Navigating The PR Mine Field in 2017
February 14, 2017
In a recent post from our dear friend Sam Whitmore, titled ‘Trump and You’, he shared insights from a slew of high-profile reporters, analysts and other business-minded folks on the increasingly politically charged media landscape, and the challenges it creates for us as communicators. In fact, in the first few paragraphs, he asks the rhetorical question, ‘how should PR proceed’ amid the current political chaos, and that got me thinking. While it’s true we’re now competing against a seemingly impenetrable news cycle courtesy of the Trump administration, we also deal with ever frequent layoffs at top-tier publications and changing reporter beats. And now, there’s “fake news” and “alternative facts” to sift through on a daily basis. It certainly makes for a dizzying time to be a PR pro, huh? With so much media clutter, it can be challenging to communicate a story in such a way that it breaks through the noise. So back to Sam’s question…how should we proceed? I’ve got some thoughts.
Have a point-of-view
Like Bloomberg tech reporter Sarah Frier said, “every journalist, no matter the beat, covers politics now.” It’s an unavoidable truth. Sam even went so far as to compare the current landscape to the aftermath of 9/11, when the explosive media scene that ensued lasted for weeks after the attacks. And with reality TV style antics hitting our screens daily, there’s a lot to read and watch, leaving very little time left for the public to consume anything else. For us in PR, that means, ‘rock, meet hard place.’
In times like these where one storyline dominates the news cycle, our clients are often best served to develop a point-of-view on the matter at hand. That said, the POV must make sense for the company’s brand. Like Sam said, we don’t have to pitch anything proactively, but having a few pointed thoughts in our back pocket, is best case scenario in the event we’re thrown a curve ball. Then in those moments where it makes sense to insert our client’s opinion into the story, we’ve already put pen to paper.
Work in a little SEO
Once considered starkly different disciplines in the marketing world, today the combination of PR and SEO is key to developing stronger, more targeted PR campaigns. We were treated to a little download on SEO during the All-Hands a couple weeks ago, and the power of SEO is undeniable. SEO can help a client’s story reach a broader audience, and ensure high rankings in searches related to key topic areas important to their business.
Develop rich content
Maybe you’ve heard, but these days content is king. And the ability tocreate thought-leading, thought-provoking content is perhaps the single most valuable tool in our PR arsenal, and also an essential component to creating a strong media presence today. As the public’s media tastes and expectations change, so too do the types of content we create. The rapid rise of social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram is due in large part to the younger generation’s affinity for consuming media ‘right here, right now.’ It will be especially important to pay close attention to the content-consumption behaviors of future generations if we want to continue connecting with these growing audiences through PR efforts.
Produce good work, consistently
Implementing successful PR campaigns relies largely on our ability to build a deep knowledge base of the client’s industry and strong relationships with clients and stakeholders. Producing high quality work takes a full understanding of the subject matter and it’s a non-negotiable in our efforts to position clients ahead of their competitors. The challenge in today’s news cycle, is producing high quality content in an often short and condensed timeframe. A fast pace is the key to seizing the right opportunities that deliver the most impactful results.
Staying on top of current news, client news, industry news, etc., is a job in and of itself. As PR people, we’re tasked with telling powerful stories in a constantly shifting media landscape. No pressure, right? Nah, we’ve got this!