Op-Ed: Why traditional Public Relations are dead
Old school, traditional public relations practices are dead, and have been for sometime now. This is not a surprise to anyone who has been keeping up even marginally with the digital and social trends, as well as the audience fragmentation over the last few years.
Regardless of what you think on this debate on obsolescence, it is indisputable that the digital era is showing clear signs of impact on the PR industry.
When I launched Full Circle Communications more than a decade ago, I never labeled it as a public relations firm, because that is not what I set out to do (even though in my team there are licensed PR professionals, digital experts and journalists like myself).
I came up with a multidisciplinary media management firm that supported the growth of the marketing goals of our clients because, even back then, I wanted to engage with clients from a different standpoint.
With more than 20 years of journalistic work under my belt, I did not need to figure out what the changing landscape of the media needed; I knew because every time we work on a project I ask myself if the content and channels would be relevant to me, as a reporter.
If it’s a boring strategy to me, for sure it would be for my fellow reporters. This is the one thing has not changed: good content, a good story, is still key.
But I also looked around and saw that the “press kit strategy” would not cut it because we are dealing now with digital strategy, media relations, social media, segmented targets and direct engagement with the consumer, who nowadays doesn’t even need to read the news to engage with the client or product.
We have the PESO media marketing (Paid, Earned, Social and Owned media) and a myriad models and tools to look at. This is even more complex for our firm, since half of our accounts deal with crisis management.
That there are companies and individuals who, in this day and age, still think that sending a press release (to an ever-shrinking media landscape for clients that still think that their news are only valid on print media) and coordinating interviews will result in a successful media plan, is misguided.
This limited approach is passé and it’s time to insert yourself in the present scenario.
Case in point: you are reading this column right now probably from a computer screen, either on the NIMB site, or Facebook; it was surely reposted on LinkedIn or someone shared it with you and you are reading on a mobile or tablet device. It’s a form of media consumption that creates a completely different paradigm as how to manage the media for clients.
Because of this globalization of information sharing, it’s important that the messaging in media management, advertising, and internal and external communications be consistent.
It is our job to educate clients on this, and explain the new rules of engagement.
We cannot complain if a client does not understand this new landscape: it is our responsibility to show them the importance of online media outlets and virtual conversation and how it is key that the mix of tools that we use is consistent and perfectly tuned.
The SEO release
One of the most significant changes in media management is the death of the traditional press release and the necessity for a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) release. For sure, we still need to craft an interesting story and do networking with reporters, editors and influencers, but there many other considerations for developing an SEO release.
This includes writing catchy headlines with Google keyword searches in mind, optimizing content with targeted text, including links to drive traffic to a website and adding video or images to make shareability of your news more appealing.
Make the journalist’s job easier: help in any way you can with whatever they need. The press workforce is shrinking and they are more overloaded than ever. We also have to work with a whole new category of influencers, bloggers and online contributors, so the days of sending a press release, following it up and calling it a day, are over.
Whenever you develop a new piece of content, start with a press release or comprehensive text and use it as a base to generate multiple items at the same time, such as social messaging copy, Tweets, Facebook posts, Google+1 shares, LinkedIn comments, etc. Use a keyword analyzer tool for grading the potential performance of your release with search engines.
This is not bad news. In fact, it is great because we have more outlets at hand to send our message and valuable measurement tools that can make our work a more precise and effective one.
The challenge for the public relations industry (worldwide, not only in Puerto Rico) is not to cling to the past, but to evolve with these interesting times, and to build strong relationships and connections between clients, audiences and society as a whole. That is our new mission.