PR-Trends-2016Here we are more than halfway through 2016 (how the heck did that happen?) and I have been thinking about how much the world of thought leadership and public relations has changed over the last couple of years.

Client’s needs have changed, publications and media outlets continue to evolve with a shift away from traditional media consumption, and social media continues to dominate how we communicate. At the same time, more and more business executives see the value in establishing their role as a thought leader in their industry, elevating the importance of traditional public relations.

My last post covering trends in public relations is more than a year old, so I thought an update was in order. What remains the same is that PR pros will need to change how they pitch stories and work hard to find new ways to connect and make our clients relevant.

Here are a couple of the major trends impacting the ever-evolving world of PR:

The Diminished Role of the Good Ole Press Release. My feeling is that press releases still do hold some value, primarily to disseminate news. But, they need to be short and engaging to remain relevant and should include visual content to engage reporters and editors. I love using a press package (no, not printed press kit), but a short release coupled with a video, infographic, datagram or other visual element.

I read a recent Forbes article by John Hall where he agrees that “The age of the standard press release is no more.” I couldn’t agree more that we need to utilize new and different ways of getting reporters interested in the news at hand or the expertise of our client. Developing relationships with the reporter and utilizing social media is a good way to go.

The Power of a Phone Call! It surprises me how many companies still rely heavily on email communications and wire service distribution to share their news and updates. In today’s cluttered electronic environment (how many unopened emails are there in your inbox right now?) this just won’t fly.

In launching a program for a new Client recently, I reached out to select reporters via phone – yes phone! While younger PR reps are most adept at electronic communications, my feeling is that skipping the personal interaction of a phone call is a big miss. Most PR folks today are more comfortable sending out an email, text or tweet and simply don’t want to “pick up the phone.” My approach may be old fashioned, but it cuts through the electronic clutter and can really help building relationships with key editors and reporters. I described a phone call as the “Original Word of Mouth” in another of my recent blogs.

Content First. The cornerstone to any strong thought leadership campaign is having the right kind of content to back up your point-of-view. Company executives are very interested in elevating their images and the messages of their company, but need to make sure they have the right kind of content to back up what they are saying. That content should be educational in nature, engaging, valuable and visual.

Visual Storytelling. Being able to tell a good story on behalf of our clients, and effectively selling that story to promote them, have always been the defining strengths of solid public relations. Today there is an even stronger need to embrace storytelling, in an easier to digest and visual way. Content has to be strategic and include visual elements in order to cut through the clutter.

Hyperlocal and Highly Customized Approach. With the proliferation of new outlets and venues for publishing content, it becomes more important for PR folks to dig deep and develop highly customized and personalized campaigns to find the most appropriate subset of a market and niche offerings.

Getting through to consumer media in today’s market is nearly impossible, unless you are promoting a new trending app like Pokémon Go or a company like Facebook. I have found that taking the time to dig in and find the nuance in your story for each individual consumer reporter is the only way to go.

Amplification is Crucial.  Once you get a story placed, you are far from done. Yes, it can take a lot to place a piece, but leveraging and amplifying your content is a must. Getting the right eyes on your content to spread and amplify it will extend your reach and the overall effect of your content.

It is clear that PR pros need to continue to find new and engaging ways to connect with the media and external audiences to keep our clients relevant. We also need to be strategic and proactive and take the time to plan and anticipate clients’ needs. What is new in your PR approach in today’s individualistic, on-demand, visual culture?

Pam Flores

Pam Flores

Pam is adept at fostering relationships with respected thought leaders and influencers. She has 20-plus years of experience in social engagement, media and blogger relations, thought leadership, community building and copywriting.