My Brain Trust Weekly: Practicing PR in a Digital World

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My Brain Trust Weekly: Practicing PR in a Digital World
January 6, 2018

While I have broadened the scope of my experience over the years to marketing and communications, I came up practicing public relations. My education started in the late 80s under one of Seattle’s top PR practitioners, and I was lucky enough to work with her for 10 years and learn from a master. I moved on to manage the PR functions for two large organizations, became accredited in public relations (APR), and served as President of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America – and so I have a strong understanding of the profession.

Back then, it was all about getting to know the journalists covering the industry you worked in, wining and dining them, pitching them on your product or service, and getting the coverage. And while some of this still holds true today, much has changed with the advent of technology and social media.

Today, a PR professional’s job is still to strategically place stories, but given the changes (read: loss) in the print industry, coupled with the proliferation of blogs and online mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, etc, to whom and the way one pitches has changed. It’s now about more than just pushing out your message, it’s about content creation and engaging your audience (i.e. the reporter or blogger) in a two-way conversation.

In The Evolution of Public Relations, Beth Ann McDonald writes:

According to Jack Leslie, Chairman at Weber Shandwick, PR has moved from a broadcast model to an engagement model, meaning PR professionals are in a constant two-way conversation with the media. Now PR specialist are focusing less and less on traditional efforts and are trying to make outreach and engagement with the media more organic. By doing so, the messages that we are offering to editors seem more natural and specific to their interests, rather than a mass email that reads very generic and regulated.

The Brain Trust resources below delve into more detail about the transformation that is taking place. They outline the types of skills one must have to become a successful practitioner, and show what a great campaign looks like. From my perspective, I think the job has become much more interesting!

Public relations in 2018 (Stephen Waddington)
Here’s my analysis of the opportunities and challenges that I believe public relations faces in the next 12 months. They’re not so much predictions as a work in progress. This is an article and deck about the outlook for public relations and social media in 2018. It’s based on insight from my day job working at Ketchum and incorporates crowdsourced feedback to an initial draft.

The Biggest and Most Important Media and PR Trends for 2018 (Forbes)
Reaching out via the spiritual universe, I spoke to some of the best minds in PR today to find out what’s coming next.  Unlike other columns about the future with predictions based on 2016 giving us insights about trends that are already here – People are using social media? No way! – I asked these Seers of Spin to look towards 2018, and beyond.  Many of these PR pros responded directly to me, and others with unique expertise were found on the web.  From Artificial Intelligence to Fake News, content marketing to client communications, here’s what the futurists predict for the communications industry.

Evolving PR Practice: How Times Have Changed (Muckle Media)
As an alumni of Leeds Beckett who graduated 15 years ago, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on three of the biggest changes to PR practice I’ve witnessed throughout my career.

The Future of Public Relations: Trends, Skills, PR vs. Marketing (Study) (MarketingProfs)
Public relations professionals say digital storytelling and social listening are the trends that will most influence the future of the field, according to recent research from the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations and the Association of National AdvertisersThe report was based on data from a survey of 875 public relations professionals (63% work for an agency; 37% work in-house) as well as data from a survey of 101 in-house marketers.

10 Tips for Enhancing Your PR Metrics in 2018 (Ragan)
Another year, another demand for ROI. PR pros will face growing pressure in 2018 to prove how their activities contribute to the organization’s bottom line. Digital-savvy marketing teams could make substantial inroads into traditional public relations turf if PR does not offer relevant benchmarks. In essence, PR could soon become a subunit of marketing.

Are You Ready For PR in 2018? 5 Questions to Ask (KalvinPR)
We’ve all heard the saying that “Any PR is good PR,” but in the BtoB world, having a solid PR strategy can make the difference between just getting your name out vs. getting in front of the right audience with a great story and message. This type of success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While many believe in the power of earned media and how the resulting credibility helps establish image and reputation and ultimately, builds business, not every company is ready to commit the time, resources and thought to reap the most rewards. Here are 5 questions to ask before embarking on a plan.

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