You Ask, I Answer: The Future of PR?

Erin asks, “What is POV on the future of PR? As media landscape changes and print/cable become less mainstream, how are companies innovating within the practice?”

The future of PR depends on our definition and concept of PR. There’s old school PR – blasting out emails to fewer and fewer reporters, cranking out press releases, etc. That PR is dying out, and for good reason: it hit diminishing returns a long time ago.

However, if our definition of PR is about controlling the flow of attention, then PR doesn’t change. Where is the audience’s attention today? Who has it? How can we work with them? Gini Dietrich came up with a model in 2014 in her book Spin Sucks called the PESO model and it’s as good a framework as any for what constitutes modern PR.

Here’s one change that is different and worth contemplating. In the old days, PR professionals were behind the scenes. Today, attention is so scarce and so valuable that PR professionals, realizing that they have relatively short times at any given agency, are building their own brands and communities that they can re-use. The same is true for intelligent, progressive agencies: by building mailing lists, private communities, etc. of their most influential message spreaders, they have a well they can tap when they need it. It’s a lot more work, and it takes a long time to build those relationships, but when you do, there’s nothing like it.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Aaron asks, What is the point of view on the future of PR as the media landscape changes in print and cable become less mainstream? How are companies innovating within the practice? That’s a fun question. For background, I spent five years working at a PR firm, seeing the industry change massively during that time and of course, change continues. The future of PR depends on our definition of what we think PR is what is it? There is old school PR, which is part of Aaron’s question, in the sense of like print and cable and TV. And old school PR looks like this. It’s it’s a bunch of poorly paid Junior people crammed in a room blasting out emails to fewer and fewer reporters. You know, picking up the phone and smiling and dialing it looks like the boiler room right looks at the boiler room of a terrible sale shop. Yeah, Alec Baldwin’s character, when you walk around, like make more calls, cranking out press releases, you know, dozens or hundreds of press releases a day that nobody reads and and and costing an enormous amount of money for no good reason that PR is dying out. And for good reason. It, it hit diminishing returns long time ago. And the even the older older school PR that is actually dead, but you know, sort of Mad Men era of PR where you’re taking reporters out to Martini lunches that ever happens anymore. But even the sort of the salt mine boiler room, always be closing PR model is is going away. And that’s good. Because it’s it’s it’s extremely expensive. It’s laborious, repetitive, low value work. It really is, I used to describe it as it’s a sales job with no commissions at the worst sales job in the world. Now, if we define PR as the controlling of attention at the direction of attention, then PR is timeless, it’s not going to change, right. And it won’t change because attention is the most scarce thing in the world right now. Thanks to we have all these wonderful, lovely devices that we have. This is the center of attention today. These are becoming the center of attention. Where is your audience’s attention today? Who has it? How do you work with them? One of the best models for for sort of understanding the space is actually came up with by my friend, and full disclosure advisor to my company, Ginny Dietrich, over at spin sucks. Ginny came up with a model in 2014, called the PESO model paid, earned shared own, it’s a great framework for what constitutes modern PR, modern PR is all about attention, where can you get attention. Sometimes you earn through reaching out to you know, outlets that are influential or social media influencers. That’s where kind of that shared comes in is that the social media side of things, attention comes through organic search SSE own part, that’s where your content on your website. And and maybe medium and then anything where you have control over where you put the content, you do earn it. And of course you can you have to pay for attention, right, you’re not paying for media, you’re paying for attention, you’re paying for the right to address someone’s eyeballs, or their ears if you’re doing podcasting. That is modern PR. And you have to be good at all four branches, or you have the if you’re a PR agency or a PR team, you have to have people with capabilities on on each side. And you have to have people can measure it because one of the things that PR has always been better and still is bad at today is measuring anything. Now, here’s a here’s a change that I think is different and worth contemplating. In the old days, PR professionals were you know, the man behind the curtain secretly networking their their client with the with the reporter and, and the PR person was never really the star of the show. Today, attention is so scarce and so valuable, that PR professionals are starting to change their view on on the impact of attention. And what I mean by this is that your average PR professional has a super short life span in any given agency, you know, 12 to 18 months, then they flip and go to a different agency and things like that. Or they burn out or they go in house or something like that. Because it is it’s an old school PR which a lot of companies still do is very much that boiler room, it’s a sales job with no sales commissions that will burn you out super fast, because it’s not fun.

And so PR professionals, the forward thinking ones are building their own brands, they’re building the personal brands, they’re building communities that they can reuse. They are don’t like using the word but it is accurate. In this case, they are becoming influencers in their own right in a specialization in a space. They know who’s who and they have relationships with who is who. And they can persuade people that they know to do to help them Garner and direct attention. That is the definition of PR. And the same is true for intelligent progressive agencies if they’re thinking ahead, which many are not. But the best ones are building their own mailing list building their own private communities on a on an ongoing basis. Not our client has his campaign, we need to throw dinner, you know, hit the list, go go into the database and pull out a bunch of names. That’s that’s old school, that’s not furthering a relationship. The the most progressive agencies have a discord channel or a Slack channel or a mailing list or private discussion forum, our private Facebook group, and are building that relationship with their most influential message spreaders providing them value giving, giving giving all the time so that they have a well they can tap into when they need it. When they have a big promotion or big campaign or something, they can go in and say, Hey, folks, you know, we’ve been doing all this stuff for you and giving you value over the last weeks or months, we haven’t ask, right they give in order to earn the right to ask now it is a lot of work. Believe me as a as someone who helps run a large slack community, it takes a long time to build those relationships, it is a lot of work. But when you do if you do it, well, there’s nothing like it. Because as long as your gives outweigh your asks, and the value of your gifts outweigh the value of your asks. You can create massive impact. So that’s the one thing I would say is different about today’s PR for the people who are thinking ahead versus old school PR. Now the challenge is, again, because you’re changing out people all the time. I mean, the PR industry has something like a 55% turnover rate annually, which means that one out of every two people that you work with, if you’re working with a PR person, there’s a good chance and not going to be at the same company the next year. So think about building no matter whether you’re at an agency or an independent professional, whether you’re in house, think about building those relationships on an ongoing basis. curating a private community in your area of specialization, and then using that as your leverage as your your source of attention to direct it when you need it directed most. Great question Aaron, I could go on for a real long time of this but I think we’ll we’ll end there. As always, please leave your comments below. And please put you subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter I’ll talk to you soon. want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems. This is trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you


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