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.
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 professionals are responsible for multiple functions. The more they can master, the better for the organization—and for their career.
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, work with PR softwares, 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.
Given the changes in their roles and responsibilities, public relations teams need tools and softwares 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 media coverage and how many article mentions they receive. Media clips equalled success.
Now, the way a brand is measuring success has evolved. Brands are moving toward a deeper understanding of the impact media coverage has on their site traffic and online conversions. PR professionals 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 professional 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 comprehensive PR tools that become more and more reflective of the full job function while being responsive to all their needs.
To get a better idea of the challenges, let’s look at a typical day for a public relations professional which could include all of the following:
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.”
While the integration of many PR functions and PR tools 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 have 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!”
The use of an all-in-one solution (PR tool) CAN make the job of a PR professional 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.
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 PR 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 silos come down and the role of today’s public relations professionals 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.