Over the past 5 years or so there has been a lot of talk about the digital age. What first started out as the internet has now evolved into something much bigger, Web 2.0, and it is changing the way PR practitioners work. In fact, 82% of practitioners stated that social media has changed the way in which they work.
According to the CIPR, public relations is what you say and what others say about you and thanks to the creation of the likes of social media and blogs, both agency and in house practitioners have had to change the way in which they ‘say’ things. This is not only to their target audience, but to the media as well.
This is because now, as opposed to the previous linear form of communications, public’s can now ‘speak back’ and engage directly with the message. Organisations no longer need to wait for their stories to be released by newspapers via press releases. Instead, they can publish their information worldwide, instantly through social media. This has led to the incorporation of digital media into everything from press releases to crisis management to events as it is arguably the cheapest and quickest way to communicate.
Although media powerhouses such as The Guardian and BBC News can still influence through traditional articles and stories, they are no longer the only form of influencers and organisations need to take note of that. As opposed to targeting a 250 contact media list which consists of journalists from large press organisations, practitioners should now be looking to target more specific influencers who have niche, highly segmented audience. Social platforms such as YouTube and Instagram has allowed ordinary people to get their voice heard and become influencers overnight such as Zoella who’s made millions from filming YouTube videos and smaller up and coming bloggers. It is these people that practitioners now have to create relationships with and address.
Another way in which the PR industry has had to adapt to digital change is through the convergence of owned media such as your social media pages and your website, in addition to paid media such as advertisements in order to create earned media. This could be shares and RT’s from content you’ve created or articles in magazines that you haven’t sent out via a press release and is proven to be much more effective. In fact, a recent study by KLOUT has shown that 92% of people trust earned media more than any type of advertising which is why more and more practitioners are making the transition from focusing less on the approval of glossy magazines and more on your everyday Twitter user…
Despite bloggers being branded ‘normal people’ they are still business people and have the ability to say no to featuring your products/services in their articles. Which is why digital media has also changed PR vocab. Long gone are the days of corporate speak, instead, practioners should put focus on the person they’re targeting as opposed to the brand they work for. Talking about experiences, likes and dislikes are all perfect ways to do this because after all these are ‘normal people’ and their blog is a creative space where they choose what to feature, not corporate journalists who are under tight deadlines to gather content.
Creative content marketing
…Which leads us to content. In order for information to be worthy of going viral the content has to stand out and be creative. One way to do this is through visual storytelling (you can see my top 5 tips to use this here.) It is no longer enough for an organisation to be tweeting and promoting their company through corporate speak. They must also create valuable content that isn’t about their products or services that their consumers will want to engage in.
Another creative way to use imagery is through the inclusion of UGC; content created by consumers which organisations can then use. UGC creates a more personalised relationship as there is more emphasis on the consumer as opposed to the product. You can check out some great examples of UGC campaigns here.
The press release was once the epitome of public relations in regards to getting your stories read and heard. However, it is no longer the only way to send out new information, especially in the case of in house PR. An event or a product launch coming up? More innovative ideas such as a video or a stunt can be a much more effective way to broadcast a message. Or even better share your news through the use of a company blog…free and easy and you don’t have to rely on anyone else to gain coverage! If you were to use a press release the standard ‘text only’ copy is old news. Journalists want visual content to support this such as images and video’s to support what you’re saying.