PR trends 2017: Blurring lines of PR

PR has always evolved from chasing print media clippings for clients to securing a bite on visual media. But now digital media has changed the game forever. PR today is crossing over to its allied fields of marketing and advertising to conjoin and form a hybrid that can cater to the promotional needs of any company. This change has been brought about by the increasing advent of Internet and social media on the lives of consumers. If you aren’t on the Internet, you don’t exist at all. This is the raging new trend of the millennium and social media is its flag-bearer. The 450 million profiles on LinkedIn, 1.94 billion active users on Facebook, 328 million active users on Twitter–in addition to the millions on other micro-blogging and social media platforms–stand proof to the rising influence of social media.

You cannot reach your target audience unless you stay on top of the Google search results; and you won’t be on top of the Google search results if your blog posts, Facebook comments and Tweets don’t make the grade.

How does this connect to PR? Everything in the promotional space eventually entwines with PR. We need to understand how in the age of online adverts and digital marketing campaigns PR has been blending with various domains.

Content is your skeleton

High-quality content is a game changer in today’s SEO-driven content. Businesses that have a long form content and high-quality backlinks are ranked higher by Google according to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google. Today marketing and social media marketing have already stepped in to fill this need. But PR should ensure that quality content also follows the same route–bridging the gap between PR and marketing content. Good content can generate organic traffic into the sites and lift their search engine ranking. To succeed in the digital age, PR must generate quality content on social media, blogs and websites. It can catapult the ranking of the company on Google search engine.

PR, Digital Marketing and online reputation

Imagine you are selling a product and go all out on marketing. Chances are even when your online & outdoor advertising and marketing efforts pay off, the customer would first want to check product reviews. 81% of the customers read reviews online before making purchases according to Hubspot. Here is where your PR comes to play: A good set of reviews from reputed blogs, positive news articles on the company, a widely pronounced social media presence can make all the difference. Customers want an assurance that the product is good and the company has a visible presence in the market. Moreover, today’s customers also feel uneasy about bad ethics. They want to know where their money goes. Sustainability stories, stories on ethical practices of the company and corporate social responsibility all play a good role. PR not only fits the bill here but guides marketing too with such content.

 Image integration

A picture speaks better than words. Per a Backlinko study, using a single image within the content can raise search engine rankings. Most of the content today is filled with pictorials. Also, content creators opt for certified content-shareable nuggets of content. Unlike in the past when only advertising and marketing teams cared for such things, today PR also pays the same attention to pictorial details in their online content. Besides, social media PR is never complete without graphics. This is where PR works alongside with the creative and ad agencies to achieve its goals.

Social media marketing or social media PR?

Social media marketing focuses on how the brand wants to be projected, but social media PR engages influencers to push brand messaging. But where do you draw the line? Well, you don’t. Both have a job to do and make a perfect soul mate to each other. Customers like creative representations of a brand but also want to hear what others are saying about it. This can happen on the same platform fusing both verticals and offers the end benefit to the brand.

The sweeping march of social media has made cross-field working inevitable. Social media’s multidimensional oneness has weaved marketing disciplines together for a better brand promotion

5 Things a PR can Do to Fine-Tune Social Media Reach

Megyn Kelly of NBC News might have asked Prime Minister Modi if he used Twitter. But not many would ask you that today. Today, the question is direct—what’s your Facebook, LinkedIn id or Twitter handle? Social media connects you with your friends, colleagues and even aliens. A mammoth 2.95 billion people are expected to be on social media platforms by 2020. Social media is here to stay. As connectivity improves and the use of smartphones goes up, a larger part of the world population will take to social media platforms to share, discuss and critique. It’s unstoppable.

What started as an individual’s personal space to share with family and friends, has now evolved to envelop businesses, celebrities, government agencies, non-government organisations and a lot more. Hardly an individual or business exists today that is not touched by social media.

Creating content for social media is crucial for success in digital PR. In the past, a PR professional engaged with the newsroom of a media house. Now you create your own digital content through your PR newsrooms. Your clients will use this digital content to reach out to a wider audience for better visibility.

The increasing influence of social media requires PR professionals to use social media platforms to their advantage. Here are 5 things a PR professional can do to fine-tune their social media reach:

Have a finger in every pie

Facebook may be the leading light of social media platform in terms of users. But there are other equally important platforms that cry out for attention. Social sites Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram each serve a specific purpose. Each of these social platforms can be used for a specific need. Facebook can be used for sharing news and personal information with family and friends; or publishing latest events and trends on the business page. Twitter is more for breaking news shared in epigrammatic dispatches; LinkedIn is for professionals engaged in different industries; Instagram is the place to express through images.  Having a presence on all these popular social networking platforms can help PR professionals get the visibility they desire for their clients.

Building Relationships

Social Media is all about building relationships by word of mouth. A PR professional must build relationships with the audience and with the media fraternity. Social media platforms make finding contacts effortless, making connecting with the individual a breeze. A simple follow a Twitter account, regularly sharing updates from a specific account can make connecting with the individual that much more easier as he or she will appreciate your move in sharing their content. You can even drop a private message too with a request of making a mention about your content. LinkedIn—a platform for professionals and corporate–is also a right place for building relations. A request to join a group of professionals on a specific subject can give you access to a group that regularly discusses on industry topics.

Broadcasting information

The widespread following that social media platforms command make them apt for sharing or spreading information. A study conducted by ING on the impact of social media on the activities of PR and journalists found 50 per cent of journalists look at social media as a main source of information. PR professionals looking to attract specific individuals can tag them on Facebook or use the individuals’ or enterprises Twitter handle to get immediate attention.

Be a thought leader

There is an influx of content on social media. But not all information gets consumed. PR professionals must share content that stands out. Sharing thought-provoking industry-related articles on trending topics on networks like LinkedIn can attract the right audience and speaks well for the business. Getting quotes and views from industry experts is another way of creating interest in your content. It also gets shared by the experts in their social media feeds.

The right format

Sharing the content in the right format such as video and slideshows is a must know for every PR professional. In 2015, Facebook boasted of an impressive 8 billion daily video views. Writing short concise articles for followers on Twitter and Facebook can help reach out to a larger audience. Sharing in-depth reports or white papers on platforms like LinkedIn and SlideShare can help attract people from the industry as well as businesses.

Social media must become an organic part of a PR professional’s plan to reach out to a larger audience. Digital PR should have a visible online presence. PR is no more about dissing out press releases to media outlets. It is a constantly evolving world and keeping up with technology is not going to be easy. A good PR adapts to new technology and trends. It is important that every PR professional today embrace the Digital PR in full thrust. He or she must become a part of the conversation itself.