By now, I would hope that all of us in the PR industry understand and realize that the days of the press release are numbered, if not already over.
Often, we're asked “is social media part of PR?”; “is content creation?” My response is unequivocally, “yes!”
Media is media. Whether it's a story in The New York Times, Mashable, Business Insider, or a blog post, benchmark report, or video case study, our job is to strategically generate a mass amount of interest, buzz, news, etc., on behalf of our clients. Yes, a press release still has value as a fact sheet giving anyone reading it the fundamentals of any story - who, what, where, when, and why it matters. It's a means to an end.
The onus is on us to counsel clients to create content other than press releases to effectively generate PR the right way. In this era of cross-platform digital media, clients need to understand and embrace that the goal is not only to drive awareness around their brand, product, or service but to also to spark engagement.
Some suggested content to create for clients include, but are not limited to: POV and insights to industry news, infographics, bylines or whitepapers, case studies, benchmark or trend reports, and photos or videos, to name just a few ideas.
The fact is that we live in a link economy - an era of driving traffic, posting, seeding, sharing, and liking posts with one another. It's all about the customer journey, after all. It's about going down the “rabbit hole.”
Some great questions to ask your clients:
1. How are we going to drive traffic back to your online channels?
2. Do we have a content strategy in place?
3. Will the content create engagement?
4. Where are we going to store this content?
5. How active is your blog?
6. How will the content activate your audience into “buyers” or brand ambassadors?
7. What tools are we using to measure success?
I find that our earned media efforts are often more successful when we're sharing links and relevant client content with media in a very sensible manner, without the hard sell.
The bottom line is that now is an exciting time for the PR industry. We now have the opportunity to go way beyond just earned media and have a seat at the table for both owned and paid media. It all stems from PR's ability to tell stories, and now we can recommend compelling and engaging content that moves beyond the press release.
If your client believes that sending a press release out on the wire is PR, use the opportunity to educate them how content creation and owned media are far more vital to a successful campaign.
Harrison Wise is president of Wise Public Relations.