Rightly or wrongly, the PR industry has taken a lot of stick over the last year. Allegations that it has fallen behind in the race to ‘own’ social media may or may not be true. But, in an industry that has built itself on perceptions, there is work to be done to ensure it remains a key weapon in any marketing arsenal.
So, given the time of year, I’ve been thinking about five New Year resolutions that the PR industry should consider for 2011.
Clearly no one size will fit all. To some in the industry that are doing great work (and there are many out there, despite what you might read), these resolutions will just serve as affirmations of their work.
For others, the resolutions will hopefully act as pointers for how PR has changed/is changing and the steps they should consider taking to ensure they keep up.
1. Take a strategic approach to social
2010 was the year when social really took off from a business standpoint, with a vast number of businesses now actively involved on Twitter, Facebook and even Foursquare.
There are many agencies out there, of all shapes and sizes, that will be happy to set you up with a Twitter feed or Facebook page, but how many are giving higher-level strategic advice about how social really fits in and, crucially, how to get business returns?
With many marketers admitting they are only doing social to keep up with the competition, its time to take a more sustainable approach. PR has the ability to be at the centre of this discussion.
2. Focus on integration
Continuing on from the previous point, it has been proved time and time again that social media and digital work best when integrated across the board.
How does your social media strategy fit in with your wider web programme? How does it influence or affect your comms strategy or permeate through to other business units such as customer service?
Ensuring that all aspects of a PR and marketing programme are integrated will become even more important. And, with ‘earned media’, content creation and communication at the heart of much of this, PR is perfectly suited to take a leading role.
3. Take SEO seriously
Google remains the centre of the universe for most of us when using the web to find information. And with the continued rollout of Google’s universal search programme, PR has an even greater role to play in helping companies stand out in organic search rankings.
With all the buzz around social media, it’s easy to overlook SEO, but the returns for PR agencies and benefits for their clients are potentially greater.
4. Use digital to revolutionise measurement
Measurement has always plagued the PR industry and we finally seem to be seeing a general (if begrudging) admission that metrics such as AVE are no longer cutting the mustard. The web finally gives PRs new exciting ways to measure success.
I’m amazed that more aren’t grabbing this opportunity to really prove their worth.
5. Only give your best advice
When we only had print media and a couple of analysts to worry about, life was easier. In today’s fragmented media world, giving strategic advice is harder than ever. And it’s easy to become blinkered by the same old tactics.
PR strategy in these times involves a lot more planning. Identifying target audiences and the best media channels to reach them on is vital. Suggesting a Facebook page for every campaign because ‘it’s the thing to do’ isn’t strategic and just wont work in the long or short term.