Things have changed a lot in PR. Traditional still stands – PR is still about telling the story of a brand, but this story can no longer be impersonal and void of meaning. Yet, not many companies grasp this concept. Many are still using terms that put-off the consumers, and they are still focused on selling a product, rather than offering an experience. And this is what needs to change. In fact, this is the new trend, the thing that makes brands like P&G truly great – their “Thank You Mom” campaigns are proof of creative modern PR.
There are a few principles good PR needs to follow, and the most important can be summarized in one short sentence: “Know your audience, know where to find it, and how to find it.” And before starting to broadcast the message, modern PR needs to ask the question: “Why do I need to find my audience?” Sure, depending on conjectures, there are many answers, all focused on ROI. In my experience, when you have an ROI-focused answer, one that makes you obsess over metrics, the best recipe for success is to go the other way: stop thinking about ROI, and start thinking about people. Put yourself in place of your audience: would you still buy the product you are promoting if you were not the one advocating it? And start the arguments from there.
It’s no longer enough to announce a new product. That product needs to fill a need – be it practical, or abstract.
Based on the interests of that audience, PR needs to provide the right experience. And it is hard, because all industries are highly competitive online. Basically, if PR fails to keep up with technology (as in smart phones, tablets, and wearables) and social media, it fails. Also, PR needs to understand the different facets of social media, and how to use every network for its purpose, creatively, without posting the same status update, ad nauseam, everywhere. This takes more effort, and creative genius, because saying the same thing in different ways to appeal to the users of each social network can be challenging. Instagram and Pinterest are highly visual; YouTube is video; Facebook works better for rich content, although there are situations where “like-baiting” works; Google + is an SEO booster; LinkedIn is for professional messages; and the list could go on.
PR requires more time, effort, and creativity than ever in the past, and there’s no turning back. PR adapts to its times, grows, and shifts. You still need to tell the right story, but the challenge is to find the right channel, and to adapt your story for each channel individually.