Best of ‘Questions for the PR Industry’

Oh my

By: Kelsey Marklund, Account Executive at The Agency | @TheAgencyKelsey

I have had the opportunity to chat with a number of esteemed public relations professionals and to share their advice, insights, and experiences with you through our monthly series, ‘Questions for the PR Industry.’ Fifteen interviews later, it’s time to reflect on what some of the industry’s best had to say to the question, ‘What do you see as the future direction of public relations?

As news rooms become smaller and organizations have the ability to grow a targeted audience and create and distribute content using relatively inexpensive technologies, I see those in the PR industry needing to continually grow their skill set – at an unprecedented rate.  The line between marketing and PR, and journalism and PR is becoming increasingly blurred with the onset of content marketing and brand journalism, and our ability to respond to these changes effectively and ethically demands  those in our industry to commit to continuous learning and sharing in best practices. – Colleen Janssen Hood

Since I started my career in 2007 the PR industry has changed drastically thanks to the rise of social media and digital marketing. The future of the industry is an even more integrated approach to digital/PR – at 88 Creative we offer digital marketing, PR, and design, and it’s rare that a client doesn’t need at least two out of three of those services. For a PR campaign to be effective it’s not just about getting coverage in the major dailies; it’s about finding relevant social influencers, tapping into podcasts, and figuring out how to get traction on forums like ProductHunt and reddit. – Erin Bury

The PR industry is one that has changed so much just in the past four years that I’ve been in it — I can only imagine what the next 1, 5, or 10 years will bring. I do see far less press releases being distributed and far more creative news blasts. Whether it be video announcements or super creative blog posts, I think the old school way of distributing news through the wire will only become more outdated. I also think that while we’re taught to be proactive, instead of reactive, we’ll be forced to find a happy medium very soon. With news happening so quickly and on so many different platforms, it can be hard to plan ahead. We need to be active and engaged at all times so that we can identify opportunities as they happen. – Crystal Richard

Public relations/communication management is now nearly universally accepted as a key result area for any organization, large or small in any of the sectors. The future for PR is very bright. We no longer feel we are struggling for acceptance and that elusive “seat at the Board table.” There’s still work to be done but thanks to a well-defined body of knowledge now being taught up to the PhD level and to the proven power of strategic communication planning that runs parallel to every business plan, I am excited about what’s to come. – Janice Robertson

I believe the future it already here, but many in the industry have yet to embrace it. We talk about mobile marketing on Spin Sucks, quite a bit, because reaching people “in their pockets” is something the PR industry has yet to embrace. I also wrote last week about PR being more than media relations because many in our industry think that’s all there is to it…and when they evolve to social media or content marketing, they no longer consider themselves PR pros. It’s sad, really. You don’t see advertising or marketing professionals start to call themselves something else because they have learned a new skill or adopted a new technology. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. The industry has such a bad reputation that people want to distance themselves as soon as they can. I want to change that. – Gini Dietrich

The future direction of PR will be focused on data, technology, collaboration, and, of course, media. Technological advancements, more access to data for gathering deeper customer insights, storytelling and stakeholder co-creation with your brand, and an understanding of how to navigate the changing media environment will help PR to communicate more effectively and to forge deeper relationships with important constituents.

Consumers will continue to drive their own communications; openly discussing how they prefer to gather, organize, consume, and then share the news and information they enjoy. Moving forward, it will be the responsibility of PR professionals to understand the preferences, create and distribute the relevant stories and to meet consumer needs, where, when and how they want their information. At the same time, an instantaneous feedback loop will help to build the kind of relationships that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. – Deirdre Breakenridge

My scuffed and battered crystal ball indicates that while the fundamental purpose of our work will remain the same, we are moving at hyper-speed towards a 24/7 cycle in a demanding, interconnected viral environment. The combination of connective technologies such as smart phones, combined with increasingly engaged, critical stakeholders, will continue to create new pressures and challenges for communicators. – Allison MacKenzie