I started my career in public relations many years ago and have always had a fondness for this profession and the people in it. I believe we are entering a golden age of PR for those professionals bold enough and smart enough to embrace it. Here are three essential new areas of activity that could re-define the future of public relations:
Search engine optimization
What does PR have to do with SEO? Maybe everything. The days of backlink trickery and schemes are over. Yet earning backlinks from a variety of credible sources is still a powerful signal to Google that you matter.
How do we build those backlinks? Quality content — sure. But that’s probably not enough any more. There’s plenty of quality content that never sees the light of day. People also link due to relationships. People link to you because they know you, like you, and trust you. Who is going to build those relationships that result in links? Marketing? Some SEO person? Probably not. Wouldn’t this job fit best under the department that was built for building relationships — public relations?
Here’s why influence marketing is struggling at many ad agencies and marketing departments. Ad agencies are accustomed to campaigns. They get money approved, do the work, the money ends, then they start the pitching process over again. But influence marketing cannot be a campaign. It has to be a relationship that builds over time, unlinked from a quarterly ad budget.
Influence marketing belongs in the PR department because this is a group that is normally already un-linked from quarterly sales goals. Their job is to build healthy working relationships with the press, community, and other stakeholders over a long period of time. Influence marketing is a vital, growing discipline and the best fit is PR.
A growing marketing need is content distribution. Today, great content isn’t the finish line. Great content is the starting line. We have to optimize our investment in content and determine other likely channels where the content could be distributed. This’s not far from pitching press releases to media outlets, is it? Creating content distribution strategies should be a natural activity for a PR professional.
Of course there is a lot of overlap between these three imperatives. Influencers can also be a source of backlinks. Channels that contribute backlinks might also distribute our content. Influencers are also probably publishers of content.
Public Relations 2.0
It’s remarkable to think that none of these activities would have been a priority for a PR professional five years ago but they are absolutely essential to business success today. All three activities also contribute measurable value to the enterprise.
Can PR evolve and embrace these crucial new activities? Time will tell but the smartest professionals will grab hold of these opportunities and drive measurable new value to the enterprise.