Traditional public relations was perhaps much easier than digital PR in the modern age. PR specialists wrote press releases, made connections and fought for placement in prestigious publications for their clients. However, with the growth of content marketing and online consumption, the face of public relations changed forever.
Rather than just seeking placement alongside other content – like in the case of television and newspaper ads – brands and their PR specialists must now make their own content and market it to the public.
Content is King
The phrase “content is king” has reverberated through both public relations and marketing for some time now. As consumers increasingly give up newspapers and cable TV, brands turn to making their own content to attract their target market.
This means putting out content and telling stories consumers actually want to see and hear, without blatantly blasting them with features, specifications, pricing and appeals to buy.
Consumers are no longer interested in getting information from press releases and other formal announcements. Why should they when they can turn to social media to get that same scoop instead, and in a story format?
As a result, digital public relations emerged – forcing brands and their PR experts to take their business online. Whether through interactive websites or fun personalities representing their social media pages, brands try to make communication more fun and appealing.
This switch to content marketing compelled public relations to integrate marketing and human resources activities into the practice. As a result, PR specialists are now involved in training executives, working on television ads, writing content to submit on major websites and communicating with fans on social media.
Even the president – and presidential candidates – need an active social media presence and an impressive following.
Technology also continually changes the face of public relations. A company could build a presence on one social media platform, only to have it lose popularity and then need to build that presence elsewhere. For instance, MySpace has become a dinosaur of social media, thanks to Facebook. And Facebook now faces serious competition from Snapchat and Twitter.
As new platforms emerge, practitioners must learn how to adapt their content to work best with different outlets. For instance, 1000-word editorials are not for Instagram and LinkedIn is not the best outlet for casual selfies team members may have taken with their favorite clients.
In the past, many brands tried to get top celebrities to participate in ads or endorse their products to give them a boost. However, increasingly, consumers turn to bloggers and other influencers in certain niches for their information or entertainment.
In comparison to celebrity endorsers, influencers are easier to find and less expensive to work with. They also tend to have a stronger engagement rate since they have better relationships with their 200,000 fans than celebrities have with their millions. As a result, brands like Subaru use them to connect with their fan base, bringing them great success.
The strength of public relations lies in its ability to adapt and change. For this reason, there is no telling what PR may look like ten years from now, or even what it might look like tomorrow.