How PR is changing: an evolving industry

Written by Mel Hill


PR is changing

PR is changing all of the time, which is evident over the huge developing trends we’ve seen in recent years. Writing a press release and pitching it to journalists – once the core activity of the PR agency – just isn’t enough anymore.

The ability to find the ‘hook’ and craft a good story will always remain at the heart of every PR practitioner worth their salt. But where, and how, the story is placed has changed massively.

The digital revolution means it can never just be about the words. PR agencies now focus on creating content which will work on many different platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as the traditional, printed press.

They have to be savvy in how they do it too. GIFs, high quality images, videos and infographics all bring online content to life and help to make it stand out from crowded page feeds.

This means that PR agencies are increasingly producing material that attracts and engages directly with consumers, rather than solely relying on newspapers and magazines to pass the message on for them.

This approach is frequently called content marketing but to us, it’s just an extension of PR and another channel through which to reach audiences. After all, we’re experts at creating compelling content that is fresh, timely, relevant and newsworthy, and engages with target audiences. It’s our job to create great stories and we are already in constant contact with the journalists and influencers who are covering your industry.

Content marketing is simply another marketing approach to get your content out there which bypasses the media, it’s a shortcut to engaging directly with the consumer.

According to Demand Metric content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.

In practice that means online material, including social media posts, blogs and videos, that does not use an overtly ‘sales’ type approach. Rather, it focuses on sharing help and advice about a service or issue. The tone is not biased towards a particular product. It’s about education without resorting to the big, direct sell, so that people trust you and want to do business with you. Just like editorial really.

PR is changing for consultants too as their treasured contact books are getting thicker! Alongside the names, numbers and emails of well-placed journalists are contact details for online influencers – bloggers or social media influencers with huge numbers of followers who can make, or damage, a brand in a single post. So, engaging with influencers is another important strand of effective content marketing.

The way journalists work has also changed. Newspapers, especially local and regional press, continue to face considerable challenges through falling reader numbers and job losses.

More people now want to read their news on their tablet or smart phone rather than in a printed newspaper. As a result, the days of the ‘roving reporter’ are quickly diminishing as journalists find themselves without the time to go out of the office to chase the story or meet with PR agencies and their clients face to face. As newspapers fight for survival in these changing times journalists are also under pressure to create online content that people want to share.

Successful PR agencies understand the challenges today’s journalists face and keep them in mind when creating content and pitching it to them.

As the industry landscape evolves so will the role of PR agencies. Most already offer a variety of services such as content creation, crisis communications, reputational management, corporate communications, internal communications, social media, brand strategy, design, digital marketing and much more. In the coming years these offerings are likely to expand further to ensure clients benefit from the latest developments online.

The future for PR agencies that continue to adapt with the digital world is strong because they are able to offer expertise in navigating the plethora of media platforms available and advise on the most suitable strategy for their clients’ specific needs.

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