PR campaign, but with the help of data and analytics, you can begin to show their worth and influence. Set realistic goals when working with influencers and don’t set your heart on vanity metrics, look at their engagement not just the number of followers they have.

5. Another emerging trend is that publicity is no longer the end game. There is no guarantee that publicity will continue to produce the desired results half a year down the road. Customer satisfaction is now the end game and something that should be considered at every step along the way. If customers are not happy with your products or services, publicity may have an impact no more than a week out. When was the last time you talked to your team about how to answer the phone in a kind and mature way or respond to a disgruntled customer? Soft-skills need a refresh, and there’s no better time to set the standard than now. Hand-written letters make an impression, don’t forget the little things.

6. Content creation is another critical element that alters the idea that publicity comes primarily from mainstream media. Social media is here to stay and is what billions of people rely on to stay connected. The big four networks include Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Getting noticed on any of these networks requires a content marketing plan. Are you creating original content, asking for testimonials from clients or engaging with your audience daily? When creating content, don’t forget to use a keyword tool like Google Keyword or Keywordtool.io to find out what’s trending in your space. Content is king.

Of course, in today’s world, it is very common for a person or company to create its own PR campaign. If you’re planning on creating a personal PR campaign, here are just a few elements to include:

Set realistic and timely goals and then clarify each one. Those goals should center around building customer awareness, creating beneficial relationships, improving the company’s brand image, and successfully growing the brand. Each target should impact the company positively.

Who are you going after? Once you clarify your goals, determine who receives the information. Nail down your customer personas. Demonstrate how the brand will meet consumer needs and what problem you will solve. Personas help us define the ideal customer we’re trying to attract, and it’s critical in generating content, sales funnels, and brand ambassadors. What are your customers biggest challenges, what keeps them up at night, where do they get their information? These are all good questions to keep in mind when doing the research.

Delivery. Choose your Method of delivery. Your media goals will help define the type of content to use and the best means of delivering it. Think in terms of publications, press releases, podcasts, or blogging and influencers. Which channel has the most engagement, what type of buyer is on each of those channels? Just because there are a variety of outlets you can use doesn’t mean that they should be. Start with where you’re most active and expand after you’ve perfected the message and the relationship.

Business owners can also choose to rely on the expertise of public relations professionals who keep their fingers on the pulse of modern-day public relations best practices and have perfect their in-house systems. What are we missing and what do you think is most important?