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  • Ariff Communications

5 Reasons Why PR Matters More Than Ever

Public relations has many fans, from legendary figures like Steve Jobs to Bill Gates. Yet PR doesn’t always command the same respect as other disciplines, like advertising or digital marketing (data analysis in marketing is on the rise too).

PR is still a bit mysterious to some. By contrast, the advertising business is linked with iconic characters like Don Draper of “Mad Men,” while public relations is more likely to evoke Samantha Jones.

Yet with the rise of social media and the profound digital disruption of advertising, PR has come into its own. Here’s why it’s more important than it’s ever been.

1) It has credibility

In the age of “fake news,” credibility counts. In Malaysia in particular, what we’re seeing is the growing number of news sites, some more niche than others, but perhaps unbeknown to some, these news sites still curate content from the mainstream media. Sceptics aside, mainstream media organisations are still seen as serious fact-based journalism.

The public is increasingly skeptical of our institutions and perhaps rightly so, but despite the disruption of traditional media business, journalism still matters.

In fact, a new study on public trust in media shows that while trust in media platforms where we seek news is down over last year, trust in journalism is actually on the rise.

What’s more, a brand or personal reputation that is built through executive speeches, user reviews, bylined content, and earned media coverage will enjoy the credibility that comes from implied endorsement by authoritative sources. That beats self-promotion every time.

2) PR is about influence

This relates to the third-party endorsement factor but goes beyond the credibility of earned media. Our expertise is understanding the art and science of building relationships. Through these relationships, we earn the right to try to join conversations, especially tough conversations and maybe even change minds. To us this refers to the applications of PR skills once used exclusively in media relations to social community management, influencer relations, and content marketing.

3) PR is about reputation.

What is more valuable than a brand (or personal) reputation? PR is a powerful tool for building reputation over time, and that power has been greatly magnified by digital and social media. A glowing review (or unfortunate video interview) can blow up on social platforms in the time it takes to say, “call the PR firm.”

4) Earned media boosts SEO

The typical PR team’s role has expanded beyond generating earned media through articles or segments in established outlets, but earned coverage is still a centrepiece of many PR campaigns, and with good reason. Established publications that link to a brand will boost search listings due to the sheer power of their digital domains.

And since Google decided to treat mentions as “implied links,” they work hard, too. Anyone who has managed a content marketing program understands that it can work in a more enduring way than digital advertising. High-quality, “evergreen” content can live for years, driving SEO ranking and attracting traffic for a minimal investment.

5) PR outcomes are measurable

Today, the outcomes of a PR program are more measurable than they’ve ever been, thanks to a concerted effort by the industry, but also to digital tools. Of course, metrics will always vary by program, but even with simple (and free) tools like Google trends and access to web analytics, we can pinpoint the impact of earned and owned content and social sharing with a fair degree of accuracy.

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