Stay away from those who tell you otherwise.

The practice of public relations is undergoing a monumental shift. The ever-evolving digital world is changing how we communicate. For many public relations firms, keeping up with these changes can be a daunting task.

However, one thing in the PR industry remains the same. Simply put, it is about relationships. Yes, relationships! Many leaders at PR agencies still believe all they need to do is send out press releases or create social media content for their clients.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, a press release can be an integral part of any good public relations campaign (even as they die and the tech industry shifts towards simple blog posts). And yes, creating good social media content helps, too. However, building lasting relationships with traditional media outlets and bloggers will take your media and public relations efforts to the next level.

Strong relationships and storytelling have always been at the heart of good public relations. Today, with newsrooms shrinking and massive editorial layoffs, relationships are of the utmost importance in telling your story.

All too often I hear senior marketing folks — from blue chip companies to startup companies — questioning the value of working with traditional media. For many, simply issuing a media release and creating canned social media content is enough.

Why? Because that is the flawed advice, they are getting from their PR firm. The truth is this: Companies that receive the most ink are those that work with PR firms who have built long-standing relationships and are creative.

Time to Hire?

When it comes time to hire your next PR firm, keep the following in mind:

  1. If you’re a company that wants to create a buzz in the security industry, ask them who the top writers and bloggers are in the space.
  2. Are you working with the PR firm’s top talent? If not, why? When PR firms pitch for new business, they always bring in their best people. Make sure they remain on your team when the work starts and you don’t fall victim to bait-and-switch tactics with less-experienced staff who may not have built the relationships needed to earn you coverage. 
  3. Is your PR firm reaching the audiences that matter? Whether it’s traditional or digital media outlets, your PR firm needs to understand your demographics and how best to reach your audience. Every story has a different value set, in the age of data make sure they have a way of measuring a placements effectiveness.
  4. Do they get your business? The only time writing a press release or crafting a pitch if difficult if when the PR talent doesn’t understand the true business process and objective. Make sure they understand your brand and business inside and out quickly.
  5. Technology. Chances are your business revolves around the changing tech landscape, make sure your PR team is looking out for trends in PR and exploring new platforms to enhance your brand’s message at the customer level.

If used correctly, PR can be a powerful tool and a cost effective one as well.

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