Predictions for PR of the Future

Crystal ball

One of the scariest and most exciting things for any professional to consider is where their industry is going. For PR professionals, the answer will always involve a razor-sharp focus on developing technology and audiences.

According to Jim Weiss, PR of the future will shift its focus from earned and unpaid media to a variety of digital and mobile vehicles that will offer incredibly precise information about the target audiences. Additionally, these audiences will not be segmented by demographics as much as they will be targeted by conversation topic.

In the age of new media and big data, analytical information for audiences will become increasingly precise and multi-dimensional, allowing professionals to not only target audiences but also those who are driving conversations. PR professionals of the future will also have the ability to determine what information these conversation drivers are seeking and deliver this information with unprecedented speed, accuracy and agility.

Michael Sebastian’s report from South by Southwest in 2011 mirrored many of Weiss’ major points, indicating that PR will occur on a smaller, more focused scale with an increased emphasis on conversation topics and a decreased emphasis on demographics. Additionally, the report states that the customer service element, which has always been related to PR efforts, will become increasingly important. This is especially true as the industry becomes more proactive in shaping the perception of brands.

Another point shared by both articles is the necessity of social media training for organizations as well as individuals. Successful organizations will have social media guidelines that are flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing best practices for the medium. These guidelines should allow professionals to exercise sound judgment while adapting to new and rapidly-changing technology.

Some criticism of these ideas claims that although these are sound predictions for consumer brands, B2B public relations has not been as quick to evolve and may be behind the curve. If this is true, PR professionals should be observant of changes throughout the industry to apply as B2B communications play catch up.


Blogs: cure for the common press release

blog wordcloud

Journalistics co-founder and editor Jeremy Porter recently posed the question, “Are blog posts better than press releases?” He argues that press releases take more time and effort to produce and distribute. He also challenges the return on investment from press releases and social media releases. Porter proposes that a company news blog is a more manageable, controlled and effective way to create buzz and communicate with a business’ audiences, including the media.

But this is not an entirely new concept. Professionals began predicting the extinction of press releases as early as 2005. Many have denounced press releases for the tremendous amount of time, effort and expense they demand and the questionable amount of benefit they actually deliver.

A company news blog, on the other hand, replaces the archive of press releases in a company’s online pressroom with timely, easily distributed posts with the same relevant information presented in a more engaging and concise way.

The other major benefit to this approach is how the distribution of a company’s news is seamlessly intertwined with social media. News can be shared through a Tweet, a Facebook post or instantly delivered to a subscriber’s email address the moment it’s published. Not only can the company share its latest headlines with its audiences, but audience members can quickly and easily share this information with others.

Porter suggests that one of the most important things for a company to do before making the switch is to alert all of its media contacts to the changes.

Since blog posts are easier to create and are updated more frequently than press releases, planning news content ahead of time is crucial. Instead of forcing news, Porter urges companies to get creative. News shared on a company’s blog can include hard-hitting news stories or a monthly post from the CEO; as long as the post contains information that is relevant and beneficial to the company’s key audiences.

Consolidating the archive of press releases with the new platform is also crucial. This will help make older information easier to find and boost the blog’s search engine rankings.

Many B2B communication professionals argue that press releases are as effective today as they have ever been. The idea of replacing news releases with a company blog has also drawn criticism from those who consider this to be a shortcut or “magic pill” for getting good publicity.

The digital age may not put the press release out to pasture any time soon, but as time and financial constraints get tighter and integration with social media becomes more necessary, an increasing number of professionals are using blogs as a viable predecessor to the old PR staple.

Which clients would you recommend use a news blog instead of press releases? Do you think this is a viable option for businesses and PR professionals? How else might this affect the communication field as we know it?