Tag Archives: PR trends

The Evolution of Digital Communications

Communications  Roundtable Brian CohenAs content marketing blossoms into a multi-billion dollar industry, the competition for standing out becomes even more of a struggle. Social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and mobile connectivity have all contributed to our shortened attention spans and frustrations with filtering the noise to find the information that is most relevant to us. So how is digital communications evolving to help organizations get their messages effectively heard by the audiences who want to hear them? Brian Cohen, co-founder of Launch.it sat down with PR Newswire’s SVP of Marketing, Ken Wincko, to discuss opportunities for innovation in PR and marketing.

PR journalism and the evolution of press releases

A recent study sponsored by InPowered and conducted by Nielsen, found that earned media provides more benefit to brands than user generated or branded content. Given the shift towards third party content as more credible and trustworthy, Cohen believes that PR is entering a new era which he refers to as, “PR Journalism.”

According to Cohen, while the authenticity and opportunities related to earned media are clear, journalists are simply unable to cover all the news that is available to them.  Therefore, press releases are becoming the trusted third party stories that reach consumers directly.  “The stories that are being read through news releases are written by great writers who are now comprised of roughly 40 percent ex-journalists,” says Cohen, “now PR folks are talking directly to the same people they were talking to before, just through a more direct medium.”

Content creation and the rise of event marketing  

Cohen believes that the greatest opportunities ahead lie within the events industry, which has grown more innovative and tech-savvy thanks to the accessibility of content on mobile devices. Now, events themselves are only the pique of year-long content marketing campaigns. “Event marketers are taking advantage of the lack of publications in their trade markets that have disappeared,” explains Cohen, “now, we’re seeing the event industry say ‘you know what? We’re going to be the publication.We don’t want it just to be January 3 to January 5, we want the event to be about the concept.’” Mobile devices and the content created around the event act as a guide to lead conference attendees to the information that is the most important to them.

The art of discovery

“I can’t boil the ocean, but I can try to do the best that I can to make sure that content is discovered, found, and shared“ says Cohen, “Google search is one thing, but what we’re actually involved in, in our world where there is so much information, is finding things you didn’t even know you were looking for.” Herein lies the importance of distributing content across a variety of channels, as discoverability essentially lays the groundwork for building trust. Cohen predicts that aiding discoverability is one of the strongest opportunities for innovating new products for integrated communications.

PR pros and marketers are admittedly still adapting to changes in technology and public media consumption behaviors, but one thing is certain: communicators should make driving discovery of content by new audiences a priority in order to build relationships for the brands they represent. Simply put, relying on your own blog, web site or social channels to share your messages can limit the audience for your brand’s content. However, ensuring that your messages reach the audiences that they are intended for, and are found by new prospects, is what will lead to measureable outcomes for your business.

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator.  

What’s Your PR Resolution for 2014? [Survey]

Image via

The new year always brings discussion of what trends and tactics are on tap for the coming twelve months, and this year is no different.    Storytelling, new measurement tactics, hyper-targeting, visuals, social, “Slow PR” — these are just a few of the trends industry prognosticators have identified.

But we’re curious – which strategies and tactics top your PR resolutions for 2014?  Tell us in this short, one-question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2WCGNH9

And check back next week to see how your answer compares to what your peers said!

New Career Opportunities at the PR Agency of the Future

PR agencies are in a world of transition and leaders are re-defining roles as they move into unchartered territory. At the PRSA International Conference in San Francisco, heads of some of the top agencies in the nation sat down to discuss what the future holds and contribute creative ways the profession will need to adapt to address changing client needs.

One central theme is around becoming a Specialist instead of a Generalist in PR. Unique titles are emerging such as Creative Catalyst or Community and Conversation Analyst.  At the same time, PR firms are hiring candidates with special skills including videography and even comedy writing.

Key takeaways:

Janet Tyler, co-CEO and founder of Airfoil Public Relations
• The employee of the future will never look, act or think like another, they will understand the power of data is a connector and believe in the power of community.

Jack Martin, CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
• Talent function is the most important part of the business

Fred Cook, CEO and President, Golin Harris
• Employees now go through an assessment process to uncover their strengths and passions which are furthered nurtured.

PR Newswire’s VP of Business Development on the agency vertical, Andrew Meranus talked on camera afterwards to Rob Flaherty, CEO and President of Ketchum and Peter Himler, Founding Principal of Flatiron Communications about these career twists and turns already happening in PR:

PR is ….

What is modern PR to you?

(woo hoo!)

Follow the hashtag #PRis to see what your peers say, and join in the conversation!

Evolving Media … And Evolving PR

When PR Newswire was founded almost 60 years ago, television was in its infancy.   Throughout the course of our company’s history, we’ve been ringside as media markets have transformed in response to new communications technologies, from television to the fax machine, from the internet to today’s social web.   The transformation of the market – and PR Newswire’s ensuing evolution – is the subject of an article in today’s Financial Times titled, “PR and News Boundaries Are Being Redrawn.”

“Today, it’s in your organization’s interest to make your products available wherever your audience resides,” notes PR Newswire CEO Ninan Chacko. “Every product is digitized, and the context for consumption is created by content marketing.  If the product has to be available everywhere, so does that context.”

This means pushing the boundaries for content beyond the organization’s web site and its Facebook page.  So where else does it need to be? Simply put, in channels you don’t necessarily control, and where your audience lives, such as third party web sites, search engines, and across the broader social sphere.

“Find the nodes that amplify your context,” notes Ninan.  “Those nodes exist – all over the web, on blogs, within communities of interest, across social and in search. These are the primary means of discovery today.  Communicators need to expand the context of what they’re promoting, and that context needs to be available across this entire universe.”

As the information and attention marketplaces evolve, so has PR Newswire.   Our customers expect us to deliver their press releases and other content to the target audiences they’ve identified.  Today, that means a few things:

  • Being a credible new source for journalists and bloggers, and cultivating relationships with that influential audience
  • Making content compelling and easy to find – in search engines and on web sites – for other constituents our customers need to reach
  • Enabling (and encouraging) social conversations around and sharing of the content we publish
  •  Developing content audiences want to read in the formats they find most attractive and compelling, ranging from pithy tweets to fully-loaded multimedia experiences that render beautifully on tablets and mobile devices.

“Bringing the brand to the audience is the essence of what we do,” says Ninan. “We’re not competing with agencies and the brand in content creation.  We amplify the efforts and the capabilities of the agency.  The heavy lifting is done by the agency and the brand to create the content and the strategy. That’s the hard part.”

The core driver for PR Newswire is the incredible opportunity to develop earned media that exists today for PR pros and marketers, thanks to the engaged audiences populating the social web.   We understand that every piece of content an organization publishes today carries the potential to capture the significant credibility (and visibility) that’s generated when readers like, share, link to and comment on owned media assets.  We’re calling that “evolved media” and it’s central to the agile engagement construct PR Newswire has developed, because it’s up to us to ensure our customers are capitalizing on these opportunities.

So we’re arming our customers with new communications capabilities, designed to deftly target influencers, deliver actionable intelligence, identify real-time trends and opportunities and to drive messages into relevant niches previously unknown to the brands and organizations that work with us.  The media marketplace is in the midst of a sea-change, and the way people make buying decisions has morphed.  The agile engagement framework is the map we offer our clients to help them navigate their course in this new environment.

In addition to the industry’s largest and most comprehensive syndication network, PR Newswire has developed a number of solutions offering reach and functionality not available elsewhere, including the ARC Engagement Platform and Agility, a platform marrying influencer targeting and engagement, media monitoring and digital syndication.

“We’re really creating a platform that ultimately brings you – your brand, your organization – to your audience,” said Ninan. “We have different ways to get you to the audience.  Relying solely on the notion that the audience will come to you overlooks the incremental gains afforded by seeking out your audience.  Our platform enables our customers to capitalize on the evolved earned media landscape by combining content syndication with search optimization and social media engagement, providing comprehensive visibility for your brand across all the channels your audience relies upon.”

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Related reading:  Powering Agile Engagement & PR Results Through Proactive Listening

5 Instagram Tips for PR Pros

Be interesting, be useful …. or be ignored. Image via our own Victoria Harres.

Each week, Dear Gracie answers questions from ProfNet Connect readers with advice from our network of nearly 50,000 ProfNet experts. Has there been a question burning in your mind lately, something you’ve been wondering that none of your colleagues can answer? Please send it to grace.lavigne@prnewswire.com

Dear Gracie,

Instagram has been around for a couple of years, but seems to have exploded in popularity recently. How can PR pros use Instagram to increase publicity for clients?

Improving Images

**********

Dear Improving Images:

Four ProfNet experts provide a snapshot:

Instagram is a social network where users can share photos and comment or like their friends’ photos, explains Jeff Peters, social media specialist at The Halo Group.

It offers users a simple, easy way to take and edit photographs, and then post them across all major social media portals, says Seth Grugle, digital and social media specialist for Much and House Public Relations. It borrows the #hashtag concept from Twitter and aggregates friends like Facebook.

An artsy shot that benefited from tinkering with Instagram filters, by PR Newswire’s Sarah Skerik

“One of the most interesting aspects of Instagram is that it’s not really a ‘site,’ but lives almost purely on mobile,” notes Peters.

“While it’s possible for just about any brand to use Instagram, the platform itself is most appealing to brands and industries that are more visually oriented,” Peters explains. “Instagram helps create a visual connection between a brand and a consumer or potential customer.”

For example, a fashion line could post photos of inspirational clothing patterns, a car manufacturer could post photos of challenging roadways, or a celebrity could post behind-the-scene shots that grant followers access to sights and scenes they’d never get to see otherwise, says Grugle.

PR professionals should seriously consider using the social network to complement client announcements and press releases, just as they do with Twitter and Facebook, says Jennifer DeAngelis, a PR account executive with InkHouse.

“If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then the visual imagery projected through Instagram translates well beyond a 140-character maximum,” says Grugle.

Tips and Suggestions for PR Pros Using Instagram:

1. Check Out Instagram’s Business Page, suggests Peters. Instagram for Businesses provides information on how to get started, examples of successful approaches, advertising and marketing opportunities, and more.

2. Consider Your Audience. “Are your brand’s fans using Instagram?” asks Kevin Dugan, veteran marketer with The Empower Group. “If your audience isn’t on Instagram, do you need to be?”

“Don’t just use Instagram to use it or because it’s positioned as ‘hot,'” agrees Peters. “Make sure that you’re giving your audience content that they want to see and interact with.”

3. Post Appropriate Content. “Understand why you want to use Instagram, how you’re going to use it, what you want to get out of it and how your audience uses it,” says Peters.

“Don’t forget that, while pictures are great, substance is critical,” stresses Dugan. “What are you trying to convey?”

4. Don’t Just Post — Interact, says Peters. Some of the most popular brands on Instagram use behind-the-scene photos, photo hunts or contests. For example, fashion retailer Free People integrates Instagram directly into their product pages.

5. Get Creative, says Dugan. “Optimize the content for the format and break out of traditional molds.” Here are a few examples of unique approaches:

Instagram is also often mistakenly overlooked for various types of announcements that a company might make, such as a new product, a new hire, an upcoming event or a recent award, says DeAngelis in her post How We Can Use Instagram in Public Relations.

Gracie

Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Dear Gracie is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Content Marketing Trends & the PR Connection

The most popular social channels for content marketing. Source: Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute.

Content Marketing World is underway, and PR Newswire has a large contingent on the ground.  Why?  Content marketing is a logical fit for our core customers.  Take a look at the most effective content marketing tactics, unveiled today by Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe) of the Content Marketing Institute:

1)      In-person events

2)      Case studies

3)      Videos

4)      Webinars/webcasts

5)      Email newsletters

6)      Blogs

7)      Articles on own web sites

8)      Research reports

9)      eBooks

10)   White papers

11)   Social media (not including blogs)

This list should look pretty familiar to most PR people.  We’ve all promoted our organization’s content at one time or another.   But have we thought about this content holistically, not as a piecemeal campaign, but as part of the universe of content deployed by your brand to attract and engage new audiences?

No?

You’re not alone.  Fact is, there is still a lot of powerful opportunity for marketers to learn from PR pros about audience targeting and engagement, and there’s plenty for PR pros to borrow from the marketing teams in terms of spicing up content.

Without a doubt , content marketing is gaining power and attention.  According to Joe, 54% of marketers are increasing their content marketing spend – to 31% of marketing budget this year, up from 26% in 2011.

So why is PR Newswire interested in content marketing?  Because distribution is a key component of content marketing.  Building distribution – reach to media, syndication to web sites and seeding of social media – into a content marketing plan will fuel your program, attract new, qualified audiences and improve your overall results.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

How Social Media Is Changing PR

On the last Tuesday of each month, ProfNet hosts ConnectChat, a monthly series of Twitter chats exploring key communications and media topics. During a recent ConnectChat, Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications, discussed the changing role of PR in the digital era and how we can adjust our mind and skill sets accordingly.

Breakenridge says that with the rise of social media PR professionals need to:

  • Master information technologies as a “technology tester,” including video, SEO, website analytics, monitoring applications, CMS and more.
  • Start dialogue and build relationships through new channels.
  • Strategize to connect directly with stakeholders, especially customers.

Breakenridge notes that being a technology tester is the most challenging new skill for PR pros to master because it requires constantly paying attention to new apps, resources and platforms. “It’s so important to understand use technology the way stakeholders,” she says.

To excel in these new practices, people in the PR industry need to become hybrid professionals, says Breakenridge. This process includes:

  • Moving the best of traditional practices forward and integrating them with digital and social communications.
  • Working cross-functionally with marketing and moving outside of the PR “silo,” which includes learning and applying marketing tactics.
  • Collaborating with other departments too, like Web/IT, sales, customer service, HR, etc.
  • Being flexible and adaptable in a global communications environment.

Breakenridge provides some new roles popping up in the PR industry:

  • Internal Collaboration Generator: knows good communication starts on the inside with technology sharing
  • Pre-Crisis Doctor: plans for crises through new approaches, processes and recovery steps
  • Relationship Analyzer: takes relationships to deeper levels through technology and visualization
  • Master of the Metrics: understands metrics tracked over time and can track them back to executive goals

To successfully use metrics, PR pros must have objectives and know what they are trying to achieve, adds Breakenridge. “It’s important to know what you’re measuring: leads, sales, registration, awareness (buzz), community growth, etc.”

Listen to conversations and identify influencers to drive discussion and systematically map out audience connections, explains Breakenridge. “Understand the culture, critical issues and passion in the community to make better connections. Use crowdsourcing, contests, and promotions for deeper engagement.” She notes that you can use @mentionmapp and @TouchGraph to visualize connections.

Social media provides incredible intelligence, and, when filtered, can help PR pros plan more strategically, says Breakenridge. For example, social media can help companies react quicker to negative situations and crises. “You can strategically engage for more valuable outcomes: leads, sales, registration, better CS, more productivity.”

Social media should move across an organization, says Breakenridge. PR should work with other departments (marketing, advertising, branding, etc.); it should cover everything from social governance and planning to content curation and the monitoring of programs. PR should spearhead social media, but not own it. “Working with other groups doesn’t mean we lose our core purpose; we have just expanded our opportunity!” she says.

Where is PR headed? Breakenridge says PR will:

  • Continue to integrate with other areas and strategize cross functionally.
  • Start incorporating interactive living rooms, touch experience, augmented reality, etc.
  • Gain influence by telling more meaningful stories through technology and educating others on best practices.

Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet. Check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.