Whether it is makeup trends, fashion trends, public relations trends, or everything in between, everyone knows that trends are constantly changing. In order to stay ahead of all the trends of the season, PR professionals and companies alike need to be aware of all the developments and changes in their industry and come up with creative strategies to separate themselves from the competition.
While it is true that trends are constantly changing, good public relations is all about communication and building mutually beneficial relationships with journalists and the general public. Good PR helps companies to spread awareness to promote their products and ideas to try and convince an audience to buy them. To do so, they need to stay updated on the latest PR trends while also building a vast network of journalists, media professionals, and influencers that they can pitch a story to. As more and more businesses understanding the importance of traditional and digital PR, they have now put time aside to do this themselves. Alternatively, some businesses opt to hire professionals to build trust, generate engagement, and form relationships with their prospects, thus creating lifelong customer brand ambassadors.
Pressfarm is one of the PR agencies that go above and beyond to help startups and entrepreneurs create newsworthy content to promote their brand. The signup process begins by with a conversation with an account director, who identifies their newsworthy items and guides them on the best PR practices. During this initial chat, the account director will guide them through every aspect of PR required to gain high-quality results at startup costs. Once a client signs up and chooses a package, Pressfarm’s expert writers will then create a press release that covers precisely what news they want to distribute. The design team will create a visually-pleasing press kit which accurately represents the brand and can create a memorable impression both in the media and among the general public. The writers go one step further to create engaging feature articles which are published on various media outlets, thus increasing visibility for your brand by helping you feature in relevant search results across different search engines. The team at Pressfarm also understands that every startup is different. We will work with you to create quality content and develop a media outreach strategy to push this content out to the right media contacts at the right time. Sign up today and let us help you generate the publicity your brand deserves.
Before we focus on the current trends that PR professionals are using to help companies get media attention, we need first to understand that achieving positive engagement is the ultimate objective. There are many ways to accomplish that goal. We also need to understand the different types of public relations.
Types of Public Relations
1) Media Relations
While it is common to believe that public relations and media relations are the same things and the terms can be used interchangeably, that is not entirely the case. While public relations is generally focused on using communication tactics to create and develop a relationship between an organization and its public, media relations is focused solely on building relationships with journalists, media professionals, bloggers, and influencers to gain earned media.
What used to be a physical meeting with media professionals to convince them to take on a story has now moved to a more digital landscape with the rise of technology. However, one thing that has not changed with PR as the years have gone by is that media relations still takes time and effort. Many PR professionals spend months to years building relationships with journalists based on trust and complete transparency. Thanks to the positive, mutually beneficial relationship they have developed, companies can rely on their chosen journalist to find and create exciting and compelling stories about the company, products, or services because they know exactly what will attract their audiences.
Besides creating positive news stories, another benefit of having positive, long-standing relationships with journalists is that they may seek the company out for industry insight or quotes to feature when writing an article. Suppose a media professional has a previous positive experience working with a company. In that case, media outlets are a lot more likely to publish positive news stories about this company, thus helping the company to establish themselves as an expert in their industry.
2) Community Relations
Consumer behaviour is changing as people buy more products or services from companies that share similar values. For this reason, community relations is essential for building a business’ reputation among their local community and beyond. While it was considered an afterthought in the past, this has become an essential part of any company’s overall PR strategy.
Some reasons for having a community relations PR program is to get local support for a project, raise the profile of a business’s products and services to create brand ambassadors, give back to the local community through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), and potentially establish a company as an attractive employer to recruit local talent.
Whether it is sharing regular updates, sponsoring a local event, or encouraging people to donate their time or expertise to a charity, it is all about getting involved and encouraging people to help improve the community.
3) Crisis Communications
Crises can occur in any company and any industry; crisis management is necessary when disaster strikes. It could be a faulty product, a spat between an executive and the public on social media, or anything in between. These are all things that could potentially ruin a company’s reputation. To successfully navigate a crisis, companies need to be prepared and have a crisis communications plan in place even before an incident happens. With sufficient preparation in advance, they can minimize the impact of the crisis on the business. Companies should know in advance who will present the critical message and how it is going to be conveyed. Along with that, companies should have already built strong relationships with the media so that they can rely on their support when the crisis occurs.
4) Public Affairs
Public Affairs PR involves building relationships with politicians, the government, and other essential decision-makers to campaign for a change in legislation or positioning. Through this type of PR, companies and PR professionals need to make sure that their views are known and concisely described. All content needs to be very clear about how a policy could positively or negatively impact a business. Companies should also provide industry data and insights through submissions to government consultations, internal and external papers, or through meetings and other events. They should also issue news releases and articles to the media to influence public opinion and generate positive responses to committees and policy submissions for white and green papers.
5) Social media communications
Social media platforms have now become the channels of choice for companies to market new products and services. With social media, brands have managed to blur the lines between PR and marketing and shift the entire PR landscape. It has enabled brands to quickly influence public opinion, identify and engage influencers, and connect directly with media professionals on an upcoming story. Social media can also help brands protect and promote a business and connect with customers by demonstrating excellent customer service.
However, due to the speed of information transfer on social media, there are times where things can go drastically wrong rather quickly. Companies need to figure out what social media platform works best to achieve their communication objective to avoid that from happening. Additionally, the right individuals need to manage the messaging and get the proper training so that mistakes won’t be made that could potentially trigger a crisis.
6) Employee Communications
Public relations helps to establish communications with media professionals and the general public; it also helps develop better communication within an organization. Employees can be a company’s biggest brand ambassadors, so they must be treated well and kept up to date with business developments internally and externally. In order to build a positive and productive work environment, employers need to develop ways to keep teams engaged and informed and manage positive relationships in the workplace. This way, the business can run smoothly, avoid problems, and ensure that employees perform to the best of their abilities.
This type of PR can also be known as internal PR or communications, and it has become one of the most important aspects of any company’s PR strategy. Employee relations PR can include: organizing employee events, creating internal newsletters, introducing a wellbeing program, work/life balance initiatives, and many more.
7) Strategic Communications
Strategic communications are where PR overlaps with marketing and advertising. It can be considered as the overall communications plan for any company. Rather than distributing information just for the sake of it, strategic communications are about giving coordinated messages that help a company achieve its objectives. Companies need to understand what their business priorities are and ensure that all communication activity supports their objectives. In this case, PR professionals are supposed to increase an organization’s visibility by reaching out to media outlets and stakeholders, such as partners, employees, and customers, with controlled messaging.
The steps of a strategic communications plan include:
- Identifying the audience.
- Determining goals and objectives.
- Developing key messages.
- Developing a tactical plan.
- Identifying measures of evaluation.
PR Trends that still work in 2021
From what we saw and experienced in 2020, it can be challenging to predict where the landscape is heading, with previous trends being rendered obsolete. Even so, some PR trends have managed to stand the test of time, and others have just emerged due to the constantly evolving digital transformation that industries are now facing.
Let us now look at some emerging PR trends and predictions for 2021:
1) Creative storytelling
Storytelling is not a new concept; it remains one of the most important public relations trends at the moment. In product promotion, storytelling is about creating a narrative that shows journalists and the general public how their lives would benefit from the product or service that the company is promoting. However, with new products and services being created every second, companies and PR professionals need to craft a powerful story that will attract the attention of media professionals. Storytelling is not just about attracting journalists, but it is also about explaining to existing and potential customers the background of the product, why they need it, and how it will add value to their life. When consumer behaviour has changed, storytelling in a PR pitch is the fastest way to achieve results that elevate brand exposure and support its marketing and sales objectives.
2) Voice Content & Podcasts
With advancements in technology and users gravitating towards easier and quicker ways to obtain information, voice content and podcasts have become more popular by the day. With virtual home assistants like Alexa flying off the shelves, voice search and technology are not only being used for playing music or turning on devices around the house. There are more and more people using them to listen to the news and obtain other information. PR podcasts have become an ideal tool to spread the word.
3) A Short Pitch
Some companies do not gain the media coverage they expect or deserve because they target the wrong media professionals and send them inappropriate content or long-winded information. Having a clear, concise pitch is nothing new in the PR world, but companies must do their research and find the best journalists in their niche. However, they also need to make sure that it is a pitch that is short, personalized, and includes all the information necessary for the story. By providing a short and concise pitch, journalists can quickly read through and decide whether they are interested in writing a story about the brand. They can choose whether they want to follow up with the brand and write about the proposed topic.
4) Earned & Owned media
With the increasing use of social media channels, companies must use a combination of earned and owned media to get attention from media professionals and the general public. Owned media refers to any channels that the company itself owns, where they create their content and are in complete control of their narrative. In order to establish themselves as experts and thought leaders in their industry, companies also need to have a good amount of earned media where the press and public share their content and create their own story.
While it is not a new trend, earned media will continue to be a big part of any company’s PR efforts. Relevant research and connecting with the right media professionals is a big part of gaining earned media because sending the right pitch to the right media professionals will give companies the ability to gain media mentions, earning them more credibility for the product/service and building brand awareness.
PR trends that won’t work anymore
In order to build an effective PR strategy, it is equally important to understand what aspects of public relations have become outdated. By understanding these aspects, companies can avoid doing things that will hurt their chances of getting featured or – worse still – things that will result in negative PR.
Regardless of who a person is, no one likes getting spammed. In the PR industry, journalists are incredibly annoyed when they open their inboxes to multiple emails sent by the same individual or company regarding the same topic. Follow-ups are an excellent tool for companies that want to attract media professionals’ attention. Be that as it may, they need to be careful with the number of emails they send and how pushy they might seem. When developing relationships, follow-ups are essential to share new information about the product or service or help the journalists with additional information about the industry. Even so, spamming them every day and expecting a response is very unwise.
2) Pitching irrelevant stories
As mentioned previously, PR storytelling is essential, but pitching irrelevant stories will hurt a company’s reputation rather than help it. Before sending out their pitch, companies need to do their research and find out whether their pitch is relevant to the journalist at the moment or not. Depending on their job, journalists have a tendency to change beats, so it is crucial that companies research to find whether they are still covering the niche they are in or something similar. Failure to do this will result in little to no media coverage.
3) Impersonal mass outreach
Journalists and media professionals are very proud people; they like to feel like they are needed and that others rely on them to get a story out there. As narcissistic as that sounds, that is just how the industry is. By taking the time to understand a media professional, their writing style, audience, and schedule, companies can get their attention.
Companies need to personalize their email pitch to clarify that they are aware of the journalist’s coverage area and why the story they are pitching will interest the journalist’s audience.
4) Too much “me” content
Lastly, journalists are not just sitting around waiting for a company’s story; their intention is not to increase a company’s product’s sales without knowing that it is also beneficial to them. Regardless of their audience and readers, they are looking for stories and quality/trustworthy content to improve their reputation. Companies that create content which is too promotional will earn very little media coverage. To bring awareness to their product, rather than being overly salesy, they need to highlight the product features and explain how the journalist’s audience will benefit from it. The content of any good pitch should offer value to the journalist.
PR trends to follow for 2021
Now that we have looked at trends that have continued to work and the tactics that fall flat these days, let us look to the future and see what PR trends 2020 has encouraged companies to embrace into their current and public relations strategies.
1) Embrace humanity
With many people unemployed or unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer behavior has changed drastically, and companies need to communicate with their audiences on a more human level. Because of the pandemic, many brands began taking a more consumer-centric approach to marketing and asking themselves what their consumer needs and wants. By asking how their brand relates to people’s actual psyches, emotions, and complexities and whether they are missing the mark through their buyer personas, they can rework their internal and external communications strategies to focus more on the individuals they are trying to reach.
2) “Raw video”
“Short-format” videos have gained traction on social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories. Many brands and content creators have achieved success because they can constantly share short updates with their audiences. This type of content will continue to evolve and be relevant because it is easy to create. Its more casual and informal nature makes it a valuable tool for individuals and organizations to share their voices in their respective areas of expertise. With the right content creation tools, companies and social media users can easily use production tools to drive higher engagement and conversion.
3) Content gets “real”
The ability to connect with colleagues and loved ones through video is how digital innovations have improved our daily lives since the pandemic hit. Things that previously weren’t accessible or feasible are now readily available through “real” content. 2020 was the year of relatable content featuring real people living their actual lives. In the past, social media posts and websites only showcased people “living their best lives” either through fancy clothes or expensive things. If anything, 2020 and 2021 have encouraged businesses to conduct business as usual while also showcasing life’s realities during social distancing. Some companies have even gone the extra mile by changing their images from stoic, “stuffy” photos to more casual photos with their teams. Sharing raw footage of people getting through the situation together can help brands to connect with their audiences.
4) Social media is the “new normal”
With so many people stuck at home all over the world, people are consuming content through social media platforms and spending more time online shopping because they continue to be wary of going to brick-and-mortar stores. Brands need to make sure that they create content that will reach audiences and connect with each person who is shopping from their couch. In 2021, more people will go to digital retail establishments to do their research and purchase items. 2021 will most likely bring more retargeting of social ads role, as audiences offer information about themselves while shopping online.
While traditional PR is still the base of any PR strategy, 2020 has made digital PR the most effective method for companies to get the word out there about their brand and business. Some trends still will continue to be relevant for any company, but we’re also seeing new trends emerging. Whatever happens this year, public relations will continue to be essential for any company to reach its audience and connect with media professionals. Either on their own or with the help of PR professionals like Pressfarm, companies can gain knowledge of current and future trends in the PR industry and understand how to create content that will help them gain the attention of journalists and their target audiences.