From time to time, the idea that public relations could be dying resurfaces. People like me, who are in PR, often feel this might be true every time a client chooses to go silent or when they decide to end their contract with us.

Yet in a career spanning over 23 years, I have also seen clients coming back.

There is a very simple explanation to this: public relations is the art of communicating, and communication will always be crucial for a brand’s credibility.

It is when companies, and clients, stop communicating that they re-discover the power of public relations. And, if done properly and strategically, this becomes vital for most companies’ success and growth.

The PR industry has seen a massive transformation over the past few years. Gone are the days of relying solely on printed press releases handed out to a few media houses which, in days gone by, would have covered most of the market.

PR, today, requires the creation of content for a myriad different platforms that target different audiences, with different sensibilities.

The first important step in PR is knowing a client and the brand values that need to be communicated. Public relations goes beyond the ability to craft the right content. It involves the ability to sensitise any particular client to want to communicate in ways that best appeal to their respective audiences and in line with the brand’s values and consumers’ expectations.

Because communicating is vital to any entity, wanting to communicate goes beyond the ‘business to customer’ realm. Companies and organisations of any type also need to communicate to other important stakeholders, such as investors, employees and all those who in some way or another, come in regular contact with the company’s operations.

Traditional media vs blogs and influencers

When discussing the evolution of PR, we could easily look at how brands are increasingly looking at gaining more exposure through bloggers and influencers. Arguing the fact that brands and products are getting the endorsement of third-party ‘influencers’ who then communicate the same products to their own audiences, could be true.

However, what does this contribute to the brand other than perhaps a wider audience? Is PR now being reduced to simply paying third parties and have them talk platitudes about your product out from a script just for the sake of widening our audience circle?

Are end consumers expected to just accept a product’s value because someone is being paid to talk positively about it?

Influencers and online content creators are already caught up in a ferocious competition for the most followers and subscribers. And as they scramble to secure more products to represent, they continue to contribute to a busier online landscape, a landscape where it is astoundingly easy for anyone to publish and circulate content forcing audiences to scrutinise and apply better judgement of the information they are being fed.

Vying for consumers’ attention online, therefore, has not only become more competitive, but a constant struggle to prove credibility and authenticity.

Against this backdrop, the printed media can reclaim its validity, primarily because of the limited space on offer. Which means that when an editor, notwithstanding the limitation of space, chooses to publish an article, a press release, or an interview, this almost ‘validates’ and ‘authenticates’ the content published.

Therefore, while limited space in print media makes PR even more challenging, it is exactly this challenge that gives more value to the PR work that successfully gains printed space.

When your next pitch makes it to the printed press, that might possibly be the biggest endorsement of credibility that your client could aspire to.

James Vella Clark is PR and Communications Manager at Corporate Identities

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