Modern public relations has evolved from what traditional public relations used to be. From the ages of banners, television, and clever marketing adverts, to today, a lot has happened. That evolution might be missed by most companies if they are not careful. Some PR agencies have also not quite caught up with the trends today. PR teams in startups are struggling to get a hold of publicity for their companies. It is a never-ending struggle for most companies due to lack of understanding what entails public relations in 2019, and onward.

One thing that will surely be expected is that public relations will continue to shape how companies launch, their growth, how they raise funding, and how they market their products or services. It is not a question of whether public relations and PR agencies are relevant or not in 2019, it is a question of what will determine the companies that win in securing media coverage and the right publicity for their brands.

We notice the changes in the market and that is why Pressfarm – initially just a tool that helped startup founders to search for journalists’ contacts – is now transitioning into a startup-centered PR agency with affordable packages for startups that do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on PR per year. For new startups that are just launching, you no longer have to worry about expensive SEO, Google and Facebook Ads management or PR packages priced way above your league because we have what you will find as the most competitive rates in the industry for these services. We pitch this because we realize the shift in the PR market, and the new trends that are shaping this ever changing industry.

As we move into this new Pressfarm, we have continued to get queries about PR and what the strategy should be in the modern world. Thankfully, due to our experience, resourcefulness, and the tremendous availability of the internet and information, we have put together a list of the emerging trends that will shape public relations in 2019 as follows:

a). Data

From big data to small data, modern public relations has become ever dependent on data. Public relations is all about stories. To tell compelling narratives to the target market, important data has to be collected and scrutinized. This is mainly because of the internet age that has ensured there is so much information available at the click of a button, so many businesses starting as quick as it takes to create a logo and website, and therefore so many companies pushing for their own stories.

For startups, it has become more important to use data to define their PR strategy. The startups’ teams have to understand the importance of every piece of data they collect, and how they can use this data to create compelling stories that interest their readership, journalists, and market. Startups are ever collecting data from Google advertising, PR campaigns, Facebook advertising, organic search, and social media. This data is of no use if it is not analysed to inform the next series of moves and strategies for the companies.

b). Pitching 2.0

Previously, mass emailing worked so effectively because journalists, writers, and bloggers all received very few emails and pitches because not many people had emails or access to the internet. That is not the same anymore because in the last decade nothing has spread around the world like access to the internet and email systems.

Today, pitching is only effective if you take your time to study everyone in your press list, their readership, and niches. You cannot get away with mass emailing among other pitching mistakes anymore because journalists and bloggers now receive a ton of pitches per day. They can also easily tell when the email was sent to a gazillion other journalists.

In modern public relations, pitching has to be done keenly and backed by research. The startups that are focusing on pitching based on collected data get media coverage easily than those who are sending emails trying to pitch their new launch or product feature. The new wave of pitching is now personalized pitches. General cut and paste pitches won’t suffice and have not been successful for a good part of the last 5 years. At Pressfarm, we help our clients with pitching in our PR offerings, it is not easy to get it right, but with the right expertise in our team it personalized and research-backed pitching always gets us results.

c). Analytics

A decade or two ago, very few people really cared about numbers when it came to marketing. All it took to get the attention of the market is an amazing and beautiful advertising banner placed across the street, on exterior walls of a building or on TV.

modern public relations chart

Today, no matter how amazing your advert is, at some point in your funnel the prospective client will ask for the numbers backing up your nice ad. It’s harder for clients to trust nice YouTube videos, or television ads or beautiful banners along the streets – thanks to the availability of too much information making it harder to discern between the wrong and right information.

Companies that want to succeed in modern public relations must embrace numbers and analytics. Tech companies – including those that market themselves based on social impact, must do their research, collect their data from both prospective and existing clients, then put some mathematical sense on that data. Put this into perspective in form of website traffic, number of leads, etc, and you will easily get press coverage. Journalists are now interested in stories that are backed by well analysed data. So data analytics is crucial, because the readers who are the potential customers for your company care about the analysed information presented as effective metrics.

d). Influencers

Modern public relations can no longer be controlled or defined only by media. The game is changing. The whole world is now a global village courtesy of the internet and improved technology. Previously, the press defined and governed brand awareness. However, in the current world, that neighbour of yours who has 100k followers on Instagram can give life-changing impact to your brand.

The world today consists of people who are trusted and highly followed by people. Bloggers too have become extremely influential and those who are credible can be the go to person when you need to send the word out about your company.

It is also fair to say that the notion of inluencers in 2018 has been a roller coaster for companies. This is because companies have no way of measuring the return on investment (ROI) when they hire influencers. There is no way to know what impact it had on the PR campaign, or sales, or revenues and profits for that matter. In fact, it must be put out there that as influential as these influencers might be, some companies, especially hotels, restaurants and resorts around the world have specifically banned influencers from their resorts because of the idea that you can get a free stay at hotel in exchange for social media posts. These inability to measure the ROI on influencers will mean that more companies might decide to shut out influencers from their PR campaigns altogether.

There are various possibilities for how this might go. However, if you are an entrepreneur looking to take on this problem, create a tool that helps companies measure the effectiveness of influencers to their brands.

e). Publicity is not the end game

Even as companies seek publicity, more than ever before, publicity won’t guarantee customers happiness in 6 or 7 months down the line. Companies must understand that in modern public relations, publicity won’t take you too far if it is the end game.

What should be the end game? – You ask.

The end game today is customer satisfaction. Publicity is just the beginning. If customers are not happy with your product after a few days or weeks, they will move on unsatisfied and with bad testimonials for anyone who asks about your company.

Companies must therefore ensure that the product or service works fully: not up-to some point. Startups looking for press coverage after developing the minimum viable product (MVP) should ensure that the core part of that MVP executes the idea and solves the problem it set out to solve first. In summary, publicity is only beneficial when customer satisfaction can be guaranteed. This will reduce churn, and ensure that word of mouth from existing customers continues to bring in additional customers very many years along the line.

f). Reading

Reading has always been important for PR and it remains the same. However, it’s more important today because the culture of reading has tremendously reduced and what people do nowadays is skim and digest the titles. For PR teams, this can be the biggest undoing – very detrimental.

The only way to grasp modern public relations is to read and read and read again. Setting aside time to read on a daily basis is advised. To understand your niche, and what journalists in your niche like to write about is only achieved through reading. Sometimes, solid arguments from articles written by said journalists can be the gateway to a long-lasting relationship between you and a publication.

It is important to understand the market, the readers, the writers, bloggers and journalists before reaching out to ask for press coverage. PR teams in startups that emphasise the importance of reading are miles ahead in the search of publicity for their companies.

g). Content strategy

It is nearly impossible to succeed in the current world without having content strategy. A definite and elaborate content creation and marketing plan sets you apart from the companies that are just focused on their products.

Long gone is the belief that publicity only comes from media. As we have seen earlier, influencers and bloggers have become integral to brand awareness. More fundamental, however, is social media. Just about a decade ago, it was an immense struggle to get noticed by your market if the media didn’t cover your company. Enter Facebook and the game changed. The social network now has more than 1.5 billion users worldwide. Then followed Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus – with more than a billion users interacting in these 4 social media networks every month.

The only way to be noticed on this social networks is to prioritise content creation and marketing. That, my friends is the modern public relations. The success of this strategy is highly dependent on hiring a creative PR team or chief in your startup. When you succeed in getting your company noticed on social media, even the media notices. Your content can include articles, videos, infographics, graphics, and audio, among other choices.

Social media is amazing because it creates a joyous loop: customer comes to your website/company page —> finds interesting content —> shares it —> checks out what you offer —> probably buys it and leaves —> another customer finds your content shared on social media —> clicks it and goes to your website/company page to read it —> shares it, and the loop continues.

h). Profitability will matter

Before 2018 we saw startups that boasted big numbers but were not making any money. They received a lot of hype in the media but most of them either got more funding from investors or went to die after burning through their little money. The result was that all the publicity they had received just turned into bad names for the publications that talked about the so-called success of these companies.

In 2019, we are predicting that media companies will care about the money more than ever before. Aside from getting the users, will you as a startup be able to monetize those users and turn a profit?

No one is leaving in a bubble now. Investors will be watching for startups that either offer too good a product or service even without profits or for startups that make a profit and are just looking for a boost. Average startups with average ideas garnering users will be lucky to secure any meaningful media coverage or investor funding without any profits.

i).  Expensive PR Firms Will Continue to Die

In the recent years, companies have been doubling down on their PR budgets assigned to PR agencies. This is because of the various ways that companies are now able to do their own PR strategies without relying on a Pr agency at all. Social media is redefining the flow of information, hundreds of PR tools including Pressfarm among others are giving companies the power to do their own PR without spending a fortune.

There are so many things that a company needed a PR agency for in 1999 that have now been replaced by do-it-yourself PR platforms online. This means that the space for making more money as a traditional PR firm is narrowing. Huge PR firms let a lot of employees go in 2018, while some scrambled to buy off smaller PR firms in order to survive; these trends will continue to happen in 2019. Growth hacking strategies will continue to define startup growth, while smaller PR firms charging affordable rates will thrive, and online PR tools will keep growing further as people embrace DIY PR strategies.

modern public relations is changing

As you can see, PR has come a long way. The good news is that the evolution has happened for the better, and made things a little easier – albeit in a noisier world than what the 90s must have been. Startups and other companies looking for PR must shift their focus to what has become the modern public relations. It encompasses all these – and probably more, but I can bet that companies that grasp these 9 modern public relations trends will come out on top.