How the PR landscape has changed

Ten years ago, a PR professional was only ever as good as their last cuttings book. Head of PR & Social, Neil McDonald, looks at how the PR landscape has evolved.

The PR landscape has changed dramatically since I entered the industry just over a decade ago. Back then it was all about getting as much press coverage as possible. My days would be spent writing and selling stories, I was only ever as good as my last cuttings book.

Today, things are a bit different.

Sure, securing regular and meaningful coverage for a client will always remain a big priority of any PR professional. However, the emergence of digital and social has completely transformed how we build and deliver campaigns. We now live in a connected world where client stories are strategically positioned across print, social and other digital platforms.

Rather than living in silos, PR and social should be joined-up to ensure that content and messages are delivered to the right audiences at the right time. The approach should be very much seamless.

The two key components of any campaign should be good strategy and being able to measure success.

Firstly you have to be clear about what you want to be telling the market place, firm-up your messaging and then consider the most effective way to tell your story. All content needs to pass the proof point - ask yourself why are you doing this, what do you want to say and who do you want to reach? It’s then important to consider how you tell that story – is it a press release, blog, video, case study or infographic?

In some cases it may be all of the above, but you should always develop content with the audience in mind, thinking about the best way to present the idea.

Sometimes stories may not be strong enough for media, but now there are a host of opportunities to package content across your own channels, speaking directly to people who want to listen to you. For example, the piece of thought leadership in the business broadsheet can now be amplified through LinkedIn Pulse or developed into a video blog. The client case study that showcases the value of your product or service can not only be placed in trade media, but hosted on your blog and pushed through all social channels.

The use of social analytics has also made us PR people a lot more sophisticated in targeting and measuring the success of our campaigns. Before a thick cuttings book and a healthy Advertising Value Equivalent figure was always seen as the barometer of the campaign. However those days are well and truly gone as clients demand more insight and awareness of how the communications strategy is helping them to engage better with their audiences.

We are now able to drill into the impact of our campaigns - exploring engagement and click-through figures to audience demographics and location. All information can be evaluated day-to-day, allowing us to sharpen and refocus the objectives of the wider communications strategy. Being able to be more forensic about our campaigns has enabled us to learn, do things better and ultimately deliver better results for clients.

As an industry we have much more power at our disposal, coupled with good writing skills and the ability to tell good stories, we have a pretty strong proposition for the digital world.

The only thing I now need to think about is how and where I should be sharing my blog……..

By Neil McDonald, Head of PR & Social.