Public Relations is your company's backbone.
PR delivers your brand's message in way that keeps the public informed and allows you to have control.
Changes to Today's PR: Traditional versus Digital
Mass press releases and emails, alongside print journalism, was how companies initially shared their message. These traditional messages are still being consumed in some form, however that world has made its way into the digital sphere.
Digital PR has taken the reigns and companies deliver their core media through websites, blogs, and social media. Either using a brand's established channel or partnering with a digital influencer and piggybacking on their established audience, these channels are the medium to distribute your brand message.
It's not just about expecting people to read what you write; you must attract their attention, use influencers, understand SEO, and create a tone that resonates with your audience.
Two Excellent Examples of Companies That Understand Digital PR
Companies have made the shift toward focusing on the use of the digital media for delivering their message. Some big-name brands have successfully harnessed the power of digital PR and created a strategy that speaks to their brand.
Take Coldplay for example. Not what you'd initially think of, Coldplay has established quite a foothold in the music industry and certainly qualifies as a big business, if not a "company" in the traditional sense. Regardless, the band built anticipation by announcing their upcoming 2014 release "Ghost Stories" by hiding lyric sheets to new songs in ghost stories found in 9 different libraries around the world. They would then tweet where the sheets could be found and fans had to track them down. This leveraged the online community, and the stunt generated massive attention for their upcoming album.
IKEA is another example. They went the "surprise" route, offering up a completely different approach by acknowledging the stereotype that wives love IKEA and their husbands hate going with them. PR has been generally about accentuating the positives and this company connected using humour – through a series of emoticons designed to prevent breakups, while slyly incorporating items found in their stores. These emoticons, coinciding with the off-brand offering of marrying people through webcam, garnered the attention of big news sites, like CNET, Cosmopolitan, PC Mag, and ABC News.
4 Steps to a Better PR Strategy for Today's Digital Audience
1. Understand Search Engine Optimization
You must understand how SEO works to attract search engines, who in turn send readers to your company's content when searching for related keywords. "You won't succeed without focusing your efforts on positioning your business, and your associated websites, so that they rank for relevant search terms," says Mel Carson at Entrepreneur.
2. Focus on Tone
The tone of today's PR has changed. Formal communications are slowly dissipating, being replaced by a more "real" connection founded on emotional connections and bonds. Information about product offerings isn't enough anymore. You must inspire, motivate, and get people interested in your brand's humanity and expertise.
3. Work on Contributed and Byline Articles
Contributed articles or bylined pieces create exposure and help establish a brand as an expert.
This requires your company to reach out to newspapers, websites, and magazines that target your audience and are relevant to your industry.
You must focus on media outlets that sync with your business objectives as well, creating a buzz around your brand through intelligent content in trusted publications.
4. Inject Influencers into PR Campaigns
Influencers are important in today's digital PR world.
This form of marketing focuses on specific individuals rather than your entire target market.
To do this right, you must focus on those that can influence the decisions of others. The influencer could be testimonials about your services, or value-added influencers like industry analysists, advisers, and journalists.
Consider these individuals your conduit to your entire market segment. They may be a single person or small category within your target audience, but when you use them correctly, they will influence the your target market based on the trust they've established with an audience made up of the people you're looking to reach.
Stop Thinking of Yesterday's Tactics, Think About Tomorrow's
Now is the time to focus on the tactics that attract tomorrow's customer. People want to feel as though your brand is there with them, understands them, and cares about them. Your PR campaigns no longer focus on churning out facts about upcoming events and sales; instead, it is about creating awareness and delivering your brand's core message to a waiting audience.