As PR Evolves So Must PR Tools

As PR Evolves So Must PR Tools

PR, at its core, is a relationship business. But, with a consolidation of PR, social media, content, and influencer management responsibilities, pros are evolving their roles. The tools we need to accomplish our tasks are now converging as well. Doing the work of a modern PR pro is tough, our tools should be robust enough to support us in doing our best work every day.
Michelle Garrett
May 13, 2018

The role of the PR person is ever-evolving. Gone are the days when a public relations practitioner focused solely on one area.

Today, PR pros are responsible for multiple functions. The more he or she can master, the better for the organization—and for the PR pro’s career.

PR Pros Roles Have Changed

While writing press releases and pitching stories are still part of PR, a practitioner’s role now encompasses a myriad of responsibilities that span a variety of functions.

It’s no longer the norm to see a PR pro specializing in one area – hence, having specialty tools may no longer fill the bill.

Now, a PR person is expected to know social media, digital marketing, advertising, SEO, design and branding – and the list goes on. While one person may not be able to tackle all of these disciplines, the functions are overlapping, so pros are being asked to strategize and execute on all fronts.

PR Tools Pros Use Need to Evolve

Given the changes in their roles and responsibilities, public relations teams need tools that evolve along with the tasks they’re now expected to perform.

It used to be that PR tools were mostly about providing a clipping service. The success of a brand’s public relations efforts was judged primarily by how many article mentions they receive. Media clips equaled success.

Now, the way a brand measures success has evolved. Brands are moving toward a deeper understanding of the impact coverage has on their site traffic and online conversions. PR pros are beginning to map initiatives to company goals such as sales or thought leadership exposure.

The tools are converging, as well, to match the needs of the PR person and his or her workflow. PR pros need to see the big picture, yet be able to drill down to the details. They need to report on trends and performance, connect with influencers and tap into social. And, they need to be able to do all that in real time.

Public relations pros need a comprehensive tool that becomes more and more reflective of the full job function while being responsive to all their needs.

Typical Day in the Life of a PR Pro

To get a better idea of the challenges, let’s look a typical day for a public relations professional which could include all of the following:

  • Planning an influencer marketing campaign: Planning an influencer marketing campaign includes identifying key influencers, planning out a strategy for how to work with those influencers and determining the best way to approach the influencers.
  • Writing a blog post: The blog post may be used internally as part of a brand’s content marketing effort, but then the PR pro may need to identify external blogs or publications where it could appear as a guest post. If it’s published, a social media effort must be activated to share the content and drive the audience back to the brand’s website. And that reach must be measured, to see how effective the effort was.
  • Developing a social media campaign: The brand is going to introduce a new product. Social media efforts—including the incorporation of influencers—must be strategized to get the maximum attention for the product.
  • Delivering a report about a holiday PR push: The brand did some media outreach around a holiday campaign it conducted. The boss wants a report that shows how successful the effort was so he or she could replicate it next year.

And so on.

Some pros work on their own, perhaps managing outside resources, to achieve all of this.

“As a team of one, managing communications across multiple functions including internal communications, PR, social media, branding, etc., my job can get a little hectic,” said Shelby Whitzel, senior associate, corporate communications, Blue 449. “A tool like Meltwater has been a lifesaver, providing a single media hub to manage and track social media and press mentions. It also allows access to insights, supporting an informed content strategy and overall decision-making.”

No More Silos – It’s Now About Synergies

While the integration of many PR functions can be a positive change for the industry, there will be some growing pains to get to the point where technology can help pros make the most of this approach. However, the opportunities for synergy to exist among these silos has never been greater. The convergence of tools can help break down the walls that have historically existed in the marketing and PR function.

“PR pros always had a more flexible approach to work than our marketing counterparts. For instance, it wasn’t uncommon for a PR agency person to be the account manager, writer, publicist, and event planner all rolled up into one,” says Martin Waxman, President, Martin Waxman Communications.

“Today, I believe we need those abilities, plus an understanding of how to navigate in the digital landscape,” Waxman continues. “We need to know how to build and maintain two-way relationships on social media, create videos, podcasts, conversational experiences on chatbots, how to get insights from big and small data and be the guardians of ethics, privacy, and reputation. That’s a lot to manage!”

Can an All-In-One Solution Lessen the Demands on PR Pros?

The use of an all-in-one solution CAN make the PR pro’s job easier. Media intelligence platforms can do some of the work, such as catching mentions of a press release, analyzing the engagement around our brand on social media, or proving the impact made on our KPIs, simplifying the workday—and making PR pros more effective. Such a solution also allows public relations teams to present information in an easy-to-understand way.

What Would This Solution Look Like?

  • A comprehensive platform, one that offers global reach but also drills down to hyperlocal
  • A tool a PR pro can access wherever he or she is – it’s mobile-friendly so that the pro can do his or her job on the go
  • A platform that scales with them – as the brand grows, it can accommodate that growth

And of course, with technologies like A.I.-driven media intelligence on the horizon, brands also need a provider that’s investing in the future to help them in the present.

A true omnichannel communications platform includes journalists AND social influencers. It provides analytics and reports that measure and prove ROI across traditional and social media and the interplay between the two.

If the workflow is embedded in the tool, that makes it easier. More automation allows practitioners to focus on goals and not waste time on repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

It also offers a glimpse of how a brand measures up to its competitors, so they know where they’re winning—and where they need to place more effort.

As PR Evolves, Look for Solutions That Match Needs

As silos come down and the role of today’s public relations pro continues to evolve, look for solutions that cover the spectrum of PR and social to match where a brand is. A single source, comprehensive and consolidated that encompasses the spectrum of needs today while keeping an eye on the future.

Part of the need for a comprehensive PR platform is the increasing demand of the industry that asks for everything to be tracked and analyzed. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, we can help. And, if you’re wondering about your key performance indicators and how to show a return on investment, download our ebook.