PR, just like nearly every function of promotion, has had multiple faces since its inception. It is a field which has evolved into new forms multiple times and will continue to do so in the near future. Nowadays, PR is heavily linked with other functions, specifically in new-age marketing, such as content marketing, SEO, and even facets such as design. As the field expands, so do the ways in which brands and agencies approach journalists and publications in this contemporary world of PR.
Evolution of Public Relations
Traditional PR and traditional advertising went hand-in-hand. Back in the days, advertisers often swore by the ‘spray and pray’ approach – the notion of promoting your offerings anywhere and everywhere and praying that your target audience views it. Simultaneously, PR professionals were hired to ‘smile and dial’ – cold calling with the hope of securing leads. These concepts often boded well with the way the general public interacted with media (television, print, radio). With these forms of media, it was impossible to filter through content as per your convenience. With promotions being a key feature of all these mediums – you had no choice but to sit through all television ads, nor did you ever want to risk skipping a few pages in the newspaper.
Today, the way the general public accesses and consumes content is evolving with each passing day, which has brought along a shift in the media industry as well. A clear element driving this change is technology – in the form of new-age content, and concepts like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. New-age technology offers brands an ability to increase revenue and reduce costs through more intelligent automation and machine-powered predictions.
The future of Media will also see pitches that have new-age content formats like images, infographics, mixed media, data visualizations, and videos, as the preferred formats by journalists, since it holds and engrosses them with the ideas shared in the pitch.
However, while digital PR has gained immense popularity as online media is rapidly overtaking traditional print media, you must understand that there is still a place for traditional PR strategies. You must regularly scrutinise the differences between traditional vs. digital PR to ensure you’re utilising each to their full capacity.
A Shift Towards Inbound PR
Creating Customer-Centric Narratives
The first step towards an inbound PR strategy is creating a narrative your consumers care about. While it is critical to impress the journalists, forgetting about your consumer is a blunder you cannot afford to make. Instead of crafting releases or blog posts with the sole purpose of pleasing the journalists, ensure they resonate with your buyer persona.
Thinking Outside The Box
For businesses big and small, huge product announcements are not the only purposes of a press release. Think out of the box, analyse your business from top-to-bottom and ask yourself – What are we doing that is truly remarkable? Not every story has to be apt for Forbes, but it can be enough to keep your loyal followers intrigued and fascinated.
For starters, here are a few ideas to kickstart conversations and leverage your company as a thought leader –
- Use new-age content formats and creativity to your advantage
- Instead of emailing journalists telling them the leaders of your brands are experts on a given topic, have them publish a blog on the topic first and then pitch, so they know their take is relevant.
- Map the sentiments towards the brand via discussions happening on social media and weighing it with your brand’s ideas and thoughts.
Create Content that Counts
We often forget that journalists are humans, and 99.9% humans prefer quirky, interesting, and dynamic content over the usual ‘who, what, where, when, why’ – which is often bland. When drafting a release, feel free to focus on what is unique, different and narrative-driven rather than stick to the set traditional template.
The Role of PR in Marketing
Ideating your own content through a website blog is not only a great way to build identity, but also drive traffic. A great alternative to traditional pitching is to craft high-quality guest posts for industry blogs in your space.
Search engines value quality over quantity as well now, so invest the time and energy to develop thoughtful guest posts for consideration on blogs in your space. This will result in the benefits of SEO as well as potential media coverage.
In terms of ROI, utilising cost-per-click data to estimate the equivalent advertising value is a key factor. No matter where you choose to put your marketing efforts, your CPC efforts will have a large impact on how much you spend on those efforts. Evaluating this data can give you an accurate estimate of how your organic PR is performing. If you are receiving a click-through organic search as opposed to advertising, then you can conclude this click can be attributed to your PR efforts.
Marketing Meets Journalism
In the volatile and viral world of social media today, time is scarce when it comes to journalism, which is why it is essential to help journalists operate at a lightning-fast speed by ensuring they have access to all information at their fingertips at the right time.
Decoding About Us Page
A lot of people write their ‘About Us’ pages with ambiguous language. Make sure the description of your brand is crystal clear to the journalists. It is important to invest time and effort in perfecting such sections of your website.
Adding Social Sharing Icons
Embedding Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn sharing icons on your press page and each press release will help ignite social media discussions about conversations you wish to drive.
Offering Helpful Industry Data
Offering industry data and information that relates to topics journalists might be interested in helps you stand out and catch their attention since it provides a context to the release. This increases the likelihood of your brand sticking in their memory.
Building Relationships With Media
The first and foremost step towards building and maintaining relationships with the media is to respect them and their job. A journalist’s job is not to promote your product/service/idea. It is to tell an intriguing story or capture fascinating news that is relevant to their outlet. By respecting their role and craft, not only will you drive better results for yourself, but also hone long-lasting and fruitful relationships.
The next step towards building a list of media relations is to do your basic homework. Collating the journalist’s information such as links to recent coverage, context from his/her twitter bio, social media handles, and contact information is a good starting point.
You can even leverage social media to facilitate seamless communication with your media friends and find out what keeps them engaged on a daily basis, and use this information to ideate future content considerations. For example, If you see reporters constantly discussing a particular industry occurrence, consider creating a blog post directed at it and send them the link instead of waiting for them to reach out to you.
Lastly, media communication should be a two-way street. Find ways to add value to your reporter’s daily lives as well. You can share and promote their content even when it’s not related to you, offer genuine and honest feedback/inputs, or even potentially provide them opportunities to explore your business, your approach, or meet with your team.
It is important to understand how technological innovations and automation have transformed the media industry. These concepts must be embraced to elevate your PR strategies – such as a systematic focus on Inbound PR or the synergy between PR and marketing. As you familiarise yourself with these concepts, the key is to integrate them with the traditional role and responsibilities of journalists and not discount the importance of fruitful and genuine interaction in the process.