In late 2011 and early 2012, the Public Relations Society of America undertook the big task of redefining public relations.
Before this happened, the industry was working with a 40-year-old definition. No one had reviewed it since 1982.
A lot has changed since 1982. Not only have TV shows and movies grown up, but so have Prince William and an entire industry. Social media has turned the PR industry on its head, and technology is changing more quickly than ever.
The evolution of technology
Technology evolves so quickly that it’s reaching millions—even billions—of users in no time at all. It took older technologies years to reach 50 million users:
- Radio: 38 years.
- TV: 13 years.
- The Internet: Four years.
- The iPod: Three years.
- Facebook: 100 million users in nine months.
- iPod app downloads: 1 billion downloads in nine months.
It’s not only the job of communicators to keep up; it’s your job as a business leader to stay abreast of the changes so you can lead your team in the digital age.
Websites are about the customer
Technology is creating some amazing opportunities for all of us, but it’s also causing some distress.
We used to have PR teams (internal or external) that focused on employee communications, media relations, reputation management, financial reporting, annual reports, public affairs and maybe some events. Today, PR professionals also have to be knowledgeable about Web development, mobile marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing and more.
The Web is much more important today for PR professionals than it was in the previous decade. As new technologies pop up, companies struggle to figure out how to add the latest and greatest tools to their overall marketing strategies.
It used to be that your website was an online version of your corporate brochure. But times, they are a changin’. Your website now needs to be a living and breathing document that consistently changes (at least once a week, according to a Hubspot study), and becomes less about you and more about your customer.
Recycle existing content
The first place you want to start is your website.
1. Find the French: Take out the French—the we, we, we (oui, oui, oui—get it?). Depending on how you like to work, you can either print out every page of your website (not very green, but it works), or you can go into your content management system and do a search. Look for every word that is about you. Look for “we,” “our,” “us” and similar words. This is the copy you’ll have to rewrite.
2. Consider the “What’s in it for me”: This means the copy you rewrite becomes about the customer instead of about you. Tell your customers what your organization does for them. Use words such as “you” and “your.” (On the flip side, you can use your Facebook business page to talk about yourself. Use the timeline to show images from your history.)
3. Update your testimonials: Some organizations have them in text as a quote. Get them on video. Also get them off of the testimonials page; incorporate them into every page of your site.
We have a client who held a user’s event a few weeks ago. The client hired a videographer to spend two hours at the conference. The marketing director got users on video talking about who they were, what they do and how they use the product. The stories ended up being really compelling. One user rescues dogs and finds them permanent homes. He talked about it, and then spent 30 seconds talking about the client’s product.
Mailchimp also does this well. Rather than talk about how much they love Mailchimp’s email software, customers talk about their own businesses, interests or hobbies and how the product fits into their lives. It’s compelling stuff.
4. Use case studies: This is what we’ll call social proof—the reason another person should buy from you. Most case studies are boring text. Make them multimedia, instead. Add images, charts and infographics. Consider whiteboard automation. Make the case studies so interesting prospects can’t wait to buy.
Once this project is complete—and it will take some time—you can focus your energy on other owned media, such as whitepapers, webinars, blog posts and videos.