Part 1: The Demise of the Middleman
Public Relations (PR) – as we once knew it – is barely recognizable today. PR professionals have more power than ever before, interacting directly with the people they have always tried so desperately to reach. This is a significant role reversal for those who have been in the field for decades. Their transformation didn’t happen overnight, though; it is the result of nearly 15 years of effort and the growing popularity of a little thing called social media.
A Lonely, One-Way Street
Traditional PR was a somewhat passive activity back in the day. Large PR firms would construct carefully-worded statements for their corporate clients. These remarks, otherwise known as press releases, would comment on some type of major event – good or bad – diplomatically, as the public face of the organization. Then, the firm would sit back, toss their content into the wind, and wait.
And wait some more.
If a reporter, journalist, or publisher didn’t think that the press release was newsworthy, they wouldn’t publish it. A good relationship with an editor, reporter or an influential person could help, but all that hard work was invariably at the mercy of the news cycle.
The Era of Two-Way Engagement
Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media networks have changed the way most of the world communicates. Every platform has a unique purpose, but they all have one thing in common: They connect.
This ability to interact with customers, one-to-one, has revolutionized the PR model. Companies can send messages to customers, and customers can respond - all without the blessing of a reporter or other middleman. When a PR professional creates content now, it can go wherever they want it to go, and it can reach those precious customers and potential customers with amazing efficiency.
Social media has altered:
- Who companies can “touch.” With no barriers, messages can go anywhere almost instantly. Instead of targeting a small subset of your audience in a business journal or blog, you can now target every group that is critical to business operations – from potential recruits and current customers to shareholders and influencers.
- When and where communication can take place. Today’s news cycle never sleeps. In fact, many PR professionals have found success in communicating with customers during off-hours that were once taboo, like 11 PM to 2 AM. Any time is a good time if your audience is consuming information. It doesn’t matter if they are at work, eating dinner, or getting ready for bed.
- What PR can do. One of the greatest impacts of social media is that it is completely normal to engage customers (and reporters) informally and often. Companies don’t have to wait for a major event to craft an official statement; they can embrace the personality of their brand daily by joking with customers, engaging directly with the media, or providing advice as long as they have the resources to monitor their social chatter.
- Why PR is effective. Technology has its benefits. With data and analytics at your fingertips, you can continuously evaluate the efficacy of your messaging – which is a huge advantage, especially when it comes to building meaningful relationships with your audience. You can easily (and economically) edit and tweak posts until you get the level of engagement you desire.
- How PR integrates with Marketing. It has become impossible to tell where social media marketing ends and PR begins. Because of this, the two must work hand-in-hand to maintain an online presence that is consistent and reinforces key messaging. This means that the PR firms of old are a dying breed; instead, we see PR integrated within marketing offerings as yet another tool in the marketing toolbox.
Public Relations 2.0
Your father probably wouldn’t recognize what PR has become in the 21st century – and that’s a good thing. Thanks to social media, PR professionals can now hold hands with their marketing counterparts, control where their content goes, and talk to customers and even the media like they are talking to their best friends.
There is no doubt that PR is having a renaissance right now. What are you doing to take advantage of it?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Not Your Father’s PR series for tips on how to utilize today’s PR to your company’s advantage.
Conveyance Marketing Group is a team of bright, innovative and talented veteran marketers dedicated to big ideas, fresh insights and measurable results. We pride ourselves on taking challenging marketing issues and turning them into opportunities for our clients, on pointing brands in the right direction, and on getting our customers noticed both online and off. From branding to websites to digital marketing, and public relations, we handle all your marketing communication needs! Web Design and Development | Brand Strategy | Inbound Marketing | Social Media | SEO | PR