Jokes about PR have always been around since I started in the industry years ago, whether it was a quick gag about a vol au vent on a silver tray or a TV series called Absolutely Fabulous. But anyone who has actually worked in the PR industry over the last few years will know that there has always been so much more to this marketing discipline than just holding a hospitality event or entertaining journalists with canapés and champagne.
In actual fact PR has always been about identifying your client’s key target audiences, and then delivering agreed and strategic messages and editorial content to the media and other channels that would reach and influence them the most.
Traditionally this would include everything from TV and radio through to nationals and regional newspapers and lifestyle magazines and trade publications. Direct engagement with key decision makers was also a core part of any programme with events from launch events and seminars and conferences being held to enable clients to engage in a direct dialogue with VIPs, from buyers to trade bodies and community groups.
Across all this activity the challenge was always to communicate the client’s messages in a convincing and high impact way, to create interest with the target groups and of course deliver branded editorial coverage as well.
When you look at today’s social media marketing challenges for businesses it is no surprise that PR professionals have stepped effortlessly into running social media programmes along with their standard PR activity, developing messages and content for clients which are then communicated to social media platforms and traditional media simultaneously.
After the initial rush a few years ago when many companies posted up any available content, most of us now realise that to make any sort of impact online or “sticky” engagement with target audiences, you need to invest in relevant, quality and topical content. PR professionals have been doing this for many years and so are supremely qualified to carry this out. They are adept at taking a company’s industry data, turn it into a topical industry report to generate media coverage and online shares or identifying a key topic that is trending, develop some commentary angles so their client is then interviewed as a leading expert in the field. They can take clients on a communications journey through the social media jungle of today, by developing relevant messages and content and then launching this to all the relevant channels, from traditional media outlets to social media platforms.
This is why I believe that the term Public Relations has never actually been more meaningful. Whatever part of the “public” a business is now trying to reach, the key is to communicate to these audiences with good targeted messaging and insightful thought leadership content to generate good “relations”.
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