5 Powerful Trends That Will Shape Your PR Tactics

Public relations has not been immune to the news media changes that have taken place over the last year. PR tactics continue to be molded by these changes, and we as PR professionals must adapt our methods and approach.

As you can imagine, the 2016 presidential election cast a large shadow of doubt on the authenticity and reliability of news media. In fact, journalists are still learning how to compensate and win back the trust of the public. This has implications for public relations professionals.

A new report from Cision sheds light on the important issues and changes of the PR profession in 2017.

Let’s look at the 5 biggest trends that affect the PR industry as a whole, and how you can adapt your PR campaign to the new rules that emerge.

5 Trends That Will Affect Your PR Tactics, and How You Can Adapt

1. Journalists Are Feeling the Pressure

The media industry is currently in a state of flux, and many long-time journalists are feeling the pressure. As the pace of the industry increases, resources continue to diminish. The journalists who are left are expected to do more in less time and with fewer resources. Sound stressful? It is.

How Does This Affect Your Role?

It is important for PR professionals to understand the pressures that journalists are under. When you make your pitch, get right to the point with well-researched facts, and provide real value to the journalist.

Because of the added pressure, many journalists now turn to online services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), PR Newswire for Journalists (PRNJ), and ProfNet to gather story ideas. Register for these services to position yourself as a ready resource.

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2. Journalists Face a New Emphasis on Accuracy

The journalism industry is under a microscope when it comes to accuracy — and reporters feel the extra scrutiny acutely. 60% of journalists believe that the public is interested in facts more than feelings or opinions.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that 92% of journalists polled remarked that being right is more important to them than being the first with an exciting story.

How does this affect your role?

This requires you to do your research thoroughly before you make a pitch. Give journalists useful, reliable facts that they can work with and trust.

3. The Relationship Between PR Professionals and Influencers Evolves

Influencer marketing is an increasingly valuable resource in public relations strategy. Influencers are those with large social media followings and/or high industry name recognition that are used by brands to amplify their message, and advocate on their behalf.

In the study, 18% of these influencers polled noted that they rely more on PR professionals than in the past. What accounts for this change?

For one thing, influencers, whose field is still new and experiencing rapid changes, seek guidance as they navigate this new territory. As their industry matures, new rules and regulations surface and impact the way they work.

For instance, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has recently begun to crack down on influencers, and now requires them to disclose their sponsorships to readers. Any who do not comply with this requirement will face a fine.

How Does This Affect Your Role?

As a PR or communications professionals, you can expect to serve as a mediator between brands and influencers. In this capacity, you will be responsible for ensuring that influencers are compensated for their work, and that everyone adheres to the law.

Trust in information is more important than ever and studies show that buyers don’t trust ads, but they do trust peers and experts. –Lee Odden

4. Email Continues as the #1 Way to Reach Journalists

Email is far and away journalists’ preferred contact method — with 92% saying it’s their favorite avenue.

Even with the increasing use of social media by journalists, a mere 2% preferred receiving a pitch on a social network (either publicly or privately). And an increasing amount noted that reaching out with a phone call is an absolute no-no. Do your best to avoid these contact methods whenever possible.

How Does This Affect Your Role?

Always reach out to journalists through their own email address — if you can’t find it directly, never reach out through an editor.

You might try to find a journalist’s email through a Google search, on the media outlet’s website, or through free online tools like Rapportive and ZoomInfo (which has a free and paid service). Paid services like Cision’s Media Database also offer large databases that you can tap into for this information.

5. Journalists Focus on Stories That Fit Their Interests

Some journalists can go through a hundred story pitches in a day. After skimming through that many emails, you can be sure that journalists are more than likely to hit the delete key.

When asked what motivates them to pursue one story over another, 51% of journalists said that they choose stories based on the displayed knowledge of their past work, interests, and strengths.

How Does This Affect Your Role?

Stop spamming journalists with stories that don’t fit their beat. It is more important than ever to do your research, and contact only journalists within your industry. To find the right fit, you can use an online tool like MuckRack, which is known for its vast database of journalists and bloggers.

Show journalists that you chose them specifically because your story fits their interests. Tailor your pitch to the specific journalist you want to use — never send batch emails!

Surprisingly, only 24% noted of journalists expressed a desire to see thorough details about a product, event, or topic. This is down 20% from the same question that was asked last year. Clearly, journalists don’t want to read about your company news — focus instead on how your story fits into their interests.

Key Points to Remember…

  • Journalists are under more pressure and have fewer resources at their disposal than ever before.
  • Journalists are more reliant on accurate, hard facts, rather than opinions or feelings.
  • PR professionals need to do their research so that their pitch fits the beat and interests of the journalist.
  • The role of influencer marketing continues to expand with journalists serving as a go-between the influencer and a brand.
  • Journalists overwhelmingly prefer to be contacted through email rather than social media or phone.

To continue to be effective, your PR tactics must evolve with new changes and challenges. These trends help reshape the PR profession as it strives to keep up with a changing world.