South African Tourism is a statutory body whose main object is to promote tourism to and within South Africa, by marketing the country as…
Late last year, a man who once ran the largest public relations firm in the world released a controversial book entitled Trust Me, PR Is Dead. The sentiments in this book are nothing new, really. For the past few decades, the role and importance of traditional PR have continuously been called into question.
There’s no denying that today’s practice of public relations looks quite different than it did 20 years ago. Staples such as physical press kits and fax machines have given way to tweets, emails, and other forms of digital and real-time communication — but in no way does this signify that PR is losing steam.
I believe that PR is evolving and actually increasing in importance.
The Case for Modern PR
Today, there are more voices than ever vying for consumers’ attention, and there are more channels than ever for brands to explore. This complex climate makes it difficult for companies to cut through the mess, reach their audience, and express themselves in a credible fashion.
Modern publications tend to rely on social media and click-bait headlines to meet their traffic and virality goals. This is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just reality. If brands want to be heard, they must make it clear to media outlets how their stories can be shared socially and go viral. Otherwise, in the media’s eyes, there’s nothing worth talking about.
Not many people have mastered the art of communication in the modern digital era, but this is the bread and butter of any PR professional who has been keeping up with the times.
The modern role of PR goes far beyond writing click-bait headlines, though. Here are four big reasons why it’s still as vital as ever:
1. The media is fragmented
We currently live in a world where more than 92 000 articles are posted online every single day. On top of that, readers have tiny attention spans. News is consumed in very short snippets, so it’s imperative to create easily digestible content that contains a succinct, cemented, and strategic brand message. PR firms have always helped their clients do this very thing.
2. Consumers are wary
The past few decades have brought about the rise of the smart consumer. Today, everyone from my most tech-savvy friends to my mom uses a DVR or an ad blocker to avoid traditional advertising. This rising distrust in brands makes it key for companies to strategize with a PR firm and find ways to authentically reach consumers through earned media.
3. Misinformation is everywhere
With so much noise out there, false information and hoaxes plague the Internet. Modern brands need a strong, well-informed, and digitally savvy entity to represent them, ensuring the right messages are circulated and the wrong ones are promptly quashed.
4. The influence of influencers has spread
When bloggers first entered the scene, no one really saw them as viable, credible trendsetters or storytellers. But now that word of mouth has become the most trusted form of advertising, both bloggers and social media influencers have become essential parts of a brand’s marketing strategy. The best and easiest way to reach influencers is through direct outreach from a PR firm — which likely has dozens of them on speed dial.
The times certainly have changed, but unlike fax machines, PR wasn’t left in the dust. Modern brands still need an advocate to help them earn their place in the social sphere and embrace the power of earned media.
We may no longer be in the age of paper press kits, but even in today’s world of mommy bloggers and YouTubers, PR is still king.
Image: Niuton may via Flickr.