An argument for PR in the self-publishing digital world

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 "...The organizations that are managing to cut through the clutter are the ones allocating more resources to public relations strategizing and execution, not the ones pulling back."

Without stating the overstated, most businesses recognize the impact digital technologies have had on the media landscape. The continued arrival of new social media platforms, search engines, blogs, forums, and other types of online communication tools mean there are always fresh ways for companies to gain exposure, reach target audiences, and effectively disseminate messages.

For consumers, on the other hand, the rise of digital technologies mean that getting the news has become a 24-hour hobby. It means anyone (that’s right, ANYONE) can create and publish content online, so it’s harder to know which voices to trust. It means that people are connected all the time and they are constantly being bombarded with images, advertisements, and information. For consumers, the digitized world can feel over-saturated and tiresome.

So, how does a company stand out? How does any brand break through the noise of competition? Now that businesses can build their own media channels rather than relying on traditional outlets to share messages, they shouldn’t need to build relationships or seek validation from traditional journalists anymore, right?

WRONG. Influencing people is harder today than it ever has been. And the organizations that are managing to cut through the clutter are the ones allocating more resources to public relations strategizing and execution, not the ones pulling back.

There will always be intrinsic business value in securing traditional media coverage. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to make a Tweet compete with a well-timed, well-placed article in The New York Times. And while local rural newspapers are struggling to compete with digital channels, the reality is that tried and true newsmakers aren’t going away. In fact, more often than not, it’s the mainstream media that decides what is or isn’t newsworthy and social media channels follow suit. Brands vying for the attention of the public will always benefit from trustworthy third-party validation – and media relations are the way to make that happen.

Additionally, there will always be business value in quality content creation. The abilities to thoughtfully develop compelling stories, mindfully determine where those stories will live, and proactively participate in how those pieces are managed or promoted are priceless. It’s not enough for a business to just have a Facebook page or blog or website. To fully leverage the muscle of digital platforms, brands have to be able to tell the right stories to the right audiences. They have to employ strong messages, build stakeholder communities, and leverage relationships to achieve business objectives. This is the sweet spot. It’s where public relations goes beyond just media relations to curate brand identity, strengthen a company’s reputation, and ignite public conversation.

To be clear, it is true that role of public relations has changed with the onslaught of all things digital. But that change should not be confused with diminishing value. Just because a company can autonomously get online and publish content, doesn’t mean they don’t need sophisticated plans for effectively reaching the people who matter most. In this digital world, robust public relations competencies are more important than ever. 

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