Public relations is not a new form of marketing and the top PR trends have been evolving for centuries. As a modern profession, public relations can be traced back to the establishment of the “Publicity Bureau” in 1900. However, history has had many early forms of public influence and communications. The second half of the 20th century was a time of development for professional public relations. Industry associations, PR news magazines, international PR agencies, and academic principles for the profession had been formed.
In the early 2000s, press release professionals began offering social media press releases. The Cluetrain manifesto, which predicted the impact of social media in 1999, was controversial at the time. Nevertheless, by 2006 the impact of social media and new internet technologies was widely accepted.
From raising media awareness to lead generation and crisis management, there are plenty of reasons why PR has been and should be a part of every company’s overall business strategy. It can generate business leads, attract investors, recruit talent, retain existing staff, reduce costs, and more.
This article will examine the PR trends that will lead us into 2023 but have remained relevant throughout the PR industry. However, before that, let us look at what PR is, its evolution, and its advantages and disadvantages.
What is public relations (PR)?
Public relations (PR) is a set of techniques and strategies related to how information about an individual or company is disseminated to the public, especially the media. PR can take the form of press releases, press conferences, interviews with journalists, social media posts, and more. Its primary goals are communicating important company news and events, preserving the brand’s image, and minimizing the consequences by turning unfavorable circumstances into positive ones.
Individuals or organizations operating in the public eye are faced with disseminating information about themselves or their practices to the public. Public relations is an industry in itself, but attempts to portray oneself in a particular way to others can be considered a form of public relations.
Although it’s not officially included in the definition, PR is often referred to as “spin” to present a person, company, or brand in the best possible light. PR differs from advertising in that it attempts to present a person’s or brand’s image in a way that looks organic, such as generating good coverage from independent sources and recommending business decisions that garner public support. By the mid-20th century, PR had become one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States.
Public relations is essential to the success of any business, primarily when a company’s shares are publicly traded, and the value of the stock depends on the public’s trust in the company: company or brand. In addition to handling media inquiries and concerns, public relations professionals are typically responsible for developing and maintaining a company’s image. Additionally, they engage in hostile public relations or knowingly attempt to discredit rival brands or companies, even though those practices are not ethical industry norms.
Types of public relations
Public relations is frequently divided into different agencies or departments. Each department is uniquely qualified to handle the following aspects:
- Media relations emphasize developing solid relationships with public media organizations. A media relations team frequently works directly with external media by delivering company news and providing validated content sources. Media relations professionals also need to be available for public comment on other news stories.
- Production relations are inextricably linked to a company’s direct operations. This department is often associated with specific, one-time endeavors. These include events such as launching a new product, a unique campaign, or managing a significant product change.
- Investor relations is managing the company’s relationship with its investors. This aspect of public relations handles shareholder events and oversees the communication of financial report releases. It also handles investor complaints.
- Internal relations is the branch of public relations that deals with a company’s employees. It is concerned with counseling employees and ensuring that all employees are satisfied with their working condition. This branch also resolves issues internally to avoid public disclosure of dissatisfaction.
- Government relations are the interaction between an organization and related governing bodies. Some public relations departments want to build a strong relationship with politicians to provide feedback, persuade decision-makers to act in specific ways, and ensure fair treatment of the company’s clients.
- Community relations is a type of public relations that focuses on a company’s brand and reputation within a particular demographic. The community could be physical (for example, a city) or non-physical (i.e., the dog-owner community). To align itself with its members, this public relations branch focuses on the community’s social niche.
- Customer relations serve as a link between the company and its customers. Public relations frequently entails managing key relationships, conducting market research, understanding customer priorities, and addressing significant concerns.
Public relations vs. marketing
Marketing is more focused on increasing sales, helping to promote products or services, and ensuring financial success. Meanwhile, public relations is more concerned with managing a company’s or brand’s reputation.
Both departments may engage in very similar activities. For example, both may interact with customers to gather feedback. From a direct marketing standpoint, this data is used to better understand sales trends, product demand, and ways to increase sales. From a more immediate public relations standpoint, this data is used to understand customer satisfaction, ensure customer happiness, and ensure any dissatisfaction is addressed quickly.
Public relations vs. advertising
Advertising is the act of attracting public attention, which is frequently accomplished through the use of various forms of media. A business may wish to advertise to promote a product, announce a new market expansion for a growing company, or announce pricing changes
While advertising is the deliberate act of putting a brand in the spotlight, public relations is a more strategic and intentional approach that guides how a company interacts with internal and external stakeholders. It may be in the company’s best interest to “go low” and strengthen its relationship with the public by staying out of the spotlight.
Public relations vs. communications
Public relations and communications are intimately connected. Both involve projecting information in the hopes of developing a brand, image, or relationship that fosters value. A separate department within a company may be directly responsible for written or verbal comments issued internally or externally.
The exchange of information is one possible distinction between public relations and communications. Most businesses will see an overlap between public relations and communications. Public relations can be a one-way channel that imposes information to build a more favorable public image. Communications may become more rooted in the two-way functionality of receiving feedback and making changes based on the data gathered.
The evolution of public relations
A press release was once the most convenient way to convey news and messages, focusing on creativity and, most importantly, the story or news being shared. Press releases had to be engaging stories – usually shocking, sad, or exciting – anything that would elicit an emotional reaction from the reader. Only ten years ago, public relations was mostly done over the phone, and journalists were overwhelmed by the number of phone calls they received about featuring press releases. Companies will still need an exciting story to get their PR piece published, but they must consider some additional factors.
Companies can now hire PR firms to manage their public relations. These specialist firms handle the distribution of press releases to drive traffic to the company website.
PR is no longer the same as it was when the practice first emerged. If businesses haven’t caught on to the new ways in which PR works, it’s about time they did. Of course, they will still need to write a creative story or some news within a press release for journalists to feature their story. However, they must aim to get a backlink into the story so that their site ranks higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). High-quality backlinks are just as important as other SEO techniques like citations.
Additionally, social media has played a significant role in the modern evolution of public relations, with many businesses unsure of how to handle it. Public relations professionals have adapted, strategizing how to manage, create, and post content on these new platforms to a company’s advantage.
Looking back at how the industry has evolved, it’s safe to say that we’re not done accepting new projects and skills. The days of simply sending out press releases to journalists are long gone. Newsrooms are constantly contracting while the digital world expands, changing how the world consumes media. PR professionals are evolving, forced to think outside the box for fun, creative ways to assist their clients.
Advantages & disadvantages of public relations
Advantages of PR
1) Increased brand awareness
One of the primary advantages of public relations is that it helps to expand the reach of a company’s overall communications and marketing strategy, resulting in increased brand awareness among the general public. Since public relations aims to communicate a brand’s or company’s innovative, industry-pioneering, and forward-thinking ideas, the stories tend to garner increased media attention.
2) Positive brand image
After raising awareness, the public relations team can focus on developing a positive brand image in the markets where it matters the most. The benefits of public relations focus on brand image and reputation management. Ultimately, whatever appearances a company can create significantly impacts a company’s market position and overall status.
A positive brand image has a significant impact on the company’s credibility. Another vital advantage of public relations is that having an external party speak positively about the brand strengthens credibility. PR strategies are created with this in mind to generate positive narratives (from the media and the general public) about a brand, thereby increasing credibility.
4) Lead generation
As a company’s credibility and reputation are built through public relations, its market position benefits from adding new and qualified leads. This is because well-planned public relations strategies increase their discoverability by sending the appropriate messages and calls to action to the right people.
5) Attract investors
When seeking funding from investors, a public relations strategy is highly beneficial. The proper media placement and timing can raise the awareness of angel investors or equity holders about what a company has to offer. Because public relations is concerned with establishing credibility, it gives investors more reason to believe they are a profitable investment opportunity.
6) Enhanced media relations
The advantages of public relations in marketing include the development of connections and relationships with media agents. The top priorities of companies in public relations is maintaining positive relationships with media agents who prioritize their stories over their competitors. Journalists and publicists who share the same values as a company or are focused on their industry will be more open to engaging with them regularly if they are provided with frequent and newsworthy content.
7) Third-party endorsements
Being published by a third-party endorser is critical when expressing the level of dependability and credibility a brand possesses. This is why public relations professionals work strategically to place their news in front of lucrative audiences. When a third party writes or speaks positively about a company’s brand, they endorse its expertise and leadership, which often creates more consumer value than paid advertising.
8) Maintains reputation
Most public relations strategies are created with a long-term goal in mind. One of the benefits of PR consulting is that the PR team works to cultivate and maintain a positive brand reputation over time. This is not something that happens overnight, as consumers take their time to truly trust companies. Fortunately, when it comes to long-term reputation management, public relations is a highly effective tool.
9) Educational value
One of the most important benefits of public relations is education. It’s all about creating value and sharing educational content with the public about brands, products, and services that can genuinely assist with problem-solving. For example, thought leadership is one method used by public relations to inform the public about the knowledge of authoritarian figures. Consumers can make more informed decisions with this type of information.
Disadvantages of PR
Knowing both the advantages and disadvantages of public relations can help a company make strategic decisions about managing their company’s credibility. It can also help companies identify the best ways to communicate with its target audiences.
1) Difficult to measure
Public relations does not have a standard measurement system in place to determine the success of a company’s efforts. The metrics they use and the KPIs they set are heavily influenced by the end goal of their public relations campaign. There are some guidelines that businesses can use to calculate the ROI of PR. To align their PR efforts, they should always keep their overall marketing goal in mind; this will also help them measure their progress.
2) Little control
The willingness of third-party endorsers to publish your content is critical to public relations. They frequently pitch their story to multiple journalists, with only a tiny percentage opening their emails to read what they have to say. This means that a company has less direct control over the success of public relations campaigns.
3) Turbulent industry
Many of the disadvantages of public relations stem from the fundamental properties of the marketing and communications industry. The landscape is constantly changing, making it challenging to stay current on trends and market shifts. As a result, remaining current with current events and the latest news is critical.
4) No guaranteed results
Success is not guaranteed with any marketing campaign. The most significant disadvantage of public relations is determining the success of a company’s efforts. If their strategy is not well-executed, they risk receiving no response from their target audience. Sometimes the execution is not the issue; the critical message is often ineffective and fails to reach the intended audience.
Top PR trends in 2023
1) Data & analytics will be at the forefront
In the past, brands would make public announcements, distribute press releases, and hope for the best. Their online reputation was a bit of a mystery, shrouded in speculation and educated guesses. Not long ago, businesses did not know how to measure the impact of their public relations strategies.
The public relations industry is expected to be worth more than $88 billion in 2023, rising to $129 billion by 2025. Despite this, many marketers and public relations professionals are unsure of how their investments will pay off. Brands can and do expect more from their public relations team nowadays. With today’s analytics and PR reporting technology, data will play an increasingly important role in PR strategies.
The demand for good public relations is increasing while staffing in public relations departments is decreasing. Having data and analytics to back up their decisions and results will help public relations professionals appeal to the C-suite about job performance and resource requests. Furthermore, having data-driven insight into a company’s public relations strategies can assist them in determining where and how they are moving the needle. Companies should use this data to fine-tune their approach to improve their public relations over time.
2) Diversity & inclusion will reign supreme
More companies are doubling down on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives – and with good reason. Employees are more engaged, productive, and satisfied in their jobs when they can show up in a workplace where they can be themselves.
Many businesses view a DEI workplace as a competitive advantage, particularly during the ongoing Great Resignation. Companies that use public relations to promote diversity and inclusion also appeal not only to customers but also to prospective employees.
Despite their best efforts, most companies still fall short in this area. According to recent reports, most businesses go through the motions of DEI and fall short of creating a truly diverse, equitable work environment. This is an excellent example of why a solid public relations strategy is essential. Companies that are genuinely committed to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace can easily share the steps they are taking to support their DEI initiatives. Vague and generic statements are exchanged for evidence that shows rather than tells. As more consumers and employees expect brands to embrace DEI at work, public relations teams can expect it to be a recurring theme in their PR campaigns.
3) Influencer marketing will remain relevant & thriving
Influencer marketing has been a driving force in PR trends for several years, and 2023 will be no exception. Influencers continue to appear in unexpected places on the internet, from micro-influencers on TikTok to Instagram influencers with millions of followers. Furthermore, they are establishing entry points into markets that may not yet be on a company’s radar.
Due to micro-influencers, companies have reduced their reliance on celebrity endorsements and mass media channels to target smaller niches. Since it works so well, PR campaigns will continue to rely on influencer marketing to help brands grow.
An influencer is anyone whose opinions are respected. An influencer could be someone like a local radio DJ, podcaster, online blogger, or vlogger. These people may not have the celebrity or audience size of a celebrity. However, they have enough credibility and followers to sway the opinions of those paying attention.
Influencers are frequently busy professionals who may or may not be “full-time influencers.” In 2023, the public relations aspect of using influencers will focus on maintaining positive relationships with existing influencers and connecting with new influencers. Interacting with influencers calls for a distinct approach, as influencers are rarely represented by agents and lack established systems for brand partnerships.
Someone who is well-versed in influencer campaigns and relationships can do the heavy lifting for the best results. Public relations teams must first understand the influencer’s audience, niche, and content to fully leverage influencer marketing. These aspects are multi-layered and full of nuances that differ from one influencer to the next. Companies that do not learn about these nuances may end up doing more harm than good to their online reputation. Adding dedicated influencer resources to their PR team is one way to avoid potentially damaging influencer experiences.
4) Personalization will result in more media coverage
The concept of personalized marketing has spread to the world of public relations. Personalization in marketing helps to increase customer loyalty and sales by meeting the customer where they are in their journey. The same can be said for personalized public relations.
Tailoring PR pitches to specific journalists or influencers allows a company to create messages that are relevant to their interests. It avoids one-size-fits-all pitches in favor of an eye-catching concept that is difficult to overlook. When pitching new sources, this helps establish instant trust and credibility while deepening their trust with media outlets and professionals. As a result, companies stand a much better chance of being published by the outlets or resources they want to reach.
5) Authenticity will be paramount
Similarly to DEI and personalization, authenticity continues to shape consumer and PR agency expectations. However, we anticipate that authenticity will be much more prominent in a post-pandemic world than it has been.
We’re seeing two major factors driving the demand for authenticity:
The first is the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to create personalized digital experiences. As more marketers and public relations professionals use technology to create customized experiences, it’s critical to keep the human element that makes personalization authentic. While technology enables us to learn more about a target audience, many agree that it lacks the unique connections that only humans can make.
Second, the pandemic has influenced content marketing, messaging, and branding. Fake news and misinformation abound, leaving consumers unsure of whom to believe.
Consumers’ expectations of the companies they do business with appear to have risen overnight. They expect brands to walk the talk, be open about their ethics and values, and go beyond “marketing speak.” These things come together to form authenticity. Companies must back up their statements with actions rather than just delivering generic phrases like “We’re all in this together.”
The bottom line is that the pandemic has given people two years to reconsider what is important to them. As a result, they are more picky about how they spend their time, which brands they engage with, and how they spend their money.
While modern public relations has only been around since 1900, the concept has existed for much longer. The advancement of technology has evolved significantly over the years. However, it is essential to remember that public relations benefits are uncovered more easily when a company has a long-term strategic communications strategy in place. After all, the results of a PR campaign become more noticeable over time. Regarding the disadvantages of public relations, collaborating with a PR agency can assist in resolving issues that may arise when executing a results-driven campaign. Collaboration with PR professionals will also help to improve reputation management, establish trust and credibility, and avoid difficulties in measuring PR success.
How Pressfarm can help you leverage PR trends
Are you uncertain about how to leverage these trends for the continued success of your brands? Or maybe you’ve identified some good PR strategies that you can use to leverage these trends but you don’t have the time to implement them. If that’s the case for you, then you should consider hiring the services of a company like Pressfarm.
Pressfarm works with startups and companies of various sizes to create newsworthy content that can be distributed to media professionals or published on their own channels. By creating email pitches and press releases, press kits and guest posts, our PR professionals have what it takes to get your brand the attention it deserves.
By submitting your brand to the right startup directories and professional networks, we can boost your online visibility and ensure you feature in relevant search results across search engines. Finally, as a client, you also get access to custom media lists containing contact information of the best media professionals in your niche. With these contact details, you can partner with the best journalists, bloggers and thought leaders in your niche. By partnering with these people, you can share your brand story widely.