The popularity and use of free publicity historically increases when the economy tanks. In the midst of this seemingly extended downturn, PR is certainly gaining priority in the construction marketing mix. At the same time, PR is changing significantly. So how can you refine your PR to realize greater results?
As always, please share your comments and personal experience to bring some new perspectives to our discussion!
PR Has Changed
So, how has PR changed? Not to overstate, but in the last few years PR has changed more than in the last 30 years combined. How? The changing roles of journalists and marketing practitioners, and the rapidly increasing use of social media in PR.
No doubt, the recession has taken a toll on journalists with layoffs, and those remaining having greater workloads, tightening budgets, and added responsibilities of writing for multiple mediums. According to the 2010 PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey, 59% of traditional (print) journalists are the author of a blog, and are also expected to contribute to online news, Twitter and other channels.
With greater workload, the research tools used by journalists might identify opportunities for marketing practitioners. Not surprisingly, Google and other search engines rank highest. 95% in 2010 per the PRWeek survey, followed by company websites (93%), Wikipedia (47%), newswires (36%), social networks (33%), and blogs (32%).
Social Media Emergence and PR
While the hype of social media pervades marketing practitioners, the use of social media for publicity is growing rapidly, and becoming a major part of both journalist and practitioners PR activities.
According to the survey, in 2010 79% of journalists have a Facebook profile, 46% have a LinkedIn profile, and 58% have a Twitter profile. Only 11% have no profiles. Twitter realized the most dramatic increase from just 22% in 2009.
In addition, 43% of PR practitioners use social networks to pitch media, with 76% using Twitter and 49% using Facebook. One of the key reasons practitioners use social media? Search engine results! Often posts to social media channels rank higher than even company websites for key search terms. And as noted above, journalists use search engines 95% of the time for research.
A discussion of PR and social media would be incomplete without acknowledging the growing importance of blogs. Per above, 59% of traditional (print) journalists write blogs. In addition, 45% of journalists have quoted a blog in an article, and journalists use both general blogs (24%) and company blogs (23%) for research. On the practitioner side, 66% are targeting bloggers more than before. “The corporate, brand or subject matter blog can be the hub of an integrated PR program, using social media channels for distributing blogposts and other news,” suggests Neil M. Brown, Chairman of the Construction Marketing Association.
The Newest Rules of PR
So what are the implications of the changing PR landscape to practitioners or client-side marketers? Clearly PR strategies and tactics should embrace these changes, and leverage the opportunities.
“Now more than ever, practitioners should be deploying blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube profiles. Wikipedia pages. Bookmark and Share links on website pages. The blog and all profiles should be linked to the website, which should have RSS feeds. News announcements should be formatted to include links to these assets and other relevant information sources,” shares Neil M. Brown.
The Construction Marketing Association (CMA) is a good example of effective PR and integrated social media. Heather Hawes, Program Manager for the association and Construction Marketing Advisors agency sums it up. “Just a couple of years ago, we would email a news announcement to trade editors. We still distribute to trade editors, but we also post news on our websites and blogs with RSS feeds, use Twitter, Facebook, and social bookmarking tools to distribute the news and submit to free news distribution services. If the news item is big or strategic enough, we will submit to paid distribution services. Finally, we can measure placements with alerts and searches. Its faster, deeper and more measurable.”
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Next in the CMA Series: The Newest Rules of PR: Distribution Options.