Public relations does not work the way it used to: companies are trading boring news releases in traditional newspapers for educational articles in online publications.
Audiences value authenticity over promotion, and they now see more content in a day than they can read in a year.
It falls to PR leaders to convince consumers that their content is worth consuming.
To facilitate this, public relations and marketing are working together.
A recent study from The Holmes Report details how this partnership has evolved and what companies should do to navigate the changing landscape.
The Future of PR
According to that report, almost 90 percent of PR execs believe the term “public relations” will not accurately characterize the job they will be doing in five years’ time.
With change coming quickly, what will modern PR look like, and how can companies prepare to meet evolving audience needs?
This same study also found that 47 percent of PR professionals and 61 percent of marketers believe PR will “become more closely aligned” with marketing over the same period.
Now, none of this means marketing will absorb PR or that it will disappear.
These trends simply suggest that PR professionals must re-evaluate how they engage audiences and boost brand image.
They can do this by starting with the narratives they share and the tactics they use to do it.
Why is PR Changing Now?
Audience demand for authenticity is changing everything.
No one enjoys being on the receiving end of a sales pitch.
In an online world overflowing with content, audiences are now adept at recognizing material which doesn’t serve them and ignoring it.
Journalists, editors, and other media professionals have developed this skill, too.
Many media contacts who published press releases (or promotional articles based on them) in the past no longer want to do so.
Because their audience does not want to read them.
Publications live or die according to audience engagement.
If a piece is not engaging, it does not go live.
The demand for true value and authenticity has contributed to the rise in content marketing over the past few years.
The audience wants a relationship with brands they trust and whose values align with theirs.
Content is a powerful tool for building those relationships.
And as marketing and PR begin to align, modern PR tactics will need to work alongside classic content marketing techniques to create the kind of material helpful to your brand and your audience.
Public Relations and Marketing Must Work Together
Throwing PR teams and marketing teams into a room together is not the solution.
This approach will probably lead to more arguments about the Oxford comma than meaningful results (at least in the beginning).
These teams should work together, not just next to one another.
They share similar goals of building the brand and engaging audiences.
And their complementary skills allow them to collaborate on rich, engaging content that drives results.
Here are two things to remember as you prepare to merge your marketing and PR teams into one powerhouse department:
Adopt a Value-driven Content Strategy
Content marketing is an effective, easily scalable, and measurable strategy for reaching audiences and providing value to them.
It is the fuel that powers your other marketing efforts.
Consumers today do not trust brands which stay in the shadows, keeping their insights and ideas to themselves.
To address this issue, content marketers must focus on creating strong, high-quality content.
Then, take that content further by getting in front of the audiences of niche publications and establishing company leaders as industry experts.
This is where PR comes in.
The two functions complement each other perfectly.
PR reaches new audiences and builds company credibility through third-party validation.
Content marketing keeps those audiences engaged with the brand through consistent content.
PR can even use the content that marketing creates to assist in media outreach.
Together, public relations and marketing departments can accomplish goals more effectively.
And the audience receives relevant content in places where they are ready to consume it.
Rely on Relational, Not Transactional, Tactics
This value-driven approach means PR professionals do not need to pitch promotional press releases to contacts to put their brands in the spotlight.
Instead, PR pros should identify the niche influencers, journalists, publication editors, thought leaders, reporters, and online contributors who speak to their target audiences—then form relationships with them.
Audiences trust publications that help them stay up-to-date on the latest trends and news in their areas of interest.
Once they have discovered what type of content publications want, PR professionals and marketers can help their media contacts meet that demand: by pitching story ideas they know will engage readers.
This alignment of public relations and marketing will not happen overnight, but change is already underway.
By putting audiences first and cultivating valuable relationships with the right media contacts, they can create revenue-driving teams greater than the sum of their parts.