The Public Relations Revolution: Not All Doom and Gloom

By Chelsea Lindner

Many experts believe public relations is a dying profession because of the way it has transformed in recent years. While the industry is changing to keep up with accelerated technology and shrinking newsrooms, it is at no risk of extinction.

The Emergence of Social Media

Social media has become one of the fastest-growing strategies for brands to create awareness, tell stories, and give themselves a “personality.”

Look at the social media accounts. Twitter especially – of some of the biggest brands, you will see an abundance of creative graphics, snubs at their competitors, and overall more engaging content.

A more recent trend, for example, is some of the world’s biggest fast-food chains battling back and forth on the platform about who has the best burgers. This content tends to be lighthearted and entertaining for consumers.

This speaks to the way companies are trying to position themselves amongst their competitors and give their brands more character. However, these companies still need to tread lightly and be aware of their audiences, as one minor mistake could lead to a controversy that the brand then has to respond to. These catastrophes can be avoided with the help of an internal or external team of PR professionals.

With social media, brands have more channels to express themselves but also an increased risk of getting into hot water, which means it’s critical to have experts that can help prevent these situations and be able to repair them if they do occur.

Enhanced Skillset and Lower Costs

Along with the expansion of PR strategies afforded to companies, there is an added factor in the skillset a PR specialist must possess. We have begun to see that experts must be well-rounded, and essentially, those who work in the industry are becoming writers, reporters, editors, and much more. They must be skilled and quick with language communication through all types of mediums.

In addition, more companies want to see the ROI of their PR efforts, meaning professionals now have to work harder and be able to prove their strategies are effective.

While this seems like a lot, it’s actually a win-win for both businesses and the professionals themselves. Companies are saving money by having an all-in-one team comprised of individuals that are creative, can produce good content, and can measure success. Professionals are gaining a wide range of skills that can be useful in taking their careers to the next level or even when considering pursuing a career in a different industry.

PR and Marketing Will Remain Separate (While Working Together)

Many seasoned PR and marketing professionals believe that in the revolution we’re undergoing, marketing/advertising and PR will begin to merge into one industry.

While these lines may begin to blur, it’s safe to say that for the foreseeable future they will remain separate. These industries are vastly different and therefore require two different skill sets. The most common difference is that media relations are “earned media,” and marketing is “paid media.”

Although the two are very targeted approaches, what works in a digital marketing campaign may either 1) not be able to be implemented into a PR strategy and 2), if it can be, may not be as successful.

Additionally, the tactics aspects of storytelling are very different when you look at marketing and advertising, and media relations. When speaking with professionals from these different industries, you may find some similarities. Still, the mindset as a whole will likely be different, providing proof that while both of these are critical, they will remain separate.

A Google search will show hundreds of results from experts on how and why they believe the PR is at risk and “a dying breed.” While these experts may have valid opinions, none of us know what the future holds. It’s essential to look at this revolution in how it’s positively impacting the industry and brands and the exciting things to come instead of undermining the importance and effectiveness of this profession.