You may feel that your marketing team IS your public relations team. And although they can perform similarly in theory, the reality is that they have two distinct goals. Marketing works to increase sales (and income), while public relations has a simpler goal: to improve and expand your brand image. So outside of the sales you bring in, your PR team helps your company look its best to the public. With much more pressing tasks than creating press releases, PR departments perform a wide range of tasks, from presenting your brand name as a veritable expert in your industry to defending your brand against social media scandals, carrying a heavy weight for your company.
This clarification aside, it is true that the distinction between marketing and public relations is blurry. With the growth of social media and the reality that news happens and is shared in real-time, public relations must transform as the technology does. It will continue to be key for PR team members to remain alert and prepared for new trends which arise in public relations. In fact, a 2017 study by ASC revealed that 87% of PR professionals indicated that the term “Public Relations” wont even describe what they actually do in five years, and with the barrage of fake news and misinformation, the public relations industry appears and needs to function differently than it has in years past.
Types of Public Relations
Owned. This is the content your business has created, be it your website copy, blogs your team has written, or your social media posts, is controlled by you. This represents the heart of who you are, and the type of information others use to verify your identity.
Paid. This term represents how you promote your content, like paying to promote on social media, marketing through influencers, or pay-per-click advertising. It is a “leg up” in getting your content and name in front of your audience.
Earned. This is the type of PR you are striving to achieve, and the type of content other consumers look for to drive them to choose your company. From customer reviews, accolades in industry content, to search engine rankings, this provides additional proof that your brand is widely recognized. Trends show that this type of media is on the decline, even though on the surface this appears to be the form which provides the most depth to companies. It requires time and effort to “earn” it!
Knowing what PR does for your brand helps you to create an effective strategy. Although there are so many methods for approaching PR, here are a just a few which are trending in 2018:
Appreciate and utilize thought leaders throughout your company—you may have a plethora of “gurus” on your team. Appreciate the differing skill sets and expertise which are held by a variety of team members and use them to strengthen your brand and authority. Further, the deeper the culture of thought leadership in your company, the stronger your brand will be. You don’t have to be an expert, its all about perception. Offering insightful content regularly, answering common questions in your industry, and providing some type of “signature” content on your specific expertise all strengthen your brand.
Lure Customers to Your Brand for an Increasing Amount of Content
The online world is crowded. Activity and chatter are happening everywhere, and consumers struggle to wade through the thousands of options when it comes to information. Presenting your visitors with a comprehensive array of content options means you are one step closer to becoming a “one-stop shop,” providing visitors with plenty of digestible information. Consider where your competitors are found, and look to dominate the space, distinguishing your brand.
Expanding Channels, Reputation Management & Dark Social
Now that an increasing number of clients and customers are found on social sites, your public relations team must have a strong presence there. The only way to prevent negative comments and experiences from affecting your businesses is to promote your brand and respond to those nay-sayers.
Additionally, dark social is a growing phenomenon with the explosion of social media and advancement of private channels. Consumers are sharing content on messenger apps and email, methods in which people share links and content privately, outside of measurement. To be honest, this is where brands may win or lose—friends telling friends their opinions! Therefore, by partnering with influencers who use dark social, you can engage new leads as well as get valuable feedback from customers in a personal setting.
More than ever, consumers want a personal connection with brands, which builds loyalty and allows you to strengthen the bond and nurture your consumers into brand advocates themselves. Digital storytelling not only allows you to share real-world examples of your brand in action but also inspires listeners to act and tell their own stories. Humans want to share their experiences and find mutual interests, so digital storytelling allows you to increase awareness of your team’s charitable efforts, advocacy interests, and to build their communities. Not only does this strengthen the bond your brand has with its customers, it also builds authority and influence due to your efforts outside of your business goals.
The Growth of PR Agencies
Due to the sophisticated and complex nature of PR, with multiple channels and rapidly transforming techniques, companies are now more than ever looking for the expertise which agencies can provide. From the insights they provide, to their knowledge of digital and social media, agencies offer an assortment of experts to support brands. A growing number of young PR professionals work for agencies to maximize their creativity, expand the number of companies they can represent, and develop their personal PR skills.