The New Face Of Public Relations: Tricks And Tools Of Today’s Practitioner
Have you tapped into the marketing prowess of your PR team? Columnist Maggie Malek explains why today's public relations pros, along with new tools, can give your marketing strategy a leg up.
The battle to earn consumers’ attention is on. But it’s not going to be won in a display ad or in the search box. It’s not going to be won on television or via in-store signage. It’s going to be won by brands that stop shouting at their consumers and start having conversations with them.
And you know what that means? It’s time to take a closer look at the role public relations plays within your organization.
Why? Because in an era of ads that can be skipped, blocked and ignored, those who are experts at creating authentic conversations with real people are the ones who need to have a seat at your marketing table.
As a person who started her career in traditional public relations, I’ve heard plenty of arguments against the practice, including: “Public relations is boring, with all those press releases and media pitches.” But the people who make that argument just don’t get what we do.
We are communicators. We are listeners. We are storytellers. We are advocates for our brands, but also for the people they serve.
After all, by the very definition of public relations, our number one job is building relationships between our brands and those very people. This is why brands need us. And there’s nothing boring about any of that!
Plus, we have a very different face today than we did 15 years ago.
Today’s public relations practitioner does far more than “just” pitching media. She fuses together her knowledge of people, technology, data and design to tell the perfect story.
She knows every single little thing there is to know about the brand that she manages, but she also knows every little thing about the people her brand is trying to reach. She knows what motivates them, how they think and feel, and what social media networks they love to use.
And not only does she understand these people, she actually likes them. That’s another reason brands need us.
The New Tools Of The Trade
Today’s PR pro has an amazing arsenal of tools available to her to tell a story inside and out. She understands how a story can translate from a media pitch to an Instagram post to a direct message on Facebook Messenger.
She also knows that she can only control her message for so long until it takes on a life of its own, so it must be engineered perfectly. Here are a few of the things she uses to help get the job done.
1. Search Data: Aka “information gold mine.” Starting your research with search information is crucial. Our search box is the first location most people go to when seeking information about our brands.
By looking at the keywords people use to find that information, we can refine our messaging. Think of search data as your global consumer panel; people are literally telling you what they want to know. SEMrush and BrightEdge are both great resources for mining search data.
Google Trends can shine a spotlight on exactly when and what people are talking about both globally and locally, enabling you to be hyper-targeted when telling your tale. Google News also provides a consistent stream of top-of-the-second news that, if monitored properly, gives brands opportunities to react in real time to things happening around the world.
3. Social Listening And Monitoring: Social media is a big beast. Tools that help keep you organized and your finger on the pulse of what is happening with your brand are crucial.
For example, Sprout Social enables you to maintain your current community, respond in real time when there are issues and identify opportunities to spread your brand’s message further. I have used and vetted many monitoring tools for clients, and I do have to say that Sprout wins for me every time.
4. Specialized Analytics Platforms: Data rules, but there is so much of it, especially when you are integrating data from search, social and the digital world at large. At my agency, we use KNIME to help streamline, optimize, integrate and analyze complex data sets more easily, deeply and accurately to uncover actionable insights.
We decide what data is important to us and then pull it using KNIME. We then feed the data into Spotfire for our public relations, social media and brand managers to digest quickly.
At its core, public relations is all about earning attention for a brand in the moments that matter to people. We public relations practitioners live to create stories that will inspire people to act, share and create positive relationships with brands.
And with the technologies, social channels and information available to us today, our storytelling skills and outreach have gotten more refined.
Next time you’re planning a new marketing initiative for your brand, make sure you invite the public relations team to the meeting.
Their storytelling abilities, now amplified with more data than ever and backed by the power of social media, can skyrocket your brand’s marketing efforts to the next level.