How has Public Relations adapted to the Digital Media Landscape?

My next blog post is an evaluation of how Public Relations has adapted to the Digital Media landscape…

“It is inevitable that as traditional media continues to fragment because of technological change, and consumer behaviour becomes increasingly participatory, that organisations must change how they communicate. (Earl and Waddington 2012)” 

Since studying PR I have come to realise that it is much more diverse than people may think, having to adapt in various ways due to digital media constantly changing. With this revolution of media, it is essential for all PR professionals to understand the media landscape. Over the year’s social media has had a huge effect on public relations, creating new opportunities and challenges for brands.

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With the revolution of Public Relations, many have questioned the importance of press releases in todays society. Are they still an integral part of the news cycle, or are their best years behind them? However, like Stephen Waddington said, we cannot support the claim which states that ‘the press release is dead’. We should instead recognise that communication is changing and adapt to it, at the end of the day press coverage is still the main goal, right? The successful press releases are now the ones that have been kept alive by being amended to suit our digital media led industry.

Two-way communication:

The rise of social media has also led to an increase of two-way communication. PR professionals are now able to connect with their audiences at any time on a more personal level. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn are just a few o many social media platforms that are available for consumers to express themselves on. This means that they can gain conversation, interaction, feedback and trust. Social media has bought huge opportunities to brands but only when used carefully and strategically. It is therefore nowadays seen as a vital digital media platform for any PR professional to consider when developing a successful public relations campaign or strategy. Brands now have the opportunity to reach consumers on a variety of channels. Whether its through an engaging Facebook post or touching YouTube video, each channel offers a different platform for brands to share their content with consumers. These channels can help contribute to a brands overall personality and help consumers feel a deeper, personal connection with brands. However, it’s a two-way relationship. Social media also gives consumers the opportunity to engage with their favourite brands. For example, they can “like”, “comment”, “favourite” or “retweet” brand messages, which can also help to spread awareness. It allows for practitioners to receive feedback and be able to determine how successful their campaign has been. This type of feedback would not have been possible to obtain from tradition PR tools, unless follow-up feedback was requested which was a lot more time consuming

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PR practitioners can now use a number of tools which are able to give them statistics on how successfully their strategy may or may not be. Google Analytics is a powerful universal analytics platform that can provide PR practitioners with valuable insight into the economic contribution made by their social media activity. With little effort, PR practitioners can start to gain greater insight into what elements of their campaigns really do deliver real value.

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On the other hand, social media also gives consumers a powerful voice to express criticism and share negative experiences. The general transparency of social media means that complaints are visible to the media and other consumers. Brands therefore must respond quickly and effectively to prevent these complaints from escalating.

24/7 engagement:

Social media now allows customers to engage with brands at any time and its up to PR practitioners to facilitate constant engagement. This however, has raised expectations of customer service. The days are gone where consumers could only interact with brands during business hours, especially on Twitter. Twitter has become a platform that has transformed the way we consumers can get our complaints and questions heard. Social media has given everyone with access to the internet a voice, which means brands need to make sure they keep on top of the constant and immediate stream of information that consumers are sending out about them. Consumers like myself want a quick response when we are unhappy with something, or need some help. According to an Edison study, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour, and 32% think it should be within 30 minutes. This shows exactly how effective social media platforms like Twitter can be at giving people a voice, and how brands now have to adapt aspects of their business such as customer service to fit the ever evolving digital media landscape.

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Citizen journalism:

Traditional journalism is no longer the publics source of information, now social media has even gone as far as giving the public the power to be the journalists. It has created powerful influencers for brands and public relations professionals to collaborate with. Not only are brands pitching traditional media outlets, but they are also using key influencers to promote their products and services to their target audiences. Social media has therefore created more contacts for brands to work with such as, bloggers, vloggers, contributors, experts, and spokespeople. Brands that have collaborated with these types of influencers have created meaningful relationships with these contacts and created impactful campaigns.

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Creating unique and engaging content:

Audiences now have access to a huge amount of news and information which means that practioners need to adapt their content to influence their audiences more effectively. With huge array of content being created online, it’s even harder to stand out. Which is why content marketing needs PR behind it to thrive, as unless your content is being seen by potential customers, it will be doing nothing. Integrating the two allows organisations to push through the ‘clutter of noise’ and successfully reach their target audiences One effective technique which seems to dominate strategy is user generated content. According to Mary Meeker’s 2015 internet trends report, UGC is exploding across all media platforms. Facebook users watch more than four billion videos a day, up 33% from last year.

The future of PR is much more about creating content and sharing it across various digital platforms ensuring that we are engaging with the right audiences at the right time. By using both traditional and digital PR tactics together PR professionals can develop a much more cohesive campaign or strategy. Thanks to these advances in technology, social media is just the start of a new wave of news accessibility and the PR industry is going to have to keep adapting and evolving in order to develop better campaigns and strategies. In my eyes this media landscape change is not a disruption but an innovation.

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