Public Relations Agencies | What Does Their Future Hold?


Though I'm no fortune teller, it's easy to see that the times are a-changin'. Not only are things changing for consumers and companies online, things are changing for the PR professionals who work in the PR agency/boutique/firm world. With things like social media, two-way communication, and the mass amount of available information at our fingertips, consumers are more informed than ever, and companies are more strapped than ever to get their attention. (Check out The Changing World (& Responsibilities) of PR for ways to keep up with the change.)

Social media, for example, makes it easy to forgo the use of the public relations firm to conduct your own PR. Without the need for that middle man anymore, what reason is there to utilize the public relations firm? In an interview with Ann Smith of A. Wordsmith, she reiterated to me that while things can be done without a PR firm, you still need the expertise, advice, and overall knowledge that a PR firm may have. More importantly, that firm may have more connections with media and have stronger strings to pull in order to get your company noticed.

If companies can do their own PR, can publish their own information, and create their own relations with the public, why would there even be a need for the media anymore? The biggest reason: people still listen to and care about the media. Having media tell me about your company, especially a media source I trust, will carry more weight than simply reading it on your website. Much like PR for a company, media is a credible and trustworthy source of information.

In the past, you had to pay or pray that your story was picked up. Traditional advertising doesn't work as well anymore, and why companies continue to spend millions on something that doesn't need more investment than a few thousand dollars is beyond me. But I digress.

With so many options available for companies to speak to their consumers, companies decide to take the route that people ignore most, that is the most invasive, and that interrupts their customer's daily lives. This negative result of advertising is another reason why companies should continue to invest their time in PR. To garner the best results through PR efforts, experts should be consulted. (For more on why PR is better for building brands than advertising, check out 4 Reasons Public Relations (Not Advertising) Builds a Brand.)

"Why not just conduct my own PR?" you ask? Though I do encourage you to take stock in how your PR is done and to really interact with your audience, I know that there are many ways you can mess things up. This isn't to say that I don't trust you; it's not that at all. I simply want you to get the most from your time and resources, and utilizing the knowledge that someone else has already spent their careers acquiring is the best move to make. There are plenty of things that you can maintain on your own after you get the advice and guidance you need, like maintaining your social media accounts, implementing your brand throughout your company, and having better media relations.

As the PR firm, you also need to adapt and change with your changing environment. Because companies can do things on their own, you must sell your expertise in areas that need it. For example, many companies decide it's best to not implement tactics tied to strategies. Be the consultant they need on board. Additionally, learn about the new tools, get to know them, and use them. More importantly, position yourself as an authority in those areas. Write about them on your website, create a blog, and make use of social media. And, if you preach to companies to use them, be sure to use them yourself.

This change isn't something that happened overnight. It can feel that way, but the Internet has long been paving the road to this transition we're seeing now. Consumers don't want to be advertised to, and companies are capable of being more personable, so it was semi-inevitable that this change is taking place.

How are you adapting?

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