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5 Top Trends Impacting Public Relations

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The public relations strand of marketing and communications has been challenging at best. So what is public relations, and do we still need it?

Public Relations is the practice of managing the information that is shared publicly. How a message is crafted and what it reveals. Call it ‘spin’ as that is essentially one way to describe the role of PR specialists.

Some may say PR is not so important anymore as public opinion and its publicity soon overcome any message a business or entity wishes to control and communicate. There is no way to control the narrative unless the people are cut off from global social networking sites. As we know, this is happening in some countries today.

Statista reports 71 countries have banned social media – at some time far more than we knew including:

  • Russia
  • China
  • Iran
  • North Korea

Therefore in the liberal countries where democracy rules, public relations has found a way to ensure public relations is front and center of the marketing mix again, albeit in a digital format, and with new channels navigating away from offline-only media.

So it’s essential to have a strong content strategy for the forthcoming year to position your company or brand as a thought leader and speak to your customers and influencers where they are in the online marketplace.

What are some of the changes in public relations, and how can you use them too?

1.  Digital and PR Strategies Fully Intersect

Public relations is arguably one of the most important elements of a successful business and marketing strategy for 2016, and this year, we’ll see digital and PR strategies fully intersect. With content and digital marketing rapidly becoming the most important part of the marketing strategy, traditional marketing campaigns and channel choices are eclipsed.

PR industry experts like Rosemary Plorin say their field will continue to evolve as digital marketing solidifies its position, shifting communications with the media, stakeholders, and consumers online. The good news is that this gives you greater control over your messaging.

Remember when you wrote a press release and then had to get on the phone to pitch it to your contacts hoping that one of them would pick it up?

While there’s still a place for that for some of your stories, you’re in charge of reaching your desired consumer and media audience for the majority of your PR activity. And they’re all online. Your message is still the same. It’s just your delivery and where you deliver it’s that’s different.

Take to social media, follow the most significant influencers and journalists in your business area, and create and share your owned content to engage with your customers and your influencers. And we’re not just talking about a standard old-school press release or a pointless social media post.

Today it’s all about the digital format, and you can get your message out in content formats your followers want to read and redistribute including :

Not only will you engage and establish your voice in your sector, but your search engine rankings will also thank you too.

2. PR Pros Are in High Demand

As we see industries like print journalism contract, the role of PR professionals are becoming more and more important within marketing.

The intelligent PR professional understands the digital world and how to leverage their brand to increase brand visibility, credibility, messaging, and sales.

As digital continues to evolve, so do the industry professionals, who are becoming more sophisticated in their communications delivery, measurement, analytics, and purpose.

Public relations executives should oversee the entire content and social media marketing strategy and be able to identify and track campaign successes and areas for improvement like never before.

3. Growth in Thought Leadership a PR Priority

While managing c-suite public profiles isn’t a new phenomenon, the growth in thought leadership via digital channels and increased visibility of high-level executives will lead to increased public relations spending in the area.

Thought leadership will forge a core element of the overall communications strategy, delivering consistent messaging from the outset that trickles through the entire business and across all channels and content delivery. Smart businesses are setting aside bigger chunks of their budget now.

4. Demand for Social Audio and Visual Continues to Grow

Social media executed right has earned its stripes as one of the most credible sets of channels available for brand communicators, yet creating the right content can be demanding. Millennials’ appetite for sharable social content isn’t slowing down, with older platforms like Facebook holding their own next to newer entrants like Telegraph.

PR experts need to adapt their content for networks and users to get a conversion. As people are on the go, often multitasking screen time with other activities, easily digestible content like infographics, podcasts, photography, and video are preferred and can deliver brand messaging in far sharper ways than traditional content.

Beware of a “one size fits all” strategy, however. Understanding your audience and target market, the social platforms they are using and engaging best with, and using analytics to identify successes and weak spots are imperative to social success.

5. Increased Regulation of Paid Content Makes Earned Media Even More Desirable

With the FTC increasing regulatory requirements for native advertising online, the need for promoted content to be labeled far more prominently may impact the credibility of the content and how desirable the channel is within the marketing mix.

With this in mind, it will become even more important for PR pros to create the right relationships with the media and key influencers and create credible content that can be shared throughout their networks.

Earned content will continue as the goal for PR, and employing the tactics above will be hugely beneficial in helping obtain it.