What Does PR Look Like in 2011?

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At a recent trade show, while talking with the president of a hopefully-soon-to-be-partner of Marketing Matters, he turned to me and posed a question: “so in your opinion, what does PR look like in 2011?”

I spouted off an intelligible answer, but there was a lot I couldn’t cover in our brief chat. The answer, I told him, has everything to do with the tools in today’s PR toolkit.

In years gone by, general PR responsibilities were to help develop messaging, publicize events, get products in all the right media outlets, get news out to the media and coordinate interviews. These general responsibilities are still at the forefront of any PR activities today, but the methods in which they are implemented have changed drastically. Not to mention, the number of places you need to actually do some implementin’.

Today, you’ve got to be aware that your audiences—which include customers, critics (yes, them, too), media outlets, employees, stakeholders, etc.—have no shortage of vessels in which they can, and choose to, receive information. No longer can you be dependent on sending out the ol’ press release or e-newsletter and expect everyone to hear the good word. Your challenge is to make sure you deliver your message to your audiences using the medium they prefer.

To give you a brief overview of the different ways you need to approach PR and a few suggestions on tools, I’ve put together a list of areas you need to consider to get better PR results:

Media Relationships – Work to develop relationships with members of the press. Take the time to get to know them a bit, know what they cover and how they cover it. Subscribe to their blogs, comment on their online stories or offer story ideas that don’t always include you or your company.

Social Media – Social media gives you a unique opportunity to connect directly to your audiences and by now, most companies have at least a minor presence in the social media world. However, most think it’s simply a “set it and forget it” strategy. You have to constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY work social media. Although it seems overwhelming to stay on top of it, there are several social media management tools out there (Mashable: 5 Social Media Management Tools) so take the time to try a few out and see what works best for you.

Video – YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine. While it would be hard for a company to see no value in video, most don’t take the time to make them because they all think they have to be the quality of a Christopher Nolan flick. The reality is that technology has advanced so much that you can produce a great 1-2 minute video clip featuring your product or service without extensive video production knowledge. Pretty much everything has a camera in it, and most computers have at least basic video editing software that’s more than enough for the common Joe. The key to video is to keep it brief, keep it interesting and make it relevant. A great format to follow is the simple elevator pitch that the gang at rAVe Pubs does at trade shows.

SEO – Even a little bit of SEO knowledge goes a long way. Every person on your PR and marketing team should have at least a working knowledge of SEO and better know your company’s top three keywords (one of which shouldn’t include your company name). Understand how to utilize SEO in all your online marketing and PR efforts including press releases, website content, blogs, social media, video, etc.

Metrics – It’s vital that your company has some kind of evaluation, monitoring and measurement systems in place for your PR or marketing efforts. Companies would never consider just letting the sales team go about its business without regular reporting, objectives and goals, but some seem to be OK with investing in marketing and PR without analyzing its effectiveness. Work to develop your communication goals and objectives and figure out how you will measure them.

These are just a few tools you need to have in your modern day PR toolkit. I would love to hear your thoughts on which are most effective and why as well as any other tools you feel are necessary in today’s market.

Scott Moody is the Director of Public Relations at Marketing Matters (http://www.marketingmatters.net), a communications and design firm specializing in technology, consumer and custom electronics, audio-video, and related industries.