10 ways PR has changed.
In a world of thousands of media channels and front page headlines from an accidental tweet, can we just remind ourselves, what is PR?
The official definition: “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.”
The urban dictionary definition: “Pimping Rigorously” (E.g. She claims she’s in “PR” but has never identified a specific company name. I think she means pimping rigorously.)
And with that little thing called the Internet (and Silicon Valley) and the fact that our media industry (sadly) doesn’t resemble Mad Men any more, how has PR changed?
1. A press release will not cut it. Or maybe the word ‘press release’ has a completely different meaning now. It used to be a really boring essay with some fluffy words about a really EXCITING launch. Now that we all have extra short attention spans and like stuff like GIFs and 140 conversations, a press release should be a quick email and a link to something actually cool. Attaching an over-embellished Word document is ancient history. Make the subject line in the email chatty because I heard some people set up an automated deletion on any mail that detects “PR Release + Word document attachment.”
2. We’re all busy. Journalists are really busy. Triple-screening, article writing, life juggling, live reporting. As technology has evolved, so have people’s jobs, so why would anyone want to be briefed by someone they don’t know, about something they didn’t ask for, in a long-winded fashion via the telephone? Like Twitter Sales Guy @DaraNsar always says, people want #realtalk now (hey, how’s it going?) not ‘work talk’ (could we please converse at your earliest convenience).
3. News travels faster than before. For something to ‘relevant’ and ‘timely’ it has to have literally just happened not ‘happened a few days ago’. Don’t miss the boat.
4. People have a different relationship with print now. We want to read interesting news-worthy and concise stories on our way home from work. We will skim read anything that seems ‘sponsored’ or promoted. Targeting and relevancy is the future. Why piss everyone off with a random advertorial? Divide up your audiences and target them based on the information available, and give people what they actually want. Consumers are getting savvier and they know when they are trying to be told something, or sold something.
5. Sending people free shit doesn’t make people like you. Unfortunately there are actually rules in place now that means you can’t just send your journalists a massive hamper from Harrods and call it a day. Sometimes, (I’ve seen tweets from Journos on Twitter) it actually makes them pity you because you are giving away your brand’s dignity for free. Instead, make amazing talk-worthy content and get people contacting YOU for a sample and some more information.
6. Journalists get information from many other sources. They will gather their stories / site content from an array of social media platforms. PR’s who handle celebrity profiles must make sure these personal platforms are handled with care, but most magazines/papers will extract images straight from Instagram. Re-check what’s exclusive and what’s not.
7. It is crucial to be visual. The general public has never had a shorter attention span. We cannot watch YouTube videos longer than 3 minutes anymore, we want to talk in 140 characters, we text, tweet, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Draw something, Facebook message, IM, Google chat. We don’t read an envelope you sent in the mail which no decoration and a lot of random words about your ‘exciting exclusive launch with Mr-I’ve-never-heard-of-you.
8. PR is nothing without the Internet. Journalists are bloggers, bloggers are journalists. ‘Scanning the papers’ has be revolutionized by Google alerts. Let the news come to you. An offline PR event can be live streamed, live tweeted, live blogged – your guests can Google hang out. Your audience is online and they will not be broadcasted to. Many of your audience are creating content themselves and increasingly rebelling against what they feel they are being told to consume.
9. You have less control. Sounds scary but it’s cool. You can reach millions of people VERY QUICKLY. OK, one wrong tweet and you’re on the front page of the Metro – but you can also spread amazing, valuable, exciting messages like wildfire. Great ideas have never been so catchy.
10. Language is constantly changing.“Messaging” is still crucial, but we are becoming immune to commercial-chat and want to hear real words, from real people, in the way we speak to our own friends and colleagues. Fluffy press materials will go in one ear and out the other. Gotta start speaking social. (See again point 2).
Also, for fun, here’s a ‘then and now’ infographic on the changing ways of PR.
How I Grew Up Online
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic