What has changed, of course, is social media; the way in which companies can now interact with consumers directly. The likes of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have changed the communications landscape completely. One pissed-off customer having a bad day, and deciding to post something on Twitter, can do considerable damage – unless it’s planned for and responded to.
It makes for a new transparency that many companies are still too complacent about. The anarchy and chaos of social media makes it imperative that every company now has a social media strategy – even a basic one.
The good news
The good news about the new rules of PR is that it offers huge opportunity. For example, 90% of companies now say that email marketing will soon produce direct ROI as a marketing tactic. Over 60% of companies plan on increasing budgets for email marketing.
That’s borne out by our experience. For example, we distribute newsletters internationally. Not only do we write and design them, we can then track all the metrics – down to which individual has opened the newsletter, and how many times: valuable marketing information.
Or, for example, nearly £6 billion in UK sales annually is now attributed to social media. Also, visitors to a website are some ten times more likely to make a purchase if they have come from social media. And it’s not just the likes of Facebook. For example, 40% of brands now use Instagram for marketing.
Commercially, nearly 80% of B2C companies and over 40% of B2B companies found customers from Facebook. Indeed, a majority of social media users now prefer to connect with brands through Facebook, and over 50% of Twitter users recommend companies or products via Tweets.
It’s about understanding the communications landscape, integrating messages across platforms, and communicating in ways that are timely and appropriate for your target audiences.
We’ve been around for over ten years and have built a reputation here and internationally for getting things done, on budget and on time. We’ve worked with clients in the UK, Saudi Arabia, Belgium and Holland – a testament to our reputation for professionalism.
We’d love to talk to you and discuss what we could help achieve. Our ethos is simple: to build business relationships that deliver added value – engaging with stakeholders and customers and building brand value.
Charlie Laidlaw is a director of DavidGray PR
Old and new in the PR landscape
We all know that public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and, more importantly in this digital age, what others say about you.
The PR rules have changed, and changed out of all recognition. Once it was about sending out a press release, or pitching a story to a friendly journalist. It was one-way “push” marketing that hopefully, told your story as you wanted it to be told.
Now it’s about dialogue and engagement, creating two-way conversations that can help build brand awareness and, importantly, reputation. It’s about transparency and creating trust.
The dark side
As a former officer in the Security Service, now long-time
PR professional, I’m fascinated by how terrorists now make PR work for them. Although their random acts of violence may be senseless, they have mastered the dark art of publicity.
Take the horrific murder of soldier Lee Rigby in London, hacked to death for no other reason than he was in the military. With a large number of eye-witnesses with mobile camera phones, the aftermath of the murder was almost like a press conference.
One of the assailants, still dripping in blood, was able to look into a camera and declare that “you people will never be safe.” Reports said that the attackers actually asked witnesses to film them, as if it was simply a PR stunt.
Back when I was in the Service, the Provisional IRA also had a grasp of PR. Often enough, a bomb warning would be phoned into media outlets, giving the media more than enough warning to film the bomb detonating, and more than enough time to evacuate people from the immediate vicinity.
The result was often minimal loss of life, and spectacular images to further their deluded cause. PR does have its dark side.
The new rules
The new PR is complex. It’s no longer just about press releases and media contacts (although those are still important). It’s about engaging with stakeholders and consumers in new ways, with an immediacy that was unthinkable even a handful of years ago.
Most individuals searching for products or suppliers first turn to the internet. It means that companies have to have a good SEO strategy and populate Bing and Google etc with compelling content. That means talking to bloggers as well as the media, and integrating video, pictures and links – providing target audiences with a rich mix of useful information.
That doesn’t mean that old media is dead. What’s changed is the speed in which a press release or article can be posted, found by news aggregators, and spread worldwide. As an agency promoting clients internationally, I’m still surprised by the speed and reach that a well-crafted press release or article can achieve.
What’s important, however, is to always hyperlink back to specific pages on a website, giving readers every opportunity to engage with your brand. Important also to use analytics to discover the search terms that are being used to find your company, and to incorporate those terms into future media releases.
The PR industry employs over 65,000 people worldwide, according to the Holmes Report, which seems a lot – many would say far too many. In 2010, there were over four PRs for every journalist.