There’s a great article over at Mashable about how technologies such as social media have impacted the way we consume information, and the knock-on impact for the Public Relations business.
It seems that, slowly but surely, companies are realizing the “spray and pray” approach to distributing information – par for the course for most PR companies until very recently – is finally on its way out.
And about time too.
Public Relations Needs To Evolve
With so much digital noise competing for our attention, it could be said that media releases are more important now than ever before.
But for the vast majority of press announcements to remain valid forms of “content distribution” (for that’s what we’re talking about) we need to get away from the days where “Big Company #1” blasts out a release a day (or more) simply for the sake of it, expecting everyone to drop everything and take notice.
Judging by the content of many that I see, most press releases today have little ‘meat’ to them, and seem to be sent out as much for the backlink value as anything else.
But PR shouldn’t just be about distributing press releases – whether that’s by emailing Word files to editors and journalists, or linking to them on social media channels. Surely PR has a greater role to play in a world where brands are looking for ways to be front-and-center in the minds of their audience, and audience influencers?
The New, Extended Role Of Public Relations
Today’s PR company needs to look deeper into who actually needs, cares and benefits from your news, and have the courage to educate their clients that more is not always better. Surely we’ve moved on from the days where we would just blast announcements to all and sundry, hoping that something will stick?
For example a good friend of mine runs a specialist PR agency in Boston. He flatly refuses to write and send what he calls “fluff” media releases for clients. We’ve all seen fluff releases – those titbits of non-information crafted and distributed for the sole purpose of having “something” in the press that week. Releases such as “XYZ Company Launches New, Mobile-Optimized Website”, “XYZ Company CEO Appointed Grand Poo-Bah At Her Local Rotary Club”, or “XYZ Company CEO’s Dog Gives Birth To 7 Puppies”. OK, maybe not that last one…
The problem with cluttering an editor’s Inbox with fluff releases is that company isn’t taken seriously. Not only is there an element of The Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome (ignoring newsworthy releases because the last 5 have been fluff). There’s the real issue of eroding the relationship my friend has built-up with his contacts. Not only does this particular company suffer, but potentially so does every other client my friend represents.
‘Public Relations 2.0’ is about working with the client to build real and valuable relationships designed to benefit both parties. It may mean developing relations with industry/audience influencers outside of ‘traditional’ press – consultants, analysts, bloggers, podcasters, videographers, and so on. It may mean developing case studies, white papers, looking out for article submissions on relevant publications, or speaking opportunities at conferences and seminars. It could be building content campaigns, gift guides, preparing and submitting awards applications, and much more.
Just as with social media, PR is no longer about talking to your audience. It’s about talking with your audience.