The Science of PR

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On June 30, 2016

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Let’s face it, most of us in the PR industry probably never took home a science quiz our parents wanted to hang with pride on the fridge, or received a math exam back without red pen scribbled all over it. There’s a reason I opted for two math classes and a foreign language course over those three-hour-long labs in college. While every PR pro loves a good brainstorm session or pitching angle, incorporating science, measurement and data to inform and evaluate campaigns is now equally important.

My colleague and I recently attended PRSA’s Boston Chapter PRXNE16 event at UMass Boston and came away with some fascinating insights into the world of public relations. Our field is changing faster than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ marriage.

Two key trends struck us both, including:

  1. PR is getting harder

For every one journalist, there are four PR professionals. Does that ratio scare you? It should. That means that with every pitch you make, there are at least four other PR pros targeting that same journalist with their own pitch. If it feels like your job is getting harder, you’re right. During the opening keynote, we learned how newspapers are not only declining, but our clients’ audiences are simply overwhelmed with information, making the chances of anyone reading our secured byline slimmer than ever. Social media can help, but it’s just another channel to add to the information congestion.

We need to be smarter with how we approach the media, and shouldn’t only rely on standard, outdated forms of communication. There are plenty of tools available for PR pros to get ahead of the curve and help drive actual results and SEO to piggyback our storytelling efforts.

  1. Data-driven results are everything

Have you ever had someone tell you there’s no way to measure PR? Well, they obviously didn’t attend PRXNE, or have had their head under a rock. This doesn’t mean PR pros should turn to social media for useful, measureable results; the most important thing is agreeing to measurable goals with the client up front. That should dictate everything else.

During the ‘what every PR pro should know about SEO’ session, we dispelled a common myth: social media doesn’t directly impact SEO. When PR pros try to use social alone to measure results, it won’t satisfy clients’ needs.

Platforms such as Google Analytics, providing real data linking to SEO, can help. Using backlinks to your client’s website also help. Quality content, put in the right places, is key.

Leading with data, proving results, and thinking creatively have become the standard to which PR professionals are now held by clients. Agencies struggling to meet this standard need to either get out or shape up – in the same way Kim re-evaluated and married Kanye West (although arguably he is worse than Kris, but that is neither here nor there). Maintaining a good relationship might work well initially, but it will only get you so far. Results are the key.

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