What’s the future of PR?

By Lisa Preston, Director of Amplify PR

I largely work for small and medium-sized businesses, helping them amplify their brand and attract more customers.

PR is an affordable way to raise the profile of small businesses and it has the power to reach a large audience, showcasing the business to its target market. Advertising used to wipe the floor with editorial, but now – the editorial is back, it’s more credible than advertising. Now that editorial is print and digital – PR is long-lasting. A well-placed article or blog online delivers an initial flurry of leads and becomes the gift that keeps on giving, as more potential customers stumble upon the article via Google search.

It’s a very exciting time for PR as its now back in the forefront again, having been pushed to the side-lines by its more expensive partner – marketing. Brand marketing has become subtler and less dependent on advertising, it’s increasingly about key messaging and storytelling; SEO is about weaving your keywords in a high enough density into your website copy; content marketing and social media play into the hands of us PR wordsmiths who can cleverly write content to lead customers to value the idea of your product and squeeze the key messaging into tweets and make the most of Instagram #hashtags.

I’m a marketer and a PR practitioner, so I don’t really care which way the industry goes, but certainly right now – I’m loving where PR is going. This PR evolution or convergence with marketing – depending on how you see it – is a breath of fresh air. I’ve never jumped high with glee when tasked with gaining column inches in newspapers or writing advertisements, I’d rather write blogs, develop social media campaigns and work on websites.

I’m being commissioned by clients much more to manage a brand’s content marketing and/or social media activities than secure articles in credible publications and handle journalists. Clients want lead generation and sales much more than page impressions, number of press cuttings and AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency).

I wonder if ‘influencer relations’ is a more accurate description of tomorrow’s PR. We are increasingly inserting our key messaging into social media and content marketing to turn customers into brand advocates. Reputation management has taken a big surge on Twitter, as customers take to the channel to complain about products and services. Image is everything and PRs are the best equipped professionals to put their client’s business in the limelight, protect their reputation and ensure it maintains a positive image.

The future of the promotional industry is certainly moving in favour of PRs who understand the subtleties of selling and can write and target their audience; and I’m enjoying having the right blend of PR and marketing expertise to take full advantage of it.

Lisa Preston is presenting a PR workshop titled PR for Small Business at The Workstead on Friday 21 October from 10am-12pm. Places can be booked in advance by clicking here.

Lisa Preston is Director of Amplify PR, a public relations and marketing consultancy based in Winchester. Lisa has more than 15 years’ experience of PR, marketing and journalism. She works with SMEs in Hampshire and further afield to help raise their profile and reach more customers. Find out more, visit: www.amplify-pr.co.uk