In the early 2000s, I was vice president of marketing and PR for two publicly traded companies.
Back in the day, I spent millions of my companies’ dollars and thousands of hours of my teams’ time trying to get mainstream media to pay attention to us.
This was pre-social networking, pre-YouTube, pre-easy blogging. While we had a fledgling content strategy using an email newsletter, information rich site, and direct to consumer news releases, we didn’t have today’s real-time communications tools so we primarily generated attention using the old rules of public relations: Press releases and pitching journalists.
A decade ago we measured by how thick the spiral bound PR clip book was. This isn't the best approach today, yet many organizations are still working based on the old rules.
The new world of public relations
In an increasingly fragmented media landscape, the new rules of PR do work—really well.
Instead of focusing on a media relations program that tries to convince a handful of reporters at select magazines, newspapers, and TV stations to cover us, we should generate our own content to communicate directly with our audience, bypassing the media filter completely.
Ironically, the better your online content, the more journalists will find you. No pitching required.
Each of us has the power to create our own media brand in the niche of our own choosing.
It’s about being found on Google and the other search engines! It’s about people sharing our work on social networks!
Instead of writing press releases only when we have news (an egocentric proposition), we should be creating the interesting and entertaining content that our buyers are eager to consume. And we should be doing it on the buyers’ timeline, not ours.
In PR, it’s not about clip books. It’s about reaching our buyers.
To succeed in this new world, we need to adopt different criteria for success.
Sure, it would be great to have our businesses profiled in a major publication related to our business. But instead of putting all of our public relations efforts into that one potential PR blockbuster, wouldn’t it be better to create dozens of blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics and other media that people are interested in?
Shouldn’t we measure success based on where we appear in the search engines? On how many people talk us up and share our stuff?