The PR evolution
Our MD, Stephen Ballard, takes us on a walk down memory lane, discusses how PR developed and gives a few predictions for the future.
PR in the past:
Over the years, PR has changed significantly becoming a vital marketing tool used by businesses and organisations around the world.
In the past it was a different story, investing in PR was often not a priority for businesses especially in the B2B sector. Companies where slow to recognise the benefits and when they did, success was often measured solely by the number of sales leads a press release would generate. But in those days, the very act of getting a press release, or more importantly a technology story published, was a much more ‘intimate’ affair.
Our MD, Stephen Ballard, reminisces how the industry used to be: “In the past, we did not have electronic platforms to help us acquire media information nor analyse our social media performance (simply because we did not have social media to begin with), everything went out by post. In those days, there was a much closer relationship between the PR professionals and journalists, where personal briefing was the ‘norm’. Relationships counted for more in those days when individuals stayed in the same job for longer and as such had a greater understanding of their industry sectors.”
News distribution was also different in the past. As TV, newspapers, periodicals and radio where the main sources of news, PR professionals were only working with these channels. Whereas now there are blogs, social media and social media groups, online forums and the list goes on and on.
As we entered the digital era, one of the noticeable changes is that publications started to abandon print issues and turning into digital e-magazines. This is because more and more readers preferred the simplicity and convenience of accessing news online and as such print sales decreased drastically.
Gen Y and Z’s knowledge and handling of sophisticated technology has dramatically altered the number and type of news media and how they are accessed. Today online media is the norm being a more convenient but also a cheaper option.…and as such PR agencies changed with the times focussing online.
Perhaps the greatest impact on the industry is the advent of so many different social media platforms! These widely (and sometimes overly) used channels have taken the commination’s industry by storm with each having a role in every PR agency’s integrated strategic communications program.
Media training has always been important tool within the PR suite of services. Facing the media has always been a daunting task and PR professionals have been regularly called upon to train company executives on how to engage with the media. But nowadays every word that is said can, and is being recorded, and can be broadcasted on Twitter within seconds.
Our MD adds: “Today there is a need for constant content production to keep pace with the short shelf life of content. Ensuring that the news is engaging, relevant and delivered on the right day and at the right time is quite literally and 24/7 task.”
What does the future hold for PR… and will we be replaced by robots?
PR will remain important for years to come. But the channel focus will shift towards online content and away from print. More and more editors and consumers will go online to source information and read articles. Therefore PR professionals will need to develop editorial content optimised for specific target markets. That content needs to be internet-friendly including eye-catching infographics, GIFs, videos and other creative visually stimulating material. Professionals should also re-think the length of each article since that the attention span of individual consumers has decreased. As a result of digitalisation and fast news feeds press releases may also loose gravitas in the long run.
Finally, the question that is on everyone’s lips: Will robots take our job? Seeing how quickly (and sometimes worryingly) technology evolves there is no doubt that some jobs may become completely automated and human involvement would not be necessary.
As far as PR is concerned, there is a 18% probability of our profession being automated and there will only be a 6% growth in the next 6 year (source: https://willrobotstakemyjob.com). Therefore, we’re safe for now…