This post first appeared on PR Daily in September, 2015. Whether it’s media relations, brand journalism or managing corporate communications, content has always played an essential part of effective PR efforts.
However, PR pros that don’t sharpen their skills for content strategy, development and measurement are quickly left behind as the future of digital PR evolves.
Major changes in digital marketing and PR have revealed how social technologies, devices and ubiquitous Internet access have opened the doors for round-the-clock connectivity to everything on the Web.
That connectivity enables consumers and brand managers to create, consume, publish, interact and transact anywhere, at anytime. From tablets to smartphones to getting digital content via your car, the relationship between technology and people has had a major impact on how information is discovered, shared and acted upon.
These changes in behaviors and technology represent challenges, but also these three opportunities for the public relations industry:
1. Who are “the media?”
It’s no secret that news media publishing models have experienced dramatic changes in the past five years, with strong shifts to digital to meet consumer demand of real-time news and information on any device.
People now have the ability to develop presences on social media and publish information audiences that can match or exceed a traditional publication’s. This means that influence is no longer limited to industry publications and members of the news media.
Connecting with and creating value with many niche influencers, whether they’re journalists covering a specific beat or a passionate bloggers with engaged communities, can be as impactful as mainstream publication hits.
Content is the currency for building social relationships that can boost earned media.
2. Brands are now publishers.
Organizations are increasingly leveraging content marketing to boost owned media as well as their effectiveness in securing earned media.
Many are hiring editors, corporate journalists and editorial staff to create a publishing environment not unlike many publications.
If you want to ensure your brand gets in the media, then become the media.
3. Emerging technology is affecting consumer behavior.
Consumers being connected to the Web all the time and the normalcy of sharing on social media has allowed mainstream media outlets to tap into their own audiences to capture and report news.
Consumers are audiences, but the constant connectivity has also turned them into publishers. Expectations have changed, and many expect not only to be informed but also to participate with the news.
So, what do these changes mean for public relations professionals? Here are three ways you can take advantage of current trends:
PR, marketing, customer service and other disciplines are increasingly integrated. PR pros must cross train for skills and learn to collaborate with others, tapping into an organization’s resources in order to reach mutual objectives.
Doing so can help PR pros show more value for their efforts.
2. Become the media.
Brands are adopting publishing models in their efforts to establish better connections with customers and to achieve a competitive advantage.
PR pros must consider their abilities to leverage earned media as well paid, earned and shared media. Realize that you’re no longer a content gatekeeper, but rather a creator and participant in a content ecosystem.
PR pros can establish credibility with members of the news media, bloggers and others with large social media followings when they draw from their own media-property wells.
Media relations can be a tough game. Journalists and bloggers are bombarded with pitches, and it’s difficult to stand out, let alone get in the door. When the end objective is exposure, awareness and influence, don’t only rely on earned media. Instead, become the media.
Companies are investing significantly in brand journalism. Content hubs and Web presences satisfy consumers’ desire for information and allow brand managers to both educate and persuade through content. Companies ranging from American Express to General Mills are so successful at this, they are able to monetize their editorial content with outside advertisers and syndication.
3. Adapt and optimize.
Technology and consumer behaviors are evolving quickly, and the ability for businesses to attract, engage and persuade their publics requires strong adaptability and a continuous effort to optimizing PR efforts.
Monitor consumer and technology trends, and develop a cycle that flows through your objective, audience, approach, tactics, measurement and refinement.
When a competitor launches a new product and gets major media coverage, brand managers might decide to parody it or provide a counter point, promoting it through social channels as it gains momentum.
Knowing people will look for more information than what’s covered in the initial story, content about the story can be optimized for search to make it the best answer and easiest for people to find.
There are many opportunities for organizations that create a substantial amount of content. You can repurpose it for specific vertical publications or tailor it for publishing through email, social networks, blogs and guest articles.
Repurposing content may also serve to extend the value of resources and gain additional reach without a corresponding increase in created content.
I challenge public relations professionals to look beyond the simplicity of earned media. Consider how integrating content marketing with PR can empower your efforts and have a more significant impact on your organization’s bottom line.
Content marketing can help PR pros create more owned assets, which can attract, engage and inspire earned and shared media. Those same assets can work with paid media to gain additional customers, as well.