Modern public relations has evolved from what traditional public relations used to be. From the days 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 not quite caught up with the trends today. PR teams in startups are struggling to get ahold of publicity for their companies. It is a never-ending struggle for most companies due to lack of understanding what public relations entails in 2021, and beyond.

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 2021, 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 a media database that helped startup founders to search for media contacts – has transitioned into a 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 press release writing and distribution. In addition to that, we also provide quality media kit design services, so you don’t have to spend time looking for a qualified designer to bring your vision to life. Gone are the days of PR packages priced way above your league. At Pressfarm, you will find competitive PR packages which are kind to your budget. We have seen the shift in the PR market, and we know startups sometimes need a helping hand with their PR in this ever-changing industry. We’ve developed these services with startups like yours in mind. Check out our packages and let us know how we can help you gain the publicity you deserve.

We’re still getting queries about what PR strategies are working in this new digital landscape. With our years of experience, we have put together a list of the emerging trends that will shape public relations in 2021 as follows:

1) 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 the age of the Internet has ensured there is so much information available at the click of a button. With so many businesses starting in the time it takes to create a logo and website, many new companies are pushing for their own stories.

For startups, it has become more important to use data to define their PR strategy. Startup 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 always collecting data via 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.

2) 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.

Today, pitching is only effective if you take your time to study everyone on your press list, their readership, and niches. You cannot get away with mass emailing 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. Startups that focus on pitching based on new data get media coverage more easily than those who are sending emails trying to pitch their launch or a new product feature. The new wave of pitching is 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. Sending an email pitch which a journalist will read isn’t always easy, but we know that with a compelling story and the right expertise, pitching always gets us results.

3) 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 was an amazing and beautiful advertising banner placed across the street, on the walls of a building or on TV.

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 – all thanks to information overload making it harder to discern between factual information and false information.

Companies that want to succeed in modern public relations must embrace numbers and analytics. Tech companies – including those who market themselves using social impact, must do their research, collect their data from both prospective and existing clients, then make some mathematical sense of 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.

4) 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 many influential people whose opinions are trusted by many. Bloggers too have become extremely influential and those who are credible can be the go-to person. When you need to get the word out about your company, building relationships with these influencers is a good place to start.

It is also fair to say that brands must be very discerning when choosing influencers to work with. It is important to choose an influencer whose target audience matches yours, and whose reputation will not tarnish your brand image. Moreover, when building a relationship with an influencer, you should take time to gauge whether they’re genuinely interested in your company, or whether they’re just in it for the freebies. In fact, some hotels, restaurants and resorts around the world have specifically banned influencers from their resorts because of the misconception that you can get a free stay at hotel in exchange for social media posts.

5) Publicity is not the end game

Even as companies seek publicity, achieving this 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 the end game be instead?

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 dissatisfied, and will hav nothing but bad testimonials for anyone who asks about your company.

Companies must therefore ensure that the product or service works perfectly: 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 ensure that word of mouth from existing customers continues to bring in additional customers very many years along the line.

6) Reading

Since we now have shorter attention spans, the culture of reading has changed. Rather than reading masses of text as was the case a decade ago, what people do nowadays is skim articles for the important information. For PR teams, ignoring this shift can be the biggest undoing – very detrimental. You need to be able to write in a way that retains your reader’s attention. For this reason, good PR writing is concise and engaging. Providing the important information in a few words is key, but so is writing in a conversational manner which will keep a reader engaged.

While the public is reading less, reading is still crucial for PR professionals who want to perfect their craft. 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. Understanding your niche, and what journalists in your niche like to write about can only be achieved through reading. Knowing how to connect with a journalist and offer them the right information can be the foundation to a lasting relationship with a media outlet.

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 their mission to generate publicity for their companies.

7) Content strategy

It is nearly impossible to succeed in the current world without a good content strategy. A definite and elaborate content creation and marketing plan sets you apart from the companies that are only focused on marketing 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 attract attention on these social networks is to prioritize content creation and marketing. 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 others.

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.

8) Profitability will matter

Before 2018 we saw startups boasting big numbers, but the same startups 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 budgets in s few months. The result was that all the publicity they had received resulted in people questioning the reputations of publications that had talked about the success of these companies.

In 2021, we are predicting that media companies will care more about money. Aside from getting the users, will you as a startup be able to monetize those users and turn a profit?

No one is living in a bubble now. Investors will be watching for startups that either offer too good a product or service without profits or for startups that make 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.

9) Relationships will drive successful PR

Relationships are a big part of successful PR, and that is more apparent in 2021 than ever before. Gone are the days where the PR expert at your startup could send mass emails and hope for PR coverage. Now, the people you’re reaching out to via email are inundated with emails from hundreds of other brands vying for their attention.

Whether you’re trying to collaborate with journalists or with influencers, you will have to put in effort to build positive long-term relationships with these people in order for your PR efforts to be successful. Taking time to get to know the people on your mailing list helps you tailor your approach and reach out to them in a more personalized manner. If you can send personalized emails which acknowledge the person you’re talking to as a unique human being, then the recipients of your emails will be more open to working with you.

It is also more crucial now to build relationships with your target audience. Instead of making them feel like a means to an end, take time to engage with them on social media. Connecting with your audience is a win-win. It helps them feel seen and heard and it helps you better understand their needs. Once you know their pain points, you can create a product which they will truly appreciate.

10)  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 manage their own PR strategies without relying on an expensive PR agency. Social media is redefining the flow of information and giving brands access to hundreds of PR tools. In addition, some PR experts – like the team at Pressfarm – are now giving companies the power to do their 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 into 2021. 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.

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 that want to succeed must shift their focus to what has become the modern public relations.

Do you need help doing PR for your startup? At Pressfarm, we’ve developed PR services to serve startups just like yours at the most competitive rates in the industry. By writing press releases which journalists will read and crafting compelling feature stories which will inspire your target audience, we can help you capture get the publicity your brand deserves. We also give all our clients access to a media database of over 75,000 journalists and influencers across different niches, helping them find the perfect journalist to help them tell their story. Check out our packages and launch your PR campaign today.

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