Understanding Public Relations Now and Then – The Digital Shift
Since change is regarded as the flavour of life, like every form of Marketing, PR has seen a drastic change over the years. From being restricted to the print media, and working with journalists, modern PR practices have evolved to being entirely different to what they used to be a couple of decades ago. With every company having an online presence and with customer engagement growing with every passing day, new forms of community outreach programs have started to come in vogue. Bloggers, Influencers and Social Media Managers have taken the role of Journalists in the modern area of Public Relations. It’s a dramatic shift and it has all spiraled due to social media giving people a platform. Public relations was always considered pure newsworthy content creation, making yourself relevant by applying your business to a topical subject and making news happen from a brand perspective.
Traditional PR people who have only worked with press departments find the new concept of new age Digital PR done over the internet and social media to be funny. Blogging and contacting influencers seems odd to them. Some do not even recognise this as PR. Maybe through stubbornness, negligence, acceptance or vision.
However, the tech-savvy PR professional or ones who know about the internet industry understand the importance attached to both word of mouth publicity and social media marketing. The digital-savvy journalists today know very well about the art and importance of sending out real-time information via Tweets live from an important Press Conference.
Driving tangible traffic to a direct link with a purpose-built landing page and optimized website is far more revealing for the impact of return on investment of a campaign using website tracking software to give detailed insights. This in comparison to the guesswork of print information and suggesting to go somewhere which there is no link back to. Only forcing assumptions based on different patterns which can be connected through benefit of the doubt.
It is an adapt to survive ultimatum. The readership of the traditional press is plummeting as online take precedence. For the older audience, and in specific situations and niche demographics, physical publications are still bought, read and digested. But it is few and far between and the viral potential of social has flipped the creative potential to this. Which is logical. Go where the attention is. And where there is less work and money to be spent to reach the most volume. It is essentially a matter of natural transition and basic technology advances. Revolutions happen in news consumption. Different platforms change the scope. And we are always looking for convenience. There was one day a sudden emergence of the tabloid press but before we were not used to this style of outreach.
No longer do you need journalists, the power has shifted to brands because the journalists need you. That’s where the development of sites such as Help a reporter out have developed. And the ones who see it, will get access to the best content and story potential. No longer do brands need to hijack the news, they can be the news and have the attention follow them rather than outwardly looking for it. You tube, Facebook, Twitter, the movement is unstoppable and Public relations has never been more direct and immediate.
In the past press, radio, and TV were the main sources of information dissemination. These were the only mediums that could deliver a message and left the PR guys unaware of the results of these messages unless the campaign was highly successful. Today, digital PR not only helps in creating a two-way communication flow where the marketers get to determine the aspirations of the audiences and shape their messages and products accordingly. Also, modern day PR channels like blogs, social media, and general online promotional campaigns give the PR professionals an exact picture of the effect of their PR activities.
They can add spice to the flavour as and when required. Even, the content of the messages in today’s PR campaigns has changed. It no more focuses on the brand and its spokesperson, but rather is determined to be giving something of value to the customer. Brands have stopped talking about themselves and how they are the “best” as there are 100s other saying the same thing. Content is the King in this age of information, whosoever has the best content will attract a greater number of audiences. Content endorsement by social media influencers is pivotal in gearing you up for success against your competitors in modern day digital PR. When others talk about you regularly, you reap the benefits of such positive mentions. This has made influencers very powerful in determining the growth of brands.
Depending on a Press Note for PR is no longer the only PR strategy, brands are writing blogs and encouraging other influential bloggers to review their products. Using a more visually interactive and attractive message helps the cause of the brands better and the more liked content, the more viral is the PR campaign. With Social Media being a very influential means of communication today, a brand cannot just shy away from these platforms. Brands continuously need to create engaging content that starts conversations between them and the audience.