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PR professionals face a number of challenges in today’s increasingly complicated media landscape. There are more ways than ever to share the story of your brand with your audience, more channels to manage, and a greater need than ever to defend your brand’s reputation. Each challenge brings along with it new opportunities to excel beyond your competitors. Here are three big ones that we think you can overcome.
#1 - Too Much Focus on Activities Rather than Results
If you look at most monthly or quarterly PR reports, you know, the ones that get shared with management or with clients, they are filled with activity lists. You’ll typically find the number of press releases issued, the number of pitches sent to reporters, a count of earned media mentions, the number of blog posts published, etc.
These reports usually do a great job of proving that the PR team was busy, but so what?
What matters isn’t the level of activity; what matters is what happens because of that activity. Useful PR reporting is focused on results in finite terms such as increased website traffic, audience engagement, leads and revenue. When you analyze PR in these terms, you can clearly see which activities are adding value and which are just filling time.
#2 - Too Much Reliance on External Forces
To a certain extent, PR professionals must rely on journalists and other influencers to reach their audience, but too often, we see people who are content to let others determine their fate. Of course you should try to generate earned media, but that is only one aspect of a well-rounded PR strategy. Instead of just waiting for your media pitches to pay off you can:
- Generate useful, high quality content that will be shared among your audience
- Contribute to the understanding of your market with a study or survey
- Look for opportunities to publish guest posts on relevant blogs and invite industry thought leaders to contribute to yours
- Engage in relevant conversations on social media
- Get your customers involved with case studies, videos and testimonials
- Gather competitive intelligence and plan a counter attack
Media mentions are great, but most of the time, you have to take the wheel yourself.
#3 - Too Little Respect
Many executives (and clients) still think of PR as soft, difficult to quantify, and not as important as other types of marketing and advertising. Much of this can be solved by addressing problem #1. Modern business leaders make decisions, budget decisions in particular, based on data. Activity data doesn’t give them much to go on, but ROI related data does. When PR professionals can confidently explain how the investment in PR is impacting the bottom line, they gain credibility and shift thinking about PR from costs to opportunities. This is how the practice of PR will finally get the respect it deserves.
Armed with the right information and a strategy to control your own destiny, you can make the three biggest PR problems go away and you’ll confirm your value to the brand while doing it.