In the age of digital media, is PR still relevant?
For Heather DeSantis, founder and CEO of Publicity for Good, the answer is a clear and resounding yes. But with one important caveat—you have to update and upgrade your current strategies. Technology and changing consumer habits have shifted the way PR is done. It used to be fairly straightforward—build your relationship with relevant media, pitch your story, wait until it gets picked up.
“In a sense that still holds true. But new tools, platforms, and evolving customer priorities prompted a big shift in how we traditionally did things. As a business, if you want to stay competitive and relevant, you have to adapt. You can’t just settle for doing the same old thing,” explains DeSantis.
Even with the numerous available platforms that allow brands and services to market their company, PR remains one of the most effective and credible. In fact, 92 percent of consumers still say that they trust earned media over purely promotional content.
“With 2020 just starting, now would be the best time to take stock of your current strategies to see how the latest PR trends can be applied to your efforts,” she adds.
1. Make sure your pitches tell a story
It’s not enough to have an interesting product or a novel new service. At the end of the day, if you want to cut through the noise and stand out, your brand has to tell a story.
“Telling a story allows you to connect better with your audience, draw out emotion, and relate better to them with new ideas. Ultimately this helps to make your brand be more memorable,” DeSantis says.
Always find the human element to establish that link between your brand and your customers and build your story from that.
2. Influencers are going to be big
Social media is so influential in this day and age, it would be a mistake to ignore the value that influencers bring to the table. Between YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and many more, influencers can help you reach your audience and expand your reach in a more personal way that traditional advertising can’t.
Bear in mind, 49 percent of customers rely on influencer recommendations as well. And it can, on the average, deliver $6.50 for every $1 spent.
“The key really is to find the right influencer on the right platform. I would advice you to do your research to find out who your audience follows and related with the most so you can maximize engagement and reap significant ROI,” DeSantis shares.
3. Get personal
There was once a time when it was more respectable for CEOs to hide behind the name of the business that they’re at the helm of. But these days, people want to know more about businesses they patronize—that includes learning more about the founders, CEOs and even the company’s more high-profile employees.
“We are nothing if not for our team, so any chance you get to put the spotlight on the team members that make it happen for your business, take it. It’s a strategy that make brands more relatable and interesting and at the same time, it can also be an empowering morale boost for your team,” DeSantis says.
4. Leverage on analytics
All this technology today is not only convenient for publicists, it also allows PR to quantify what they do. By far, one of the most challenging aspects of PR is how difficult it was to quantify publicity efforts outside of earned media space. Where are the metrics that illustrate your effort’s reach and influence?
“Don’t make data and analytics an afterthought—especially when we now have the tools to track metrics. These numbers give us an opportunity to understand what we need to adjust to make our strategies more effective. It shows us clearly if we’re hitting targets and gives us an opportunity to tweak our campaigns if we’re not,” DeSantis adds.
Bottom line? At the core of PR is still relationships, creativity, and strategy—but opportunities abound for businesses willing to evolve with the changing needs of its customers and adopt new technology for efficiency. All that said, it’s definitely going to be an exciting year for the industry. So be sure that you give yourself a good head start by keeping these trends in mind.