Public relations doesn’t operate as it once did.
Companies are trading boring news releases in traditional newspapers for educational articles in online publications. Audiences value authenticity over promotion, and they now see more content in a day than they could read in a year.
It falls to PR pros to convince consumers that their content is worth consuming, and now PR departments are turning to marketing techniques for answers.
A recent study from The Holmes Report details how this partnership has evolved and what companies should do to navigate the changing landscape.
The future of PR
According to the report, almost 90 percent of PR executives believe the term “public relations” will not accurately characterize the job they will be doing in 5 years’ time.
With change coming so quickly, what will modern PR look like—and how can companies prepare to meet evolving audience needs?
This same study also found that 47 percent of PR professionals and 61 percent of marketers believe PR will “become more closely aligned” with marketing over the same period.
These trends don’t mean marketing will absorb PR, or that it will disappear; they simply suggest that PR professionals must re-evaluate how they engage audiences and boost brand image.
They can do this by starting with the narratives they share and the tactics they use to do it.
Why change now?
Audience demand for authenticity is changing everything. In an online world overflowing with content, audiences are now adept at recognizing material which doesn’t serve them.
Journalists, editors and other media professionals have honed this skill to match their audience’s demands. Many media contacts who published press releases (or promotional articles based on them) in the past no longer want to do so—because their audience does not want to read them.
The demand for true value and authenticity has also contributed to the rise in content marketing. The audience wants a relationship with brands they trust and whose values align with theirs.
Content is a powerful tool for building those relationships—and as marketing and PR begin to align, modern PR tactics will need to work alongside classic content marketing techniques to create the kind of material helpful to your brand and your audience.
How PR and marketing can work together
Just throwing PR and marketing teams into a room together is not the solution and will probably lead to more arguments about the Oxford comma than meaningful results.
These teams should work together—not just next to one another. They share similar goals of building the brand and engaging audiences, and their complementary skills allow them to collaborate on rich, engaging content that drives results.
Here are two things to remember as you prepare to merge your marketing and PR teams into one powerhouse department:
1. Adopt a value-driven content strategy.
Content marketing is an effective, easily scalable and measurable strategy for reaching audiences and providing value to them.
Consumers today do not trust brands which stay in the shadows, keeping their insights and ideas to themselves, therefore content marketers must focus on creating strong, high-quality content.
PR pros can then take that content further by getting it in front of the audiences of niche publications and establishing company leaders as industry experts. PR reaches new audiences and builds company credibility through third-party validation, while content marketing keeps those audiences engaged with the brand through consistent content.
2. Rely on relational—not transactional—tactics.
This value-driven approach means PR professionals do not need to pitch promotional press releases to media outlets to put their brands in the spotlight.
Instead, PR pros should identify the niche influencers, journalists, publication editors, thought leaders, reporters and online contributors who speak to their target audiences—and then form relationships with them.
This alignment of public relations and marketing will not happen overnight, but change is already underway. By putting audiences first and cultivating valuable relationships with the right media contacts, PR pros and marketers can create dream teams that are greater than the sum of their parts.
Jessica Canfield is the director of public relations at Influence & Co., a content marketing firm that specializes in helping companies showcase their expertise through thought leadership. A version of this article first appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.