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Traditional PR doesn’t work anymore

By Jason Mudd

typewriter20 ways PR has changed for 2020

Public relations is, at its core, a way for companies and brands to build mutually beneficial relationships with their audiences and customers. To be sure, traditional PR still has a place at the table. Everything from influencing public perception with outstanding marketing campaigns and developing effective crisis communication strategies to holding news conferences and organizing successful events falls under the umbrella of traditional PR.


However, traditional PR is no longer enough.


PR is rapidly evolving, thanks mostly to the dawn of the digital age and the birth of the 24-hour news cycle. Now, an advanced form of PR thrives, and it’s based on digital methods of communicating and sharing. Bottom line: It’s crucial for your business to be firmly engaged in digital PR.


Are you working with a PR firm that understands how to blend the old with the new? Here’s a checklist to help you determine if your agency is up to scratch:


Digital PR


1. You can’t do great PR without understanding digital PR.

Brands must act like media companies and PR must provide the channels to broadcast the content. Today, people turn to social media and news sites instead of reading the print news.


2. You must stay on top of new technology.

You have to keep up with your audiences and know the new technology they’re using. Adopt those platforms early and capture new members before the competition arrives. This is also how you can make sure your content is always easily accessible from anywhere.


3. Inbound marketing is the future of PR.

The days of cold calling are over. Inbound marketing focuses on attracting your target audiences by providing valuable content and resources.


4. Embrace AI in the PR space.

Leverage artificial intelligence to help you become smarter and more efficient by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Thanks to AI, PR pros can spend more time advising clients, learning their companies, and helping them grow.


Media relations


5. You must build relationships – with journalists and with your audiences.

Focus on giving reporters great stories, not just touting your company. The marketplace is crowded and noisy; you won’t stand out if you’re sending one-way messages into the void.


6. PR isn’t a 9-to-5 job.

PR must be fast, flexible and nimble because the 24-hour news cycle never stops. Reporters and civilians alike use smartphones to their advantage to capture visuals to share – they no longer need a photographer to capture breaking news. Apps like Stringr allow anyone to capture video for news outlets and other uses. When breaking news happens, localize your position on national news whenever you’re able.


7. You must demonstrate that your company cares.

If you want to stand out and elevate your company in the eyes of consumers and the media, you have to be people-driven first. PR will fail you if you’re only profit-driven.


8. Trust and transparency are absolutely mandatory.

PR requires transparency. Make a false statement in the news, and you can be sure an employee will post comments calling you out and reporters will dig up the truth.


Social media


9. The power of global social media has made the world a small town again.

You can’t approach PR impersonally anymore. There must be engagement – especially with social influencers, who are important and can change buying behaviors.


10. Social media has given consumers a voice.

News stories now support reader comments, and people share, tweet and screenshot these comments as much as the stories. Sometimes, a comment becomes a news story in its own right. All media is a conversation and you have to listen to your audience’s feedback so you can improve.


11. Leverage visuals – photos, videos, GIFS and infographics.

High-quality visuals are the best way to draw people to your content. While that has always been true, it’s more critical now than ever.




12. Measurement is a mandatory component of successful PR.

Most PR traditionalists don’t know how to measure and don’t want to. However, you can’t just rely on media clips, AVEs and impressions when there are so many more ways to measure awareness. Planning ahead and measuring your progress proves that your PR efforts are on the right track.


13. “I hate math” doesn’t cut it anymore.

For decades, people with an interest in marketing went into PR because they didn’t like math and didn’t want to talk about numbers. That mindset doesn’t work today. PR is a measurement sport, and to be competitive, you must embrace numbers to prove your success. Planning strategically and setting SMART goals are the first steps.


14. Clients expect great work and they'll measure your work on your outcomes.

PR people are often focused on great outputs, style and grammar, yet clients don’t pay as much attention to the quality of small details as their PR people do. They simply expect their trusted PR pros to know how to create high-quality outputs and to use them to earn great outcomes. Companies want to frame a terrific cover story on the wall, not a terrific news release.




15. The internet can tarnish your reputation instantly.

In this current sensitive climate, one small mistake or simple misinterpretation can go viral quickly and ruin your company’s reputation. If you’re speaking in public, giving an interview or tweeting, the internet allows for real-time fact checking and questioning and will take pains to verify every statement you make.


16. Online reviews are essential for every company.

Publicity isn’t enough now – consumers have myriad options and they research each before they buy. You need to deliver on your claims and provide great customer experiences. Review management software helps you manage and promote your reviews.


17. Delight your customers.

Create positive experiences with your customers by exceeding their expectations. Engage with them on social media, whether they leave a positive or negative comment. It’s crucial to respond to every comment, since others are watching to see how you engage with customers and how you handle complaints. Thank your customers for their positive reviews or recommendations and try to turn a negative review into a positive. Work with unhappy customers to make amends; they’ll appreciate your responsiveness.


Other considerations


18. Companies are looking for good business people who specialize in PR.

Having a business acumen is critical to being a good partner. If your PR efforts aren’t supporting an overarching business objective, your clients won’t value your efforts and you can’t sustain them.


19. PR must have the wow factor.

People’s attention spans keep getting shorter. You only have three seconds to wow your audiences and the news media before they move on. Creativity and originality are crucial in a crowded and competitive marketplace.


20. Paying by the hour is old-school.

Too many agencies are billing hourly. The issue with hourly billing is that it rewards slow work and penalizes quick results. Companies get a better ROI if the PR investment is focused on value and scope, not time.


It's time to ditch your mom’s PR firm.


Join us in the 21st century. Hire Axia Public Relations for your company’s PR needs in 2020 and beyond.

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Mudd,_Jason_Color_hi_res_forwardClients love Jason’s passion, candor and commitment as well as the team he has formed at Axia Public Relations. He’s advised some of America’s most admired brands, including American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Hilton, HP, Pizza Hut and Verizon. He is an Emmy Award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur and earned his certification in inbound marketing. He founded the PR firm in July 2002. Learn more about Jason.


Featured photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Topics: public relations, inbound marketing

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