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How PR is Transforming in Digital Age

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Some people have declared that public relations is dying. They’re wrong. It is, however, transforming. Where public relations was once just about press releases, it now also encompasses content creation, social media and more. PR agencies continue to expand techniques and find new ways of touching their clients’ target markets.

But there are some ways that have been developed and will continue to prove helpful for those brands building their marketplace for a global economy. Any visit to a website likely holds numerous sales pitches, so much so that they have almost become invisible. If you looked at a product on Amazon or any other online store, your next visit to your favorite social media platform or your email account probably has that item featured to the side or in the middle of your page, leaving consumers more agnostic to salesy advertising.

The Evolution Of PR

PR was initially about getting the word out to journalists and the media about a client’s accomplishments, their sponsored events and new product launches. Those things are still done but now the media is a very different animal. Getting the word out can happen through a press release, but more often it might be through a blogger or an article from another trusted source that is shared online.

Social media has changed communications; YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms have completely changed the way the world functions.

How Have Clients’ Needs Changed?

As social media became more prevalent, consumers became savvier to marketing of all kinds. As social media sites filled with paid advertising, people began to ignore ads more. Ads are targeted now by a person’s browser history, but the practice has become transparent to customers. With that, PR had to learn new approaches.

Before long came the phrase often repeated by those mentoring people about building an online business: Content is king. PR needs to also give value to targeted audiences and best understand what will catch the interest of those who will buy their products and services.

Good Stories Draw People

When people scroll through their Facebook page and see an interesting story about how someone used his craft knife to make six necessary household items or how a shopper was treated with compassion at her local pharmacy, attention is drawn to those brands and stories. That often makes people think, “Oh, I want that craft knife so I can make those items,” or “Wow, I’m going to start using that pharmacy now because they care.” PR like that sells products and services.

Online Influencers

It’s not always as easy as writing an article about what you offer. Consumers need a stronger hook, so even when stories are authentic and heartwarming, sometimes they get passed over as just another gimmick. That’s where online influencers come into play.

Influencers already have a devoted following. They’ve built a brand and their followers trust them. That trust can translate to sales for a company if the brand connects with the right influencers. But the really powerful ones don’t lend their credibility without knowing the impact that endorsing a product or service will have on their reputation. If you have the right product, getting it into an influencer’s hands and helping them learn how to use it effectively can bring business to your door or website.

A good example of influencer marketing comes from the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, which uses travel influencers on Instagram to highlight the beauty and magic of the island. Among others, they work with Jordan Herschel, who takes gorgeous scenic pictures all over the world. Posting images with the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen surely enchanted many about the wonders of Hawaii; unlike a top-tier celebrity, an influencer allows people to feel they can have a similar great experience in Hawaii.

 The Way Global Brands Develop

Global brands develop in many ways, but in recent years the ones that know how to connect through media and the internet grow and prosper faster. Think of Google: At the time it first made an appearance less than two decades ago, the internet had been around for over a decade. But the internet’s first few years were dominated by AOL and Yahoo. The whole arrangement was built around dial-up service. It took minutes to load a single website.

Google came along at the perfect time, just as technology improved enough to streamline browsing. With its unique web crawlers and sorting algorithms, it developed a revolutionary search engine far ahead of all competition. Its lead has lasted ever since, thanks to its willingness to innovate.

Amazon started out selling books and delivering them within 24 hours. Before that, no one had attempted anything of that scale. Many didn’t believe it would work. But Amazon did what it promised and then kept adding services and products. It is a much more comprehensive entity today than its low-cost, fast-service initial model might have suggested.

Each step along the way has required the help of PR masters. Some have been from independent agencies and some are in-house PR staff. As each change in business launched, it took planning, strategy and getting the word out in ways that could show consumers the benefit of going with their brand.

Growing a company into a global brand is all about building reputation and doing it over and over until potentially millions of people know and love what you do. That will also mean a lot of research along the way, learning about different cultures and regions. But at the heart of it all, it’s all about building trust and name recognition. Once that is done, it becomes about adding to those and keeping what you’ve earned safe.

Source: Ronn Torossian’s article on Forbes.com .

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