Ok. I admit it. Public Relations is not what it used to be. What used to be a news release and a strategically placed media pitch to garner a magazine article, newspaper coverage, a spot on the 6 o’clock news or radio time appears to have given way to an internet-induced cloud of online branding.
Skimming a newspaper over a cup of coffee is no longer the norm. We scan Twitter and Facebook feeds as soon as we roll out of bed for the latest headlines and breaking news. With all of this change, it would be easy to assume that Public Relations has become a strategy of the past, but that is simply incorrect.
PR is evolving and reinventing itself along with the social media age, amassing even more opportunities for engaging target audiences. Here’s how:
THE TRADITIONAL IS ALIVE AND KICKING
Yes, Internet is king, but traditional methods of public and media relations still get results. Coverage through newspaper or a spot on the local nightly news still provides visibility, reaching audiences that continue to rely on traditional media to get information.
PR was and always will be about content development and management. BUT the key to effective public relations in today’s environment is mixing traditional methods with current trends, creating content that’s usable, promotable and — this is key, shareable — on multiple platforms.
STORYTELLING OR BRAND JOURNALISM
Effective PR creates a positive image of a company and connects with consumers to develop a relationship between the company and the customer.
Your brand should be able to create a conversation with customers. Not only should a logo or company name be recognizable, but it should also stand for something. Prevalent among many forward-thinking companies, brand journalism is telling a story related to your brand’s expertise. This method is extremely valuable, as the audience is engaged and therefore interested in learning more about the brand.
SEARCHABLE ONLINE PRESENCE
These days when we want more information on a subject, chances are we Google it. Instantly, multiple sources on a given topic are at our fingertips. But what good is it if it’s not organized, reliable and up-to-date?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the secret behind successful websites. The frequency of publishing blogs, news releases, updates on media coverage and executive interviews can all work together to get your name and key search words to show up higher on the screen of the searcher.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO ITS FULLEST EXTENT
Do you remember when MySpace launched in 2003? Six years later, Facebook replaced it as the most used social media network in the world. Social media has only been around for a decade, but its influence is undeniable.
If a company wants to utilize social media, it must do so with complete dedication. This isn’t just about “likes” and “follows.” Not only should your social media be active, but it also needs to be relevant. Interactive, fresh content creates buzz that keeps consumers interested. Public relations not only creates the content, but also monitors the content that’s published, staying focused on the customer.
VISUAL MEDIA AND MARKETING
What used to be a “nice-to-have” are now “important-to-have” to grab consumer attention. Visual media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Vine are becoming more and more the norm to tell a story. However, as sexy as these elements may be, they should always be supported by an appropriate sales and marketing strategy in order to be effective.
Traditional PR is rearing its head again. No longer is there just one editor for a given category or medium — e.g., the “business editor” has been segmented into small business, new business, industrial, international, you get the gist. Social networking, AKA media relations, still calls for relationship building. Whether traditional or social media, building relationships with targeted niche influencers is necessary to effectively grow brand recognition.
No, Public Relations is not what it was. It’s better. It goes beyond just gaining coverage to creating a reputation through media relations, marketing, advertising, journalism and online understanding. It’s almost a science that can be put to work for you.