The value of PR in a digital world
Posted on: 2018-03-05
Ruth Barrows from The Marketing Pod discusses the latest challenges and trends in PR, including the role of digital and the impact it is having on the industry.
While PR is an ever-evolving industry, which has changed dramatically over recent years, one challenge remains constant: proving its value.
Today, PR unfortunately still needs its own PR. We will work with multiple stakeholders across our clients’ businesses and industries, and it’s evident that not everyone understands the value of PR and the positive effect it can have. There is also a lack of understanding about what PR is, and indeed what it is not.
Encouraging organisations to invest in PR therefore remains difficult – something that is only heightened by the fact that its success is still so hard to measure. There has of course been an industry shift away from AVEs towards more sophisticated and strategic measurement practices, which we support.
Measurement should be about setting goals and measuring outcomes (for example, the effect on business results, which might be a percentage increase in sales), not just outputs (i.e. the number of press cuttings achieved – though any measurement of press coverage should be about quality as well as quantity). If agencies define success upfront, value will be measurable.
And new technology is making measurement and reporting easier and less time consuming, meaning PR agencies can be more productive and effective. AI and the automation of manual processes (including measurement and reporting, as well as tasks like press release distribution and the creation of media lists), allow PR consultants time to move away from the monotonous, so they have time to be increasingly creative.
Meanwhile, the growth of digital has already had a massive impact on the PR industry, and it won’t slow down any time soon. The Marketing Pod is more than just a PR agency; we’re an integrated marketing business, and digital is another channel for us. It’s well documented that online content can support a business’ SEO objectives – for example with positive backlinks improving a website’s domain authority. Through digital channels we can also reach audiences and stakeholders faster than ever before.
Of course, this presents a challenge in terms of crisis management – with news of a crisis obviously being able to quickly spread. This means that we are however seeing a shift in businesses owning and controlling their narrative instead of hiding from it, which is a good thing.
As a B2B agency, LinkedIn is a key digital channel for us, as it enables B2B professionals to execute a personal approach, using relevant and timely content to engage with customers and prospects. We encourage our clients to use account based marketing, where a business’ marketing resources are focused on a clearly defined set of target prospects, and personalised campaigns are created that resonate with them. Twitter is important too. It’s a live experience, allowing audiences to engage with information as it happens.
Interestingly, social is forecast to overtake news sites as a source of news in five years’ time, which is why PR professionals must pay attention and adapt the way they are sharing their content.
As for the future, further advances in technology means PR can only become faster and more creative. Campaigns will become more personalised, more emotionally intelligent and more measurable. This can only lead to PR being more understood and valued.