I constantly get people asking if PR is something they should invest their time and money into. My short answer is ‘probably not’ and that is said coming from a background in PR and mainstream media.
So why not and what has changed? Primarily, the way people consume media is changing, what we choose to pay attention to is changing and that’s why traditional PR methods are becoming less and less effective. Secondly, there are better routes opening up for communication. The good news though is that you can bypass the middleman (the mainstream media) and still enjoy huge reach and take control of your messaging.
It’s not like the good old days
In my view, PR does not work like it used to. Back in the days when I was first in the media around 20 years ago, contracting a PR firm was one (if not the only) ways to build your personal brand or company profile.
The PR agent would reach out to magazines and newspaper editors to try to secure an interview for you. Back in ye olden days, an interview piece in a national paper would set your business up for months if not years. I saw this time and time again with all the people I interviewed and secured coverage for in national newspapers, magazines and on TV.
But even then, in traditional PR, it was far from perfect. The biggest issue is control – you can’t control the timing, frequency or even the angle of coverage with editors always looking for the strongest slant on a story. You also can’t really control which publications you end up in, usually having to go with those agree to feature you and not always managing to get in those you truly want to be in.
Take yourself direct to consumer
Now though with the democratisation of content production and ability for anyone to distribute content via social platforms, the game has changed.
Just as retail brands are focusing on going direct to consumer, so can personal brands.
There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that within the next five years ‘digital PR’, achieved via micro content creation and regular distribution over sustained periods of time on social platforms will be a normal route to profile building – a bit like this very video I’ve published here which has gone out across social platforms and on email.
Becoming your own media powerhouse publishing your own content gives you the ability to control all those pain points that existed previously, the timing, the platforms, the message, the headline and the frequency.
The targeting abilities of platforms like Facebook and Instagram mean that you can boost your content to the audiences of the very media outlets that you would have traditionally wanted to appear in. You don’t even have to have huge personal social followings as you can still reach large numbers via putting budget behind content.
Of course, there’s still some prestige and brand value (and results to be had) from appearing in mainstream media. But whereas it was once mainstream media first and social second, I’m predicting that that will change to a point where we all take control of our messages and reach via social and see mainstream coverage as the cherry on top of the icing of the cake.