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Keep up with the PR transformation in 2020

illustration of the digital landscape

Savvy PR pros know keeping up with new developments in the comms world is imperative to both their brand’s success, as well as their own. Here are a couple of trends that require the successful PR pro’s attention.

1.  The shifting media and influencer landscape

Journalism jobs have declined, local papers and media organizations have closed down, while fake news and misinformation are on the rise. For a PR pro, it can be hard to keep up with media contacts, many of whom move around and write for multiple organizations.

Contributing to the chaos: Traditional media is no longer the sole source for news. Social media’s complex role in the dissemination of news — whether that news is “real” or “fake” — has fueled concerns around who controls the stories that people see.

Then there’s the added dimension of influencer marketing. What exactly is an influencer and who should you target? Should it be celebrities with millions of followers, or nano-influencers catering to a small but specific audience?

Adapting to the new dynamics takes time, even as many of the fundamentals remain in play. The relationship between PR and communications professionals, traditional media and social influencers continues to evolve as technology, events and consumers change. PR pros will need to be nimbler to maintain these relationships while holding tight to an unwavering fundamental — ensuring they are adding value to the content they provide.

Top tip: Take time to create quality content (over quantity) and reap the rewards. In this era of instant information, slow journalism, which takes its time telling a story, is gaining traction. Readers and listeners spend more time engaged with the content. Instead of a one-off press release, think about how you can elevate the brand’s story with a series of articles or podcasts around a compelling topic.

2.  Become a pro in new (marketing) technology

There’s just no avoiding technology in today’s marketplace. In the communications world, it’s essential to leverage the latest software, systems and platforms to measure and interpret share of voice. With the advent of digital, to advance in PR requires proficiency in Google Analytics, CRM and CMS software, social media and HTML, for starters. (It also helps if you speak fluent GIF and emoji.)

These technologies might live within the marketing space, but as the lines continue to blur between the marketing and PR functions, the modern-day comms pro will need to learn to speak the marketing language. Understanding the relevance of SEO in PR is essential for the future of comms. It will be important to know about paid strategies, attribution, product positioning and — most importantly — selling.

That’s not to say that there are not differences between the two disciplines. SHIFT Communications has a great definition to describe this difference: “The goal of public relations is to create awareness and trust… The goal of marketing is to create demand for our products and services.”

PR people shouldn’t kick traditional practices to the curb, but continue to write strong press releases, build and manage relationships and prepare boardroom-ready reports. Fuse these effective old school methods with a new school attitude. Adopt new technologies that allow you to delve into valuable metrics and convert engagement into sales.

Change is constant, so make sure to keep up with the ongoing evolution happening in PR. Stay on top of developments in the media landscape and in technology. Make sure you’re armed with the right tools to help you get ahead, so when even more change occurs (social algorithms, for example), you’re ready.

One thing is very clear; the PR and comms pros who grow their skills and adapt to changes in the transforming industry are going to be the most successful.

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