Although the PRSA definition of the practice is still relevant today, the processes in which we reach the end goal are quickly maturing. Public relations defined is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Yes, the core of the practice will always be, to develop relationships, increase brand awareness and build a solid reputation for the cause or client, but the way we arrive at the bottom line has advanced and will continue doing so.
Print Media is No Longer King
It the past year alone, All You magazine has closed, Esquire magazine has laid off members of its staff, Sports Illustrated laid off their entire photo staff and Lucky magazine has shut down. The time in the sun for print magazines is officially over. Both clients and agencies have in return had to shift their perception of what is a valued placement. Is there merit in spending agency time pitching print press that may shut their doors before the necessary issue has released? Content published on the web ultimately can live forever, but this is not the case for print. In the upcoming years, placements on web-only news sources must be given priority. Right now, podcasts and webcasts are trending, although it is too soon to tell whether these will develop massive numbers of audience’s it might soon be worth spending more time pitching to these new sources and spending less time pitching to print sources.
The Traditional Press Release is Dead
Many standard public relations methods have already been replaced at least in part, by a personalized, virtual or social experience. The press release is heading in a similar direction. Simply put, editors no longer have the time nor the patience to read every single release they receive. The newest version is personalized, shorter, and shares the message quicker. It also focuses on visuals such as infographics, high-quality images, and video clips that catch the attention of the reader quickly and hold it for a longer time. Recently agencies have been experimenting with text message and blog post releases. Our imaginations are free to run wild when it comes to delivering a message.
Social is Not Optional
The job description of the publicist today, is not the one of our mothers and fathers. In 2015, a publicist must enter the workforce as a storyteller, photographer, video producer, graphic designer, blogger, social media expert, and SEO specialist. Clients and publicists alike must have a firm understanding of social media analytics and content creation to compete in the public relations space. Of course, this is something that can be outsourced, but the best agencies do all the above for their clients and more. Clients crave one stop shops and publicists that can do anything and everything that their businesses need.
The Top Influencers May Not Be Celebrities
Social media influencers have reached celebrity status. Earlier this year Time magazine released a list of The 30 Most Influential People on the Internet. The list included some of the world’s most famous such President Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Author J.K. Rowling, and Kim Kardashian. Of the 30 people named, ten are social media personalities. These people are bloggers, Vine users, beauty gurus and video gamers who have made a career out of influencing others via social media. The followers of these people are unique because they are large audiences of niche groups. Bethany Mota, a beauty blogger, and frequent Twitter user reaches a YouTube audience of 8.3 million, and a Twitter following of 2.6 million. To put this in perspective, Refinery29 ranks in with a Twitter following of 994K, Glamour magazine at 1.1 million and Self magazine at 371K. These are numbers that pale in comparison to Bethany’s. What does this mean for PR pros? We have to adjust our strategies. Sometimes it means that paying a blogger to post about a product on Instagram may equal a bigger ROI for the client than sending a free product to a top actor in hopes of a mention.
It is truly an exciting time in the PR industry. Changes are impending, and it is up to us as PR agencies to use them in our favor. Those who do not move with the current will be left behind, while the rest of us have a variety of new resources and technique to experiment with. Let the creative juices flow, and welcome to the new PR industry.