With the right disruptive PR skills, a brand can adapt to a changing business environment. The term “disruptive innovation” has been around since the mid-1990s, and it has proven to be a powerful new way of thinking for companies thinking about innovation-driven growth. However, due to its core concepts being widely misunderstood and tactics misapplied, it has been criticized for its shortcomings, and some may believe that it has the danger “of becoming a victim of its success.”

The reality of disruption is that it can be seen as an opportunity for some and a threat to others. While it normal for people to dwell on the negative effects of disruption, the key to overcoming disruption is not to dwell on it but to figure out a solution. For businesses, disruption has entered it in the form of new communication methods, the emergence of new ideas and expectations, and changing trends. Today, companies need to blend traditional and modern PR tactics to reach their audiences in the most effective way possible at the right time with the right content.

In this article, we will look at:

  • What is disruption? 
  • How disruptive PR can help brands adapt to innovation
  • How to do disruptive PR

What is disruption? 

Before disruption reached the PR industry, it hit the business industry with full force, and many companies had to figure out how to cope with the change. Disruption is a radical change because of technology, gadgets, social media, and other innovations in products and services. As mentioned, it has caused many companies to change their business models, forced people to adapt to new communication methods, led to the emergence of new ideas and expectations, and has also prompted PR professionals to be creative and innovative with their content.

Digitalization has taken up a large part of people’s daily lives, which is why there is no surprise that the PR and marketing industries have also been changing. PR professionals have had to change the way they talk to their target audiences, the way they use channels, and the way they generate and distribute their content. While disruption has a negative connotation, it has also proven to help companies stay relevant. It has shifted how people are presented with information and through what platform.

An example of how technology and disruption have impacted the business world is Airbnb. Airbnb is an American vacation rental online marketplace company that offers rental services like lodging and tourism. Airbnb achieved what hotel conglomerate Hilton Hotels took 93 years to do through the power of technology in only 4 years.

Managing disruption all comes down to a business being relevant and having the ability to understand how advancements in technology affect the decision-making process and customer’s behaviour. In order to benefit from disruption, companies need to recognize that it opens them up to new opportunities. It is up to them to adapt to gain a competitive advantage.

The reason why disruptive innovations are made possible is their ability to help low-end or new-market footholds. Low-end footholds are when companies try to provide demanding customers with products and services continually evolving while paying less attention to less-demanding customers. Disruption helps these companies by opening up the possibility of offering low-end customers a good enough product. A new-market foothold is something scarce these days in a business market that is very highly saturated. But, it is when “disrupters” create a market where none exists and somehow find a way to turn potential customers into paying clients.

How disruptive PR can help brands adapt to innovation

Digital technology has changed the way we live our lives, from how we consume products and interact with loved ones to how we work and consume information. The digital age has caused public relations to remain relevant, primarily due to the way digital disruption has also impacted journalism.

The abundance of “fake news” and inaccuracy in news stories has caused PR professionals to take time to ensure content is accurate rather than pushing to be the first to publish a story online. The challenge that PR professionals face during this time is knowing the most effective strategies to get a story in front of journalists and media outlets.

A few PR professionals have stated that while the Internet and social media have transformed the PR industry, it presents a refreshing, challenging, and much more enjoyable task for them to get content distributed. Technological developments have pushed PR agencies to figure out ways to keep up with innovative services and tools while also using traditional PR.

To stay relevant in an industry filled with professionals trying to help companies achieve their media relations goals, brands need to think of new and modern solutions quickly, know what they want as well as the value they present to their clients.

Public relations on its own can’t be disruptive to businesses because it has to be integrated with a company’s business strategy. For success to be guaranteed, all departments with a company and the PR professionals’ goals should be aligned, coordinated, and have “one voice” when communicating with customers. If they don’t match or are not presented as a united front, it can be detrimental to a company’s reputation.

Whether companies plan to do this internally or outsource their PR efforts to a PR firm, they must understand how important it is to make disruptive PR part of their business strategy. Since the industry is continually changing, it may be more useful to hire PR professionals like Pressfarm to get the best results from public relations experts.

Here are some reasons why the PR industry can benefit from disruption:

1) PR professionals understand the people 

The primary purpose of someone working in the PR industry is to maintain good relations between a brand/company and their audience. In order to be disruptive, professionals need to be creative. To be creative, they need to respond to people’s needs. If they cannot do the proper research, they may have created great content but not appropriate media coverage.

Another problem that disruption creates is how quickly brands need to adapt to new trends and adopt new technologies rapidly. A tactic that may have been relevant just a few weeks before can be obsolete by the time you’re planning to implement it. While learning is a continuous path, having to pick up a new skill can be tricky, even for the best.

2) Social media monitoring 

Due to the rapid development and increased popularity of social media, mainstream news channels and traditional media outlets no longer monopolize news stories. With traditional media in the past, the focus was solely on creating a narrative for a brand and delivering that narrative to the appropriate media outlet. However, disruption has now given companies and PR pros the opportunity to tell stories and present information directly to an audience through various social media channels.

Every strategy should start with thorough research and analysis of past content. With the rise of social media platforms, there are now additional locations that companies and PR professionals need to look to when trying to find topics, comments, opinions, or publications to create new content. Once they’ve understood how best to use each social media platform and how one would effectively promote a client, PR professionals can help companies push out their company news updates, blog posts, surveys, and white papers to establish their social media presence.

Social media has given PR pros a new approach to observing people’s behaviours online, but that also presents a challenge for thorough research. This is because of the speed at which conversations evolve on social media.

3) Resources at a touch of a button 

Disruption has not just made it easier for companies and PR professionals to connect with the right people; it has also provided many resources for them to research any necessary information. Companies can research particular subjects, keywords, and individuals that help their business plan because of the Internet and social media. There is now plenty of valuable insight that can be found with just a touch of a button or just typing a keyword into any search engine.

4) Content, Content, Content 

The underlying factor in public relations is creating unique content that draws readers in, retains their attention, and has a high possibility of gaining visibility. As mentioned before, since the PR industry is continually adapting and changing, a company’s best option is to outsource PR efforts to experts in the PR industry if they do not already have a team in place.

Companies have been successful due to their ability to do thorough research and create attractive organic content. While a company may create content themselves, there is no harm in asking for help from people in the industry.

Pressfarm is a PR agency that works with companies to help create newsworthy content. They also provide access to their PR database of over 75,000 journalists so that companies can use their powerful, filter-based search engine to find their ideal media match. Since the industry is ever-changing, Pressfarm also has experts that help with online distribution to increase visibility in relevant search results across major search engines.

How to do disruptive PR 

While disruption should not be seen as a bad thing, new technology comes with new hurdles. The effects of disruption generally include threats to a company’s long-term viability by more agile competitors, increased regulation, changes in consumer tastes, and new technologies. Developing good disruptive PR skills can help brands face these challenges head-on. For this reason, PR agencies are expected to deliver more strategy, content, channels, creativity, and measurements. Along with that, there is a growing concern about attracting the right audience, adapting to new technologies, and increasing investment levels. Content creation, social media, and brand reputation are just a few factors that have driven the growth in PR.

Let us look at how some companies and PR professionals can overcome disruption.

1) Always consider the audience first 

Rather than basing business explanations in terms of key demographics, price points, or distribution platforms, businesses need to focus on their audiences’ needs and wants before all else. This approach has been the foundation of many successful PR strategies.

According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, some companies are more successful than others due to their understanding of people’s needs and their ability to develop products and services that fit those needs.

2) When times change, change your business 

This does not mean changing a business’s brand image; it merely means changing business strategies to fit with the trend. In traditional PR, the news chain can be broken up into newsgathering, distribution, and selling of the news. However, these days search engines, blogs, and social media have become the leading platforms for people to consume and create information. Companies need to shift their PR efforts to encompass more digital strategies to stay relevant in the industry.

3) Build capabilities for a new world 

Disruption has caused the PR industry to think about repurposing their core skills to create new, high-demand services that businesses and their target audiences are looking for. Digital PR skills now include content marketing, curation, brand journalism, social media research and analysis, social marketing, and social media management. All these requirements may seem overwhelming, but these PR tactics can boost a company’s media coverage.

According to New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, every company in the digital age has become a media company. For them to succeed, PR is an essential part of their business plan.

4) Risk management 

Finally, another way to overcome disruption is to have an effective crisis management plan. Risk-taking is a big part of what makes companies successful, but there needs to be a plan to fix whatever problems may arise through it. With previous PR and marketing, companies may have been able to get away with planning for various outcomes. With disruption, that is no longer the case. The problems companies are facing now have become more complex and span over many different platforms. For this reason,  the need to respond to sudden changes effectively is critical. Rather than being too rigid and only addressing specific parts of the problem and solution, companies need to be more flexible in addressing the issue.


Disruptive PR might seem daunting, but more companies need to embrace it rather than run away scared. The digital world is continually changing, and companies and PR professionals must adapt to recent trends and adopt new technologies if they want to survive. To stay relevant in their industry, companies need to fully understand the impact of disruption and keep up to date to stay ahead of current trends, be competitive, and use it to their advantage. From a PR perspective, trouble has provided new ways of communication, new ways to use channels, and changed how content is generated and distributed.

While companies may be able to create content on their own, sometimes it is a good idea to hire PR agencies, like Pressfarm, who are experts in the industry and are up-to-date on current trends.


Be the news everyone talks about.

We’ll send you tips and strategies straight to your inbox so you’re always in on the
best-kept PR secrets.