What search tells us about the PR narrative



Posted: In: Blogs Industry Insights & Trends

Woot! It’s 2014, so let’s get to it.

This year, our company goal (in addition to increasing sales #obviously) is to continue the conversation around how we can collectively increase the profile, productivity, and ultimately performance of the PR industry.

Yes, data (the RIGHT kind of data) is required to do that…but so is a paradigm shift of sorts. One in which PR is no longer pushed to the back of the line or relegated to sitting outside the decision making circle.

Nope. Those days are over. At least if we have anything to do with it.

In an interesting exercise, Leta (our PR Engineer) did a quick “search audit” with Patrick (our Chief Architect) to unearth the top 20 search terms related to public relations. The results? Slightly scary.

PR word cloud

But before we jump into the word cloud translation…let’s start here: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a thousand times more until every individual, business owner, company (and even my Grandma) on the planet understands these 4 things:

#1 PR doesn’t stand for press release. So stop hiring PR pros to write your press releases. Hire a writer to do it. Or do it yourself. It’s a waste of their time and your money. See related post here.

Paradigm shift: When you have something to announce, don’t think “I need to write a press release”; instead think “How does this fit into the narrative of our company and how will it affect our customer?” THEN figure out the story you are going to tell to the people who care.

#2 Press releases sent out over newswires don’t do squat for building a narrative around your business. P.S. the smartest-fastest-richest company in the world named Google no longer gives press releases SEO value. Get the hint? Wires apply to a small fraction of companies who are being monitored by analysts and whose value can go up and down when news is released in a commoditized manner.

#3 Building a narrative around your business is the future of PR. Actually it’s right now. Hire a PR pro/agency who can assist you in understanding how you fit into the marketplace; and then can insert you into conversations when/where it’s relevant. Media relations is a small part of their job; content strategy and creative storytelling is a HUGE part of this shift, as is helping companies build their owned media channels. Think Dell’s Tech Page One.

NEWSFLASH >> Budget for PR? Stop thinking of PR outcomes ONLY in terms of driving traffic and conversions. This is definitely a long-term outcome, but you must also look at them as specialists who are paid to understand your story, write compelling content and leverage their relationships across the board to build the awareness of your brand. It’s an investment, not a cost center.

#4 The future of PR depends on storytellers who can also look at data and infer possible outcomes. Whether they are internal to your business, or you outsource them, these folks (“PR Engineers” – IMHO will be the most sought after PR professional of the future) can develop an ongoing strategy for pushing out content to the correct channels where your audience is watching, reading, sharing, commenting, buying, and picking their noses.

Understanding current PR misconceptions “Search” is a super stealthy way to gain insights into the problems around the PR industry narrative. Here’s what we found during the PR search audit.

  1. Public relations jobs
  2. What is public relations
  3. Public relations definition
  4. PR agencies
  5. Relations specialist
  6. Public relations specialist
  7. Public relations manager
  8. Marketing companies
  9. PR firm
  10. Relations
  11. Media relations
  12. PR jobs
  13. Public relations career
  14. Public relations salary
  15. PR newswire
  16. Free press release
  17. PR
  18. Public relations career
  19. Press release
  20. Submit press release

My personal favorite is #6 – “Relations specialist.” That sounds…well…special. What do people think PR folks do, exactly?

#2 and #3 are also telling. I can’t imagine anyone ever Googling “What is Advertising” or “What is Plumbing” or “What is Dentistry”.

And notice #15, #16, #19, and #20 all have to do with press releases. Argh! Drat!

As I mentioned before, this year is all about cutting through the fat, parsing through the data, getting down to business and understanding what’s really important for our shifting PR future.

Let’s start here, at the beginning, because it’s as good a place as any…and try to move PR beyond its current “identity crisis.”

Let’s redefine – FOR SEARCH SAKE – what PR really is, does, and the value it brings to the table.

Welcome to 2014. It’s time to change the narrative.