As 2014 draws to a close, it’s a good time to take a step back and think about how much our industry has changed over the last few years. PR has been particularly impacted by our accelerating shift to a digital, mobile, and connected culture. Let’s take a look at just some of the ways that the practice of PR has evolved to keep up.
The Rising Importance of Influencers
Journalists who work for publications continue to be an important source of earned media for brands, but the number of others who have the ear of your audience has ballooned in recent years. These influencers may be bloggers, analysts, industry experts, or others who are trusted by potential buyers in a particular industry or market segment. These are the people who can help spread your message and give it credibility. Modern PR professionals and agencies cannot neglect influencer relationships.
The Expanding Social Landscape
Influencers have become more important largely because of the power of social networks to bring people together and distribute ideas. While traditional media is still influential, today’s PR professionals must have a sound social media strategy. This requires insight into the networks that your audience prefers, the topics that get their interest, and trends in participant behavior. Social media has created the space for the public to have conversations about products and brands. This is both an opportunity and a risk, as social media and reputation management go hand in hand.
The Reign of Content
Marketers and PR professionals alike have seized onto the power of compelling content to attract prospects, accelerate the buying cycle, create deeper relationships with their audience, and feed the social engine. Modern PR professionals and agencies draft more than just press releases. They produce blogs, eBooks, infographics, videos, slide presentations, case studies and more. This content is used for catching the interest of influencers and media contacts, in addition to prospects and customers. In fact, it is not uncommon for one story to be created in many forms to match the preferences of the entire target audience.
The SEO Shift
There once was a time when PR pros didn’t think about search engine optimization at all. Then we all went a little crazy when we discovered that press releases could be written exclusively to drive up search rankings. Google caught on to that little trick and we’ve calmed down a bit. SEO continues to be an important goal of PR, but today, it is achieved with quality, relevant content and earned back links from domains that have authority.
New Impact Measurements
Business managers, in general, are becoming more accustomed to having real-time, accurate data to drive decisions. This is true in PR as well. Leaders want specific success metrics and a provable ROI. The old, “Ad value equivalency,” measurement has fallen out of favor, it is being replaced by outcome measurements such as, website traffic, leads, social engagement, search rankings, reputation and revenue. PR professionals and agencies are increasingly turning to pr technology that goes beyond traditional media monitoring to analyze large volumes of data to determine the true impact of PR efforts and spend.
Although keeping up with the changing PR environment is a challenge, an enormous amount of opportunity has opened up for brands and the public to connect. We are in a better position than ever to share our message and reach our audience in stimulating, diverse, and effective ways. If the last five years are any indication, the next five will be exciting indeed.