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Unpacking digital platforms, multimedia engagement, and other key PR trends

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Public Relations

With new AI technology advancing daily and content strategy evolving, public relations professionals must find ways to keep up. It is not easy staying up-to-date with all of the latest and emerging channels to share information. While it can be difficult to figure out best practices and understand which technologies and industry shifts have real potential to redefine our interactions with media partners, get our clients where they need to, and pitch effectively, there are some key focus areas in which we’re seeing the most significant industry change.  

Communicating with clients, peers, and journalists

When searching for new avenues to communicate key messaging, we often take owned channels like LinkedIn for granted. This platform has emerged over the past few years as a primary source for communicating key thought leadership narratives to peers and prospective clients. The primary benefit of LinkedIn is the cross-pollination of audiences based on connections. Put simply, interactions as cursory as a “like” or “comment” can yield big results in terms of impressions and overall engagement. A free avenue to communicate thought leadership topics, and increase brand awareness? It’s a no-brainer.  

In the same vein, Substack is an oft-forgotten platform that we’re seeing an increasing number of journalists interact with. Whether tied to a professional beat, or simply a passion project dedicated to other topics a specific journalist might be interested in, Substack has continued to serve as a point of connection, increasing the engagement between PR professionals and our media counterparts. This provides the two-fold benefit of forging stronger relationships, but also supporting journalists in the industry as editorial teams shrink and workloads increase. The platform itself provides a way to create greater attachments outside of simple pitches or direct message correspondence.  

The comeback of connecting in-person

Contrasting these wholly digital interactions, the desire for increased engagement, authenticity, and brand presence underscores the renewed importance of face-to-face communication. Whether networking, fielding interviews, or attending meetings and events, 2024 has demonstrated a marked return to in-person interaction, with no signs of slowing down in the coming years.  

A recent study from event management software company CVENT noted that in-person event attendance during the spring of 2023 saw a 34 percent increase from the previous year, with 72 percent of surveyed event planners noting that they will hold more in-person meetings [in the future]. Moving forward, professionals can anticipate the continued reemergence of opportunities for in-person interaction, industry trade shows, panels, and networking opportunities that can be leveraged to cultivate new and strengthen existing connections. 

While sometimes less convenient than sending an email or giving a contact a call, relationships forged in the physical world lead to stronger and longer-lasting bonds that are increasingly carrying over into our daily interactions as media professionals. 

New approaches to content strategy

Beyond the never-ending quest to engage with and support our peers across the media landscape, it’s also important to find ways to create content and develop overall strategies for the months to come. The focus goes beyond securing online and print placements—today, it’s about prioritizing a multichannel approach that takes into account all forms of media and content, including podcasts, broadcast, audio, video, and more. This approach diversifies avenues for content, with the added benefit of providing potential sound bites, video clips, and other short-form content that’s far easier to leverage on social media channels than written content. The machine feeds itself in this cycle, with new content informing subsequent opportunities and vice versa.  

Moving past the diversification of content channels, we’re seeing broad developments in the creation and polishing of the content itself. In 2023, artificial intelligence and its applications were top of mind for PR and marketing professionals across all verticals. As we move further into 2024, the conversation will continue to shape the strategies agencies employ and the services they offer. Balancing these new technologies while meeting the growing need for a humanized approach is just one of the major challenges PR professionals must address to stay ahead of shifts in the industry. How do you utilize AI to your advantage without losing the spark that human touch points provide? As new AI tools emerge, we as an industry need to figure out how to integrate these technologies in a way that enhances human capabilities rather than replacing them entirely. By leveraging AI to automate repetitive tasks, analyze data for insights, and streamline processes, your firm can free up resources to focus on creative thinking and prioritize personalized interactions with clients. 

Content strategy also encompasses the pitches and direct correspondence that we inevitably share with editors and publications. These editors get pitched so much content every day, and differentiating yourself in their otherwise oversaturated inbox can be a challenge. While it’s important not to lose all semblance of storytelling entirely, consider linking out or attaching lengthy briefs directly and narrowing the pitch to the most compelling details; i.e. why the writer should be telling your story, and showcase accompanying imagery for the content with a link to other relevant assets. This ultimately boils down to making the lives of our media contacts a little bit easier when sending through a pitch. This is further underscored by the increased utilization of submission portals, aimed at narrowing down the process of collecting and sifting through information and assets related to specific media initiatives. Utilizing these resources when possible helps to streamline communication and facilitates easier communication between all parties involved.  

Data-driven results/marketing to drive business

For PR professionals representing D2C brands with an e-commerce presence, it is necessary to ensure your clients are enlisted with an affiliate marketing platform. Serving as a revenue channel for numerous publishers and content creators, affiliate marketing shares similarities with traditional print or digital advertising. Its inclusion in a PR campaign can act as a supportive element, benefiting both partners and clients. It provides adjustable strategic control, increased website traffic, trackable data, and, ultimately, the coveted outcome: sales conversions.  

Ultimately, our primary interest is promoting connection in an authentic way that further drives engagement, whether to publicize our client’s perspectives or our own. One way to drive this connection on the client side involves the increasingly common use of influencer marketing. Audiences gravitate towards authentic messaging from sources they trust, and these partnerships involve aligning with personalities that synergize with brands, forming a holistic picture for audiences that is greater than the sum of its parts. Professionals are continuing to determine novel ways to leverage influencer relationships, including branded content generation, brand ambassadors, long-term editorial credibility, and consumer sentiment data acquisition. With each post, tag, and comment, the brand can track an influencer’s impact through profile visits, website traffic, post engagement, and, ultimately, sales data.  

Dovetailing with the above, the use of personalized and trackable data has become a pivotal aspect of modern PR and marketing strategies. We’ve seen this take the form of advanced analytics tools that gather insights from consumer behavior patterns, social media interactions, and website traffic.  

Spanning digital platforms, content strategy, and data-driven insights, there are many tools, technologies, and methods changing the way we engage and work. From the resurgence of face-to-face meetings and events to the integration of AI, each trend presents its own unique set of opportunities and challenges. Looking ahead, our ability to thrive in this environment hinges on our capacity to embrace change and align with emerging trends in how we strategize and develop content, while staying rooted in the integrity, accountability, and trust clients put in us as media professionals.  

Jana Montero
Jana Montero is Senior Vice President | Culture, Content and Business Development at UpSpring PR.

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