Earlier this year, at a PRSA NJ seminar held at Rutgers University, two top PR experts from New Jersey explained to 40 of their peers “Integrated Marketing Communications: How to Stay Relevant in the PR Revolution.”
It’s my guess, since you are reading this, that you also would like to stay relevant in the new PR, or at least find out what it’s all about. So, what is the new PR and how is it different from traditional PR?
In traditional public relations, PR professionals obtain favorable publicity for their clients (or employers) by “earning” news coverage with independent news organizations like newspapers, television and radio. Then they demonstrate the value of those news stories to their clients by magically calculating the “advertising equivalent value” (AVE) of each story.
Did your client win positive coverage of its new widget on the front page of your hometown daily’s business section? Home run!
The proponents of the new PR say this approach is dead, gone, irrelevant, R.I.P. The Internet—and the online communications revolution it has spawned—have dealt a blow to the old PR.
The new PR involves integrated email campaigns, interactive websites, search engine optimization, content marketing, social media, sophisticated measurement of outcomes, and stronger leadership.
Above all, it relies on interactive, online communications to develop and nurture a strong one-on-one relationship between a client and its individual customers, bypassing traditional media.
Here are six of my favorite insights about the new PR provided by our PRSA NJ seminar speakers: Torod Neptune, vice president and head of communications with Verizon Wireless, and Deirdre Breakenridge, marketing veteran and author of five books on the new PR.
1. Be Strategic. The new PR is strategic, which means that your PR plan must have measureable objectives that are tied directly to the bottom-line goals of your client or employer. Anything else is fluff.
2. Be a PR Leader. Educate your clients. Let them know how you can help them, first by understanding their bottom-line business goals, and then by setting measureable communications objectives to support those goals. It’s time to stop taking client orders based on shallow thinking.
3. Learn New Skills & Competencies. There’s a whole new world of skills and competencies to be learned if you want to keep up with the PR revolution. They include, but are not limited to, mastering at least the basics of proper web design and analytics, email communications, content marketing, social media, and basic mathematics and measurement. Become a perpetual and curious student of all things PR-related.
4. Be a Creative Storyteller. The ability to tell vivid and engaging stories in words and images across a variety of communications mediums is the new coin of the realm. Learn how to tell a compelling story.
5. Measure Results. AVEs are out the window, but what’s replaced them? You can now prove, or at least convincingly demonstrate, the return on investment (ROI) of PR with hard data. There are dozens of ways to collect and measure data about the precise impact of online communications on target audiences. Your clients deserve no less.
6. Market Unique Content. The Internet has devastated traditional news organizations by stealing their revenues and their audiences. Now it’s your job to “make the news” for your clients. Move their customers to take desired actions by writing unique content and distributing this content via emails, searchable web posts, social media, and other channels. It’s time to become a “brand journalist.”
In sum, there’s still a place for traditional news media in the new PR, but its role is limited and diminishing. To stay relevant in the PR revolution, today’s practitioners must learn a new mindset and a whole new set of skills and competencies. Otherwise, it’s “hasta la vista, baby!”