What a Difference a Decade Makes

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  • August 24, 2016
  • Helen Murphy

Last week marked my six-year anniversary at INK PR. It also means I’ve been doing this PR agency gig for a full decade. A lot can happen in 10 years, people. Ten years ago we didn’t have the iPhone, Twitter was brand new, and the cloud was simply something you found in the sky. There are a number of things that have changed in the PR world, too. Here are a few of the differences I find most striking:

The word “viral” was more commonly used in conjunction with “I’m sick. Don’t come near me”
The term viral marketing has been around for a while. Ten years ago it was normally associated with campaigns that were shared via word-of-mouth. I have a distinct memory of a friend telling me about Burger King’s Subservient Chicken site. (For those not familiar with this campaign, you would type in commands for a man dressed in a chicken suit and he would do your bidding. Yes, the Internet was just as strange and wonderful back then as it is now.) Successful viral programs often had to have uniqueness and a large budget backing up that uniqueness. Now, with social media, anyone has the potential to “go viral.” What does this means for PR? Social media has created an even playing field for brands large and small to go viral. It also means that audience attention is more difficult to capture.

The world has gotten a lot smaller
When I was a fresh-faced, young PR newbie, I worked on an account where we threw pretty awesome neighborhood events to draw in customers to a bank branch. The events included free food, drinks, and activities for the family, plus giveaways and the chance to win money. They were costly to host, but they did attract a fair number of new neighborhood customers. Would an event like this work today? Or would the above-mentioned viral nature of social media attract a large number of free-food and giveaway seekers outside of the bank’s service area? Social media has made us all more connected, which has truly shrunk the world we live in. Localized events and campaigns have to be approached in a new way. Conversely, it is easier than ever to reach a large audience provided you offer the right incentives.

A news announcement is more than a press release
When I started working, a press release and pitch (phone and email) were the two main tools used when announcing a new product or campaign. Now, they are just one component of a much larger plan. PR in 2016 shouldn’t simply be a pitch, release, and a prayer that some outlet writes about you. PR in 2016 is all about the integrated campaigns. How will we amplify the news on social media ? How will we share our thought leadership around this news on the blog and through contributed articles and LinkedIn? How will we enable the sales team to share the news with customers and prospects?

Social media and content marketing really changed the name of the game in the past 10 years. What will happen to PR in the next 10? How PR increasingly impacts – and proves and measures its impact – on brand value, digital and SEO success, and sales conversions, will assuredly be part of its evolution.

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