When I look at the PR landscape and the reach of traditional media, I can’t help but think about how the average small business owner, nonprofit, or even the big well-known brands will continue to garner media attention and develop their communication strategy in 2019 and beyond. Newsrooms are continuing to shrink and people’s attention is now scattered in an infinite number of directions. From social media to traditional media, the communications landscape is changing. The exciting part about all of this change is that those of us that work in the field of communications are sure to be employed for many years to come.
Let’s talk about the changes that we must address…
Traditional Media Wanes
This is the most obvious trend that can not be denied. When you look at the dramatic numbers that occurred so far this year in layoffs in media spaces, one has to realize that pitching will have to change as it relates to digital media. As communicators, we may have to do a lot more writing of stories, verifying facts, and finding appropriate imagery for stories to even get considered for publishing.
Recently, I was working on a USA Today article that changed forms three times. The editor asked for a change in direction, rewrites, and exact verification of the stats included in the article with each rewrite. This is becoming the norm and is something that those of us in the field of communications will need to adjust to in this new realm of what it takes to reach our audiences.
The Power of Storytelling Deepens
PR is now more than just one press release about a particular issue pitched to select journalist via a wire service. Audiences want to hear and become a part of the story. Content will need to be dripped out to audiences on a consistent basis in order to create brand ambassadors, encourage action of some sort, or even to continue the positive feelings about a brand.
Storytelling will need to be done in interesting and engaging ways. Introduce your audience to the important characters in your brand's life. Show some of the behind the scenes and jump in on relevant conversations. But, remembering all the while to be authentic. Show through the power of story how your brand is able to solve the problems of the target audience.
Become Your Own Media House
Why wait for a major media outlet to bless your story when you have the power to share your story in so many formats today. Whether you are a politician creating your personal brand or trying to grow interest in a product, this basic principle applies to all categories.
Create a piece of content like the piece of content you are reading right now. Post the piece in its entirety on places like your own blog, your Medium page, or your LinkedIn page. It all depends what it the appropriate place to reach your target audience. Create a number of social media post for the week that relate to the long form piece of content that you posted. Remember to lead people back to what you would like to consider your home base. Rinse and repeat!
Now, I have simplified the process, but ultimately the idea is to repurpose your content. You do not have to create all new content for each post. Big brands do it all of the time. If you do not have a team of people to help you create content, repurposing content is one of the best strategies that you can use in order to share content on a consistent basis.
The Lines Between Marketing & PR Blur
In recent years, The Marketing Department and The PR Department have run in silos. For many companies, they still do. This is a model that will not be able to continue and still prove to be successful. Marketing and PR need to operate as if they are performing in the symphony. If one is operating on in the key of B flat the other one should be too.
If you are the senior communicator for your brand, you have to step back and create an integrated communication plan. You may not understand the intricacies of making each element work, but you do need to know how each of the elements is going to work together for the good of the brand.
The Marketing and PR goals should be similar in an effort to better track what is working and what is not working. Your metrics from all of your communication efforts are going to tell you if you are moving in the right direction or if you need to tweak something that you are doing. Luckily, with social media and the internet, it is extremely easy to pivot if that seems to be the best step. Be sure to evaluate it carefully because there may be times that you need to stick to the course of action in order to reach your goals.
If I worked in an organization, I would make sure that these departments answered to the same person that would be able to have oversight of the appropriate long term goals. If I were working with an individual that was concerned about their personal brand, I would make sure that we created an integrated communication approach so that the effort of Marketing and PR worked in tandem.
Understanding and acting on the idea that Marketing and PR work best when they are in sync will change the power of your messaging.
The Relationship Between the Leadership Team and the PR Pro is Vital
In year’s past, the communications leader was not always given a seat at the table with corporate leadership. This meant that the information that was given to the communication team was second-hand information based on the strength of the leader. The leader whose role it was to communicate with the communication team may or may not pick up on topics that need to be communicated to the various target audiences.
More and more we are seeing that the director of communications is right beside the CEO or executive leadership team member. This model gives the communicator background knowledge and the ability to phrase content properly without getting the messaging wrong or saying something that may have been interpreted wrong.
The key here is to keep your communication expert close. Do not hold back on sharing information with this individual. You will be surprised how much the quality of your communication will go up if this person is given all of the information instead of bits and pieces. You must hire a communications person that you can trust with all of your information. It’s not fair to judge this individual on the quality of his or her work if they have not been given full access. PERIOD!