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Public Relations in the Digital Era

When public relations was first introduced to the world in the early 1900s, it looked quite differently than it does now. There were no established ethics or guidelines for the industry. The first PR campaign convinced young women that smoking cigarettes was an act of rebellion  associated with women’s equality. (No, really.) However, the goal of PR has remained largely the same: utilize communications mediums to influence public opinion. Today, everything is increasingly reliant on technology and there are more mediums to choose from than ever. PR can look a lot of different ways.

In the digital era, public relations is…

Retweets + Hashtags

Aptly named for its ability to connect people, social media is now an important piece of the PR puzzle. Social sites can be used to directly engage with key audiences, if brands are strategic about their use of the platforms. When companies are intentional about the posts they like, share, retweet and comment on, an online personality develops. This digital persona is a useful tool for relating to followers and people to engage, which is why social media strategy plays a big part in clients’ campaigns at Hirons.

Research + Influencers

Although social media allows brands to share their own content, organic coverage from third parties are viewed as more credible. PR professionals conduct research to find influencers who might be interested in sharing their content. Software services like Meltwater can help simplify that search by sifting through publications, journalists and bloggers. With advanced targeting technology and a wealth of information databases available, brands have the ability to pitch stories to a few key individuals rather than relying on traditional mass media methodology.

Increasing reliance on digital tools doesn’t mean that traditional PR tactics are completely extinct. Even the digital era, public relations is still…

Conversations + Events

Digital media coverage can help portray a message or promote a brand, but sometimes there’s no better tactic than talking face-to-face. The combined powers of speech and body language can completely change how messages are received. In some instances, the public may have opinions or questions that cannot properly be attended to via text. If a need for in-person conversations or events is identified, PR practitioners help clients plan and execute those meetings.

Trust + Relationships

As the worlds of paid and earned media become further intertwined, it can be difficult to identify the separation between the two. Public relations as it’s traditionally known can get lost in the mix. Brands might have the ability to pay to get their message placed on a particular website or endorsed by the right person, but paid tactics aren’t the right answer every time. A combination of paid and earned media is often needed to successfully execute a campaign, which means PR professionals still need to take the time to cultivate relationships with their key audiences and local media members.


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