PR and marketing departments have faced a number of significant changes in recent years.
Bloggers have shaken up
the media landscape; consumer skepticism
has driven brands to be more innovative; and social media has forced companies to reach a new level of transparency.
Over the past few months, several more trends have led to major shifts in the role of the PR professional, among them:
1.The Internet is killing the “expert.”
Leveraging “experts” has always been a proven way to garner earned media coverage for clients. Experts are trusted resources that can organically land media placements while seamlessly plugging brands into the segment. Now that anyone with an Internet connection can share their expertise with the world, the once “trusted expert” is becoming harder to find.
Consumers are realizing that anyone can declare himself or herself an expert, making it more challenging to prove someone’s credibility. In fact, some experts are beginning to question
their own credibility, proving that we’re all just learning as we go. Luckily, the lessons are the most interesting part.
2. Freelancers are taking over traditional media.
The Internet shook the traditional media world around the time the economy collapsed, driving major layoffs across publications. In the first six years of the millennium the number of freelance writers has increased more than 300 percent
with no signs of slowing down, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Today, freelancers produce more than 70 percent of magazine content.
Not only are PR professionals challenged to seek out relationships with freelance writers, but also they are forced to create story angles that publications will buy.
3. Consumers are growing skeptical of statistics.
The growing use of visuals in social media marketing, along with the realization that data visualization
is a powerful way to break through the clutter and drive consumers to action, has inspired brands to find new ways to use data in their marketing efforts. The result is a plethora of branded statistics.
Consumers are becoming skeptical about certain claims from brands. “Green” ads, for instance, have faced mounting scrutiny from shoppers, according to Nielsen
. Consumers are beginning to pay more attention to the statistics
and what those stats actually mean. As a result, brands should focus on delivering quality stats that are impactful.
Companies such as PayScale
, OK Cupid
, and BirchBox
are finding innovative ways to tap useful statistics
to increase search engine optimization, drive buzz, and position themselves as experts in their field.
For example, PayScale avoids stats that say 98 percent of top executives use PayScale. Instead, it’s releasing quality stats about the state of the workforce and, in turn, making itself a leader in the field.
4. Content curation puts the success of a brand into the hands of the consumer.
Thanks to social media and the growing popularity of content curation, everyday consumers are becoming powerful influencers. Every brand wants a viral video or a social media campaign that drives major buzz, but few brands realize what it takes.
The success of a brand’s content lies in the hands of their consumers. Companies are challenged to understand what drives consumers to share content and how they can create the content that consumers will organically want to share.
Cassie Boorn is a writer, social media specialist, entrepreneur, and PR girl who has built digital programs for Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and bloggers. A version of this story first appeared on her blog, Ask A PR Girl.