The new world of PR: Forget your rules and start experimenting

The growth of the online world has taken the PR industry by storm. In a world where everything is now digital first, PR professionals have to start thinking like publishers. Furthermore, with the rapid change, there is little room for hard and fast rules.

The PR world has become all about experimentation.

“If you are looking to engage your audience through PR tactics, it’s not about straight forward advertising. It is a lot of experimentation – not huge budgets,” said Madeleine Little, director and head of PR for Asia Pacific at JLL, who spoke at PR Asia 2014. In the past, PR centred very much on media relations and crisis management – today those lines have blurred, explained Little.

“Digitisation has changed everything for us as communicators practitioners, PR people and as marketers. For public relations, it means that we as PR practitioners need to think like the publishers.”

She explained that today PR produces its own content, putting out original stories to engage with audiences.

Overall, according to analytics done by JLL internally, bounce rates are also lower and readers are spending more time reading original thought-leadership pieces.

How the evolving PR scene has impacted marketing

“Since the lines are blurring, the skill set that marketing needs versus the skill set PR needs is actually quite similar. It is no longer them and us anymore,” Little said.

Over the past few years, JLL has moved towards an integrated approach with its PR and marketing teams working together to come up with ideas and create content.

Furthermore, with the increased sophistication of marketing automation systems it has resulted in both PR and marketing teams sharing the same measurement tools. This then allows for a balanced understanding of how one department is contributing to the growth of the organisation.

However, where PR and marketing both intersect most is in the need to break down and understand audiences.

Rather than looking at “vanity metrics” that were termed as part of the old PR world or the media relations world, Little urged PR professionals to go beyond to assess quality rather than quantity.

There is no doubt tomorrow’s PR world will no longer be reflective of today.

“In terms of the ways we can use online or digital – it will keep progressing.”

All PR folks can do is keep up with the pace of digital and become “expert generalists rather than siloed specialists” of tomorrow.

Written by Prasanthi Ram