By Dave Yonkman
PR firms that crank out boilerplate content and bill by the hour might as well snail-mail handwritten press releases about how their client is “thrilled” about something.
Technology and consumer preferences for receiving information change daily. Google – which dominates online search engines with 90 percent market share – updates its algorithm at a minimum of 400 to 500 times per year. The supreme social player, Facebook, regularly changes how it presents messages in its newsfeed. New influencers break out on blogs and vlogs every day.
Professionals who incorporate measurable analytics gracefully into the fundamental need to tell a brand’s story will earn the most money in 2018.
“Agile marketers are constantly experimenting, adapting and pivoting to determine how to bring the right content to the right audiences at the right time on the platforms and channels where they congregate and consume,” says John Corey, president of Greentarget.
New Avenues & Influencers
TV and radio producers, as well as editors and reporters at legacy newspapers are no longer the gatekeepers of news. Consumers curate their own content and decide how to receive it.
This fracturing of media will force PR heads to compartmentalize services and focus on the methods that best work for select audiences, Kimberly Eberl of Motion PR says. It demands that agencies build deeper relationships with online opinionators, bloggers and mid-tier publications that people historically do not think of as PR.
“The agency of the future will take a more holistic view of how people interact with information and become nimble enough in their offerings to tailor their strategies for every client,” Eberl continues.
Search engine optimization, social, blogs, online forums, customer reviews, webinars, informational videos, apps and the proliferation of influencers shattered the old PR model.
The challenge in 2018 lies in how to measure traffic, which customers have come to expect.
Tools such as Google analytics, Facebook Insights and more powerful platforms enable pros to compile the necessary reporting.
“Being able to showcase the online buzz that you have garnered for your client will be crucial, especially for those who would rather pick up the newspaper to read an article about their business,” Emily Trogdon with The Brandon Agency says.
Pricing models have changed to reflect the new Wild West of public relations, with the nebulous line item invoice wasting away, according to Gerard T. Rogan, COO of Dreamweaver Brand Communications.
Inna Semenyuk, founder of InnavationLabs and SnapchatDaily.com, says that businesses can still find individuals who charge as little as $100 to write a press release to a few hundred dollars for basic media outreach.
Then there are sophisticated PR experts who command an average fee of $7,000 per month or a PR agency that charges $15,000 per month. With the latter, customers will work with a team of experienced PR people who write detailed media plans that include customized pitches for specific journalists.
“That's the way things are right now,” Semenyuk adds.
Moving forward, she says, PR companies will need to provide new services, including training in digital storytelling and dedicating substantial time to create and define a press strategy. With the right story and story angles, firms can charge higher fees and run campaigns more efficiently.
For example, they might begin with $15,000 for strategic planning and client training and then build out tailored digital content. They will bill on a project basis, with the price defined by the extent and complexity of the undertaking and level of talent involved.
The More Things Change
Regardless of the medium, storytelling will always rank paramount in the land of public relations.
The only constant in 2018 will be that the topography will mature dramatically, meaning that the conventional, nuts-and-bolts expertise public relations professionals offer is as relevant as ever, according to David Erickson, vice president of online marketing for Karwoski & Courage.
“You still need the skills to develop relationships with those who command an audience, be that traditional media, online publishers or individuals with large followings,” Erickson says. “The difference is that the tools and channels through which we develop those relationships are changing. The trick is to demonstrate your understanding of and savvy in using these tools.”
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Dave Yonkman is a former Washington Correspondent for Newsmax Media, Capitol Hill Communications Director and the Founding Principal of DYS Media, LLC.