Public Relations is much like many other industries in that it is constantly evolving. Yes, the old-fashioned ways will continue – creating good rapport with journalists and scoring exposure on media platforms – but new opportunities for PR consultants are set to arise in 2020.
Amanda Lacey, Director at POPCOM, a communications consultancy, believes that the industry is about to witness three big trends in the new year.
- A need for specialist services
There is an increasing demand for specialised expertise to assist marketing communications functions, especially in areas around legal PR where crisis communications and corporate image need to be managed during legal proceedings.
- The continued rise of the micro-influencer
With a consistent message of the campaign, the impact of micro-influencers will continue to drive the audience engagement rates for companies in 2020.
- Climate action with effective communication
To demonstrate a business’s commitment to climate action progresses, PR consultants need to accompany it with effective communications such as social media updates, press releases and in publications by journalists.
As well as these general trends, we also talked to Amanda about how small business owners could up their PR game in the new year.
What is the importance of using PR consultant as a small business? Our readers are small business owners and are sometimes reluctant to invest in PR – change their minds!
A lot of businesses invest in marketing, without considering the impact that a PR strategy can have long term. Marketing is generally designed to create short term sales revenue, usually around specific products or services, whereas PR is designed to create a positive reputation for an organisation, by creating a communication channel directly with stakeholders. I include the internal audience when I speak about stakeholders as staff are the most important sources when it comes to building a brand and image.
How can they make sure they find the PR consultant for them and address their issues and industry-specific trends this year?
A good place to start when looking for a PR consultant is someone who is accredited through PRIA (Public Relations Institute of Australia), or comes recommended by someone who has used them. Most agencies will have a reputation for good work in specific industries and I respect the consultant who is happy to recommend you on to another agency/consultant if the particular business issue or industry is not something they are experienced in. Just like with any external consultant, being able to find a good personality fit, as you will be bringing them into your business, is essential in my opinion.
Are there any ways of measuring ROI or if the campaigns are working on some level with PR?
Measuring ROI in PR can be hard, as a good campaign will create a positive brand perception over many years and it is hard to measure public perception. Whether a press release is picked up by a journalist or if you have scored a spot on The Project is not usually an accurate measure, but tends to be what clients look for.
When it comes to campaigns during M&A and internal communications campaigns during organisational change, you can measure by frequently checking in with staff using pulse surveys or the like. Externally, it can take a lot longer to change a company name and build brand equity – but one thing is for sure, you can’t do it effectively without investing in PR.