The practice of public relations means something different in today’s landscape than it did in the past. Many factors have ushered in this change, including the continued closures and constrictions in the traditional media landscape, the rise of bloggers/influencers, and the preeminence of social media. Succeeding in the public relations field means staying on top of the changes that are affecting the entire industry. Here are four major trends to keep in mind:
#1: Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management has become increasingly critical since everyone is just a click away from talking about your brand online. It is very important to stay on top what is said about you and your business in the digital space so you can act quickly to remedy any negative coverage, while taking advantage of the positive.
The Internet is a large space, and monitoring conversations around your brand can seem quite overwhelming. A great way to manage your company’s reputation is by setting up Google Alerts. They’re free, and will alert you when there are online mentions of your company. Setting up Google Alerts is an easy way to keep tabs on public sentiment and make sure you are always aware of many (but not all) consumer opinions. You can also manage your online reputation by posting relevant, positive content about your brand on a regular basis – this will push negative coverage lower in search results.
While not traditionally considered the province of public relations, reviews of your business acquired on your Facebook page, your Google profile, or your Yelp profile (among others), also affect your reputation. Ensure you have a staff member assigned to monitor reviews on sites like these, and have a plan in place to respond.
If you don’t feel like you can manage your online reputation on your own and/or need a more in-depth solution, consider hiring an agency to help you manage your company’s (and often also executive staff’s) reputation.
#2: Press Releases Are Changing
The age of the dry, text-heavy press release is over! Today’s press releases are becoming more visual in nature to tell a more complete story. Modern readers prefer highly integrated stories consisting of images and videos in addition to traditional text. Providing those additional details up front makes it easier for a journalist to transform your press release into a story.
#3: Connecting with Journalists on Social Media
The way public relations professionals maintain relationships with the media has changed completely. Where previously a phone call or even an in person visit was expected, it is now considered normal to reach out to reporters on social media. In addition, reviewing journalists social media posts often offers deeper insight into their interests beyond what you might learn from reading their recent coverage, alone. Social media is not the ONLY way you conduct media research and outreach, but it’s now advisable to include social media in your relationship-building toolkit. The trend towards engaging on social is a representation of the bigger communications trend away from face-to-face communications and towards online conversation. The media (like the rest of society) are so busy in today’s fast paced world that it is easier for them to process and respond to PR people over the Internet.
If the journalist is a new relationship to you and time allows, it’s a good idea to build rapport on social media before diving into any sort of pitch. For example, share their tweets and send a direct message with a note about an article of theirs you particularly enjoyed. Show that you’re paying attention and enjoying their content, and they’ll be more likely to feature you or your organization in the future.
Although reaching out on social media is becoming the norm, it’s still a good idea to call reporters or set up in person appointments from time to time. The personal touch is unexpected in today’s digital world and will help you stand out!
#4: Thought Leadership as a PR Priority
Media opportunities are influenced by a brand’s perceived thought leadership, which is broadly defined as authoritative, sought-after specialization in a particular field. In some cases, thought leadership comes through business success – being “known” as a leader in your field. However, a thought leadership position can also be gained through regularly publishing valuable, educational, and engaging content. Offering thought leadership content can include posting to your company’s own blog, publishing content through your personal LInkedIn profile, getting a bylined article published in an industry publication, and speaking at conferences – just to name a few.
Many publications are short-staffed right now and rely on content created by freelance writers. These publications may have opportunities for you to become a contributor and write a bylined article that they will publish. This is a great way to get your ideas out there while positioning yourself as an expert in your field. Speaking engagements achieve similar goals, but take it one step further. The relationship built is richer because it is in person and not solely online.
Prioritizing these trends will help build a public relations strategy that is current, thoughtful and resonant, helping you and your organization stand out amongst the crowd to reporters and publications.