I was curious recently when someone said to me, “Isn’t public relations a dying industry?” At my agency, PR has always been alive and well — and impactful. I thought about why someone would think this, so I Googled it and found many people are asking that same question.
But the answer is always the same — PR is not dead; it just looks different. According to a 2021 Statista report, the global PR market is worth more than $97 billion, up from $88 billion in 2020, and it is expected to grow to $129 billion by 2025.
Traditionally, PR strategies included distributing press releases, pitches and public service announcements to newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations to try to get free mentions and articles. With the rise of the internet, however, we have seen the number publications and journalists dwindle, but there are multitudes of freelance journalists and bloggers. And because of the internet and social media, there are many more ways to connect.
Don’t get me wrong; press releases and pitches are still crucial to any PR strategy, but they are just one part of a marketing mix. If PR is not included in that mix, you risk loss of exposure and trust in your brand. PR generates credible results because people know you did not pay for the exposure, you earned it. That’s why it is called earned media.
■ PR is about relationships. It is not enough to simply mass email a press release or pitch. You need to know who would be interested in your story and why. The best way to get to know editors, producers and reporters and build relationships is to follow and engage with them on social media. Invite them for coffee or a cocktail. Once you have established a relationship and built trust, you can pitch stories with a quick call, text or social media mention, and you will be the person they contact when they are working on a story in your area of expertise.
■ Be your own media company. PR is combating major changes to media outlets, but each of us can be our own media company by creating and sharing valuable content. We can all publish blogs, e-books, white papers and articles and connect with our customers through social media. Also consider producing your own podcast. It used to be something that only radio stations did, but now anyone can do it.
■ Cut through the clutter to stand out. Journalists are overwhelmed. You need to find new ways to stand out. Consider less obvious forms of PR, like speaking engagements, articles in trade publications and opinion pieces such as op-ed columns or letters to the editor. These provide an opportunity to promote your brand, show your expertise and position yourself and your company as thought leaders.
Public relations is and has always been one of the most cost-effective and flexible marketing tactics. PR is not dead but has been reborn. It has adapted and is thriving and can help your business do the same. ●
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST