If you missed it a few weeks ago, The New York Times wrote a piece about redefining public relations.
You see, the last time PR was defined was in 1982. Yes, 30 years ago. And, in the last five years, our industry has been turned on its head.
All of the journalists we spent our careers building relationships with were suddenly unemployed. Companies began to rush to figure out how to make money with the newest and shiniest penny. Paid and earned media had a new sibling: owned media. And marketing, public relations, and advertising began the “who owns this” fight.
But we’re entering a new year, a year where all of these things are meeting their mid-level experience.
So it’s time to think about the key skills you need to have going into 2012 and beyond.
1. Search engine optimization. It makes sense that a lot of the content that is being produced comes out of PR. We’ve always been writers and readers. Now we have to take that skill and learn how to optimize our content so it’s being crawled by the search engines, while also being highly valuable and engaging.
2. Search engine marketing. This doesn’t typically fall into a PR pro’s toolbox because it’s pay-per-click and ads. But if you don’t have an understanding of how it works, how to do A/B testing, and what to do with the results, you won’t be #winning.
3. Content marketing. Content goes beyond the white papers and advertorials we’re accustomed to doing. Now, it’s videos, podcasts, blogs, emails, eBooks and more. The thing about content marketing is, if you don’t do it yourself, you’ll never truly understand it. Start yourself a personal Tumblr blog, get on WordPress, or even try out Blogger (though it’s not as good as the others). When you develop content for something personal, you begin to understand the applications it has for clients, as well as how to build community.
4. Inbound marketing. This goes hand-in-hand with content marketing because it’s all about the engaging and valuable content you’re creating. But it’s driving leads. You’re going to write content that drives people to your site and encourages them to buy. Content that has headlines around what people search. For instance, one of our highest read blog posts is PR vs. marketing. That’s because people search that term and we have content to fulfill their need (plus a webinar they can buy).
5. Integration. 2012 is going to be the year of integration. PR is going to work with sales. Marketing is going to work with advertising. Customer service is going to work with product development. Instead of the silos we’re all accustomed to having, we’ll become a hub where information is shared and the left and right hands know what the other is doing. No longer will we have the “who owns this” fight.
6. Results. Gone are the days of media impressions and advertising equivalencies. You need to gain some business knowledge (how the company makes money) and some marketing expertise (how to target audiences to buy, using owned media). This is the only way you’ll understand how the work you’re doing is not just generating sales, but creating profit.
It’s a great time to be in this industry. We get to learn, expand our horizons, and get out of our comfort boxes. So go do it!
Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. A version of this article ran on Spin Sucks.