2019 PR Forecast: It’s Not Fake News, PR is Changing
As audiences evolve and the needs of our clients change, the work of ZG’s PR team follows suit. At its heart, the goal of PR is to help our clients protect and maintain a positive image in the public eye. Sometimes we create that image. Sometimes we introduce it. Often, we teach our clients how to make it happen.
In the coming year, those things won’t change. But 2019 will see some enhancements in how we track the reach and impact of our efforts.
Thought Leadership Rules
Call it personal branding or thought leadership, but the fact remains that establishing credibility and connection within the digital space is more important than ever.
This is part of the reason why we make it a priority to help our clients identify which leaders will serve as spokespeople for the organization, and help prep them to tell the brand’s story – as well as their own. Your audience knows you have expertise and they want to hear it.
Clients Demand Results
You can tell your client that you pitched their story to hundreds of reporters, but unless they can see real, tangible results in the form of published press mentions, you’re going to have a hard time pitching your continued relationship come contract renewal time.
While, yes, pitching is key to getting results, get results. Present those results. Make sure those results are understood and presented in a way that means something to your client. We round up our results to show clients exactly what they got in return for their investment in our PR expertise and efforts, complete with visuals of the coverage and links to news videos.
Smarter Search Means More Opportunity
As PR moves toward digital, SEO strategy and PR strategy converge, particularly in the form of linkless mentions. I’ll let my colleague tell you more about how AI is improving context-based search, but what it means for PR is that content quality and the value it brings to your audience is starting to carry more weight than a gratuitous link in a mention.
While paying for a linkback and mention is effective, and has a time and place in marketing, the value of earned coverage continues to grow. In a society where our audiences are turning more to word-of-mouth referrals from friends and relying on hivemind mentality, quality is edging up on quantity when it comes to mentions.
Fighting Fake News
As a recent article on Inc.com pointed out, fake news (real and perceived) has seriously affected the public’s trust in the in the media in general. “For the first time, media is the least-trusted institution, but there is a rise in trust in one important area: experts. In fact, trust in technical experts, CEOs, and successful entrepreneurs has risen since 2017.”
It’s not fake news that we live in turbulent times for the media. The best we can do as PR professionals is maintain trust between an organization and its audience. This is where the personal branding of your business leaders comes in. The audience may not always trust the news medium, but make sure your spokesperson is the trustworthy expert they can count on.
PR Goes Digital
If there’s one thread that ties all of these trends together, it’s that the increasingly digital world has changed the way we approach public relations.
It’s not just a “royal we,” either. Within ZG, PR has turned into a collaborative practice. We’re working with our colleagues to incorporate keywords into our media releases to benefit SEO. We’re including backlinks, as well, so we can determine whether those releases drive web traffic – whether to an existing website or a new site or landing page created by our development team. If that landing page houses the new look and feel of the message, not to mention all the good information the company wants to share, we want to be sure our PR efforts are leading the audience there.
Not only is this blurring of lines in the digital space making us more collaborative, it’s creating real, measurable results, too. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working to revamp our analytics so we can give clients more information about who we are reaching with our PR efforts, how they’re being reached, when they’re being reached and what they’re doing with the information. The more we can learn about the actions of our audience, the more we can tailor our outreach to maximize the impact.
With a thoughtful, integrated approach to PR, we can better help our clients build and keep their positive public image, no matter how wide (or worldwide) that public eye gets.
Want More Insight?
Read about our other 2019 predictions throughout the months of December and January.