What has changed in PR?
Once upon a time, PR for business used to be simply about gaining coverage in the local and national press. There’s no doubt that developing a credible and consistent profile for your brand is as important as ever. Or that gaining positive recognition within industry media channels is both highly valuable and highly desirable. Today, many businesses continue to undertake their own PR activities, or buy in PR support to help boost their profile. In a recent LinkedIn survey 18% of companies stated that they will continue to do so in the year ahead.
The explosion of the internet and, more recently, social media, means that truly effective PR is a very different thing from gaining a few column inches. Yet many business-owners still equate PR with the old approach of getting coverage in their favourite industry newspaper or magazine. Changes in technology have broadened the potential of PR for business – leaving many people with some outdated and potentially costly myths about business PR:
Three of the top myths on PR for business:
Myth 1:“PR is only for big businesses because it’s very costly.”
Changes in technology mean that PR can provide benefits for both small and large companies, whatever the industry or sector.
Myth 2: “PR is simply about sending out press releases and getting featured in newspapers and magazines.”
Content is still an essential part of an effective PR campaign. But the era of the press release-only approach in creating effective media coverage is long gone.
Myth 3: “Good PR is simply about being seen in the most popular publications.”
Good PR is, like every other aspect of your marketing approach, about results. Rather than relying on being seen in the most well known industry publications, effective PR focuses on what you want to achieve. So you can ensure that your media coverage brings you long-term results, rather than just a one-off result.
Why businesses can’t afford to ignore the changes to PR
On its own, traditional PR lacks the potential to deliver the goods for business. Here are just five reasons why businesses need to look differently at PR.
Using the traditional PR approach alone:
- Gives you little or no potential to track your impact and the number of leads created
- Provides only a limited or one-off impact
- Could potentially mean you miss out on coverage via many other media channels
- Relies on high impact from one story – instead of creating a long-term strategy that builds a credible media profile for your business
- Means you’re relying more on the luck of the draw rather than on a strategic approach. Knowing which publications your story is in is just one aspect – you need to know which press releases and publications actually generate visitors, leads and customers
How to make PR work for your business
The traditional approach to PR is changing fast in many businesses. This is because they are starting to embrace a more flexible, results-driven strategy to help get them noticed. Here’s how:
1. Embrace the online revolution
Social media and the internet have created a huge range of communities, online trade forums and other opportunities to share your story – and see it shared by others. There are ready-made audiences for your story out there. All you need to do is carefully target public relations towards them. That’s not to say that you can’t use offline PR opportunities, but they need to be used strategically. Online communities and portals also give you easier ways to measure the impact of your story. You can use inbound marketing technology to monitor which press release and publications deliver the highest level of web traffic or even phone calls, with a good call tracking service. Then you can monitor the response to your PR right down to individual new web visitors and leads.
2. Think long-term, not one-off
When you’re looking at promoting a new venture or celebrating a recent success it’s very easy to think short-term. But this creates very limited results. If your ultimate purpose is to raise your company’s profile, why stop short when there is so much potential to do more? But you need to plan ahead to gain real long-term results with PR. Link your PR with inbound marketing technology to gain a clear understanding of your audience and how to reach them online. Then use this is the basis for your overall strategy and your content plan.
3. Get face to face with your prospect
Combining your PR approach with inbound marketing technology allows you to get right in front of your potential customer, in the online forums that they feel most comfortable with. Doing this allows you to reach your target audience in their favourite publications. But you’ll also be encouraging word of mouth marketing through review sites, social media and industry forums and blogs - all with the ultimate aim of driving traffic to your website and converting that traffic into leads and customers.
4. Yes, your content is still king
Some things never change. Your content is still king. In fact it’s more important than ever in an effective PR approach. Focus on creating high quality content as an asset that could potentially be picked up and shared - or made viral. This is about much more than a good one-off business story. It is about building on online reputation as an expert and an industry leader. Being online gives you much more potential for positive coverage of your business.
There’s no doubt that a traditional PR approach can provide business benefits. But by updating your PR strategy to combine inbound marketing technology and make the most of the internet and social media, you could seriously upgrade your company’s reputation and results.
What’s your PR approach for the future? Please share your thoughts on the comment box below.