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Public Relations in the Digital Age: What You Need to Know

Submitted by webmaster on Sat, 06/19/2021 - 19:35

The Internet has transformed PR.  Social media has expanded the channels used to engage with new audiences and build reputations.  Related changes include the reduction of print media — magazines and newspapers — and the widespread availability of Internet content that anyone can publish and access, including:

  • Blogs
  • eBooks and eNewsletters
  • LinkedIn articles
  • Social media
  • Video

None of those platforms require you to hire a middleman or woman to navigate them. Professional writers, editors and digital content managers often play a role, but many have succeeded without them. Strategically publishing content on one or more digital platforms is the fastest route to becoming a thought-leader (or someone that used to be called a “recognized authority”). The benefits to your reputation and career can be huge.

Content creation is the key to building a well-established profile in the mainstream media. If you run an organization, are pursuing philanthropic or fund-raising goals or are a specialist in a particular area or industry and you do not have a content publishing strategy, you are missing out on many of the opportunities PR can provide. This strategy can begin as simply as publishing text, videos or images on a social media site like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Strategic content-building

Here is one example. You want to publish an op-ed piece in a daily newspaper that reaches the constituency you aim to connect with. You submit it but it isn’t used. As an alternative way to reach readers, you could publish the piece as an article on your personal or organization’s blog or website, or on a high-ranking public blog platform like Medium. When it is live, you can share it with your connections on LinkedIn, tweet it to your followers, publish it on Facebook and email it with a personal note to the journalists who cover the topic you are writing about. From there, it will almost assuredly reach an audience. If it interests the journalists you share it with, that may lead to media coverage about your views or activities. Equally important, Google will index it and help other people who follow the topic find it online. That increases the likelihood that it will may be shared even more widely and found by more journalists who cover that topic.

Developing a content publishing strategy

The strategy we have just outlined is a content publishing strategy. It is a grassroots way to build PR from the ground up using digital media. Millions of people and organizations are doing it, including your top competitors. Unless you are an excellent writer, for it to work you need a professional writer or copyeditor to ensure your text is flawless. Such strategies can be used to build a strong, effective image that differentiates you or your organization from your peers. It can help you build an audience, attract more clients or supporters and attain goals like becoming a public speaker or publishing a book. Integrating content creation into your larger PR program will enable you to meet your long-term public relations goals in more comprehensive and rewarding ways. First, it is helpful to understand what hasn’t changed about PR.

Strategic public relations: the principals remain the same

The consolidation of print media has made it far more competitive to gain coverage in this sought-after space. Monthly magazines now have fewer pages, less advertising and fewer younger readers. But TV, including national news broadcasts, are featuring more grassroots and local news because of the ease of accessing videos that are taken by everyday citizens like us. Despite those changes, much still stays the same in public relations. First and foremost is the credibility you gain by being featured in a major media outlet. That credibility—and the enormous audiences that mainstream media platforms reach—explains why public relations experts and consultants continue to be in great demand. Here’s what you need to know if you seek fresh, new or larger media visibility. Like sales, successful publicity outreach — one aspect of PR — continues to rely on three actions.

Identify your goals. Where do you want to attain publicity?

Specify your audience. Who do you want to reach?

Select your media targets. What media outlets does your audience read/watch/connect with? Once those goals are established, create a strategic plan and timetable for the action steps necessary to implement the campaign. Then you need a compelling pitch. The pitch is the 10-second, three sentence, or quick paragraph that publicists use to interest a journalist in a potential story. The pitch is the reason they want to take a second look. Understanding what interests different writers and producers is essential. Having relationships with them helps. But an experienced publicist can sell a story or interview idea with a succinct, well-crafted pitch. Better, consider an influence marketing campaign. 

Try influence marketing

“Influence marketing” entails having your story told by bloggers, social media stars (as well as up-and-coming names), and writers who work in both niche and mainstream topic areas. Fohr is a subscription platform that allows you to create influencer marketing campaigns utilizing its database with over 50,000 influencers. You can view detailed demographic information about their followers, including where they are from, and how much money they make. You can also pull reports, conduct competitor research, and find stats on a hashtag, brand name, or interest. Depending on your level of engagement, you can create your focus list and pitch them, or Fohr will on your behalf. This, coupled with the rise of content, is what has replaced so much of what PR used to do.