Public Relations

What does the future of PR look like?

Ash Denman /

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have noticed the media, and subsequently, the PR landscape, is experiencing some pretty dramatic shifts.

With the prevalence of technology comes the continuous shift towards digital news sources and the imminent death of print media. In turn, comes the predictable demise of free-to-air television as demographics evolve and younger audiences look to alternate platforms for media consumption. In line with this, free-to-air industry revenue is expected to decline at an annualised rate of 3.6% over the next five years as more Australians adopt streaming services.

In an ultra-competitive and shifting PR landscape, agencies must pivot and adapt with the media as a whole as this shift impacts the way that PR agencies do their job, both now, and more importantly, into the future.

The good old days

I can see it now. Restaurants filled with cigar smoke, where under-the-table gifts were exchanged for reciprocal information and exclusives.

Fast-forward to 2019, and schmoozing journalists with lengthy phone calls and lunch meetings is no longer part of the job description.

In the past, traditional press releases were the status quo with the media, favouring hard news stories in lieu of creative storytelling, but nowadays, it’s less about the cold hard facts in isolation and more about telling a story that appeals to what audiences want to consume.

Up until this point, the PR space has avoided revolutionary disruption due to the creative and insular nature of the industry. However, there are monumental changes from an approach perspective that are worth considering.

Telling a story

Authentic and engaging storytelling is paving the way for cut-through PR campaigns. Traditional fact-focused press campaigns are unable to offer any real narrative to the reader, or to the journalists for that matter. All too often, the story dies as a result.

Balancing commercial and creative

PR agencies will need to transcend traditional PR, and hone in on their unique selling point in order to sell effectively to a more conscious set of brands and clients. It will become critical for PR professionals to apply outcome-based campaigns while maintaining a high level of creativity.

PR can be a highly rewarding commercial investment for brands when the agency in question has a focus on execution and a commitment to outcomes, yet retains its creativity.

Adding value, not fluff

Gone are the days of fluffy PR. Clients are increasingly demanding a more solid return on investment and, in turn, end-to-end brand awareness and conversion campaigns. In order to keep up, campaigns must incorporate a media mix that focuses on reach, frequency and conversion.

The future of the industry will see more accountability to results, so agencies will need to add commercial value as performance will increasingly be measured to justify investment.

A new era

Ultimately, media transformation hasn’t created the doom and gloom some expected, instead, it has made way for a new era of PR and content marketing that focuses on authentic and engaging storytelling.

This is creating a refreshing opportunity for those of us in the industry prepared to innovate and adapt, and will only be amplified further as the industry is further shaken up with innovation.

With brand reputation, transparency and deep engagement with customers all key to a brand’s success in the modern marketing world, now is the time for those in PR to truly understand their place in the marketing ecosystem is more important than ever.

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Ash Denman

Ash is the co-founder and managing director of Greenpoint Media.

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