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Information technology and the proliferation of social media has overhauled the PR industry permanently from what it used to be a decade or two ago. The news delivery mechanism and the way in which news is consumed is today lightning fast and reaches remote corners of the globe within seconds.

Gone are the days when generating press coverage meant making umpteen phone calls to engage journalists and editors. Today, PR professionals can look up contacts online, and interact with them instantly via email and social media, to push content. Technology has given them real-time access to a highly engaged audience and the chance to connect with them instantly via the preferred communication vehicle.

Evolution of the 24/7 news cycle

The Internet-dependent audience no longer waits to hear the news on the 9 PM bulletin or read about it in the next day’s newspaper. Consumers today are continuously and actively seeking information 24/7. This fundamental change in news consumption provides PR professionals with real-time access to a vibrant but demanding audience. In the context of the current all-day-every-day news cycle, PR professionals can deliver news at any time and know someone is listening and ready to respond. Social media also provides the opportunity to give regular updates as part of a crisis management plan, when things go wrong.

In this era of social media and tech changes, PR professionals have had to up their game to remain relevant. The Internet has made it possible for them to instantly push news out to the entire world. With the number of news outlets growing exponentially, PR practitioners now have thousands of delivery vehicles available at their fingertips. But they need to select their channels carefully and hone their messages in order to break through the clutter.

Proliferation of social media

With the explosion of social media, PR professionals can now connect with young influencers to build a symbiotic relationship. There now exists an entire generation of young people or millennials who have grown up online. Their life revolves around social networking websites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and user-generated content communities like YouTube. All of these tools have turned into touch points that allow PR professionals to better understand the audience better, resulting in better outreach and better outcomes.

At first, many PR professionals used social media to keep up with the times and engage with this generation, but now they see the value that social media tools provide in creating brand awareness. A short video or picture on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter can be more effective than any press release or article. Here are some instances of how social media tools have impacted public relations activities:

  • WhatsApp PR forums like One Source, Mad about PR, Indian PR Forum have amassed thousands of members and have become repositories of information for media contacts, news briefs, events and journo allowing sharing of media contacts and updates.
  • Media Movements is yet another platform on Facebook that can be accessed by public relations professionals to connect with media.
  • Twitter is also being used by public relations professionals as a platform to disseminate information to different media houses. PR professionals follow reporters and writers on Twitter to build relationships. The platform also facilitates sharing of content via press releases and photos and also communication on discussion boards.

Measurement of PR campaigns with technology tools

News monitoring agencies and social media monitoring agencies like Meltwater and Impact help keep track of news and evaluate coverage. These media monitoring platforms help brands decode billions of online conversations, extract valuable insights and utilize them to stay ahead of competition. Using technological tools, PR professionals can connect with media influencers, quantify the PR impact, know the share of voice and showcase results with stakeholders.

Digital public relations platforms such as Skribe are specifically designed for PR and communications professions, allowing them to connect with media and influencers on a wide scale. Using such tools, PR professionals can now access thousands of influencers across traditional, online and social media. Moreover, such platforms also help you track the conversations and their impact on your brand.

Technology’s lasting impact on PR

There is little doubt therefore that technology and the internet have changed public relations for the better. PR professionals now have the power to instantly share their client’s news and content around the world with billions of influencers. At the same time, the web is a great leveler for businesses and regardless of your size if you have a compelling story to share, new-age technology can help you spread the word cost effectively.
Even with myriad tech advances and innovations, no machine or device can replace the human touch and PR professionals remain integral to the creation and consumption of information. To keep up with changing trends and growing audience demands, they must understand that technology is as important as the stories told on behalf of their clients.

By Priyan DC, CEO Star Squared PR. The author is an avid writer and a much sought after communication professional. He has championed the cause of many leading brands and today mentors clients and communication professionals alike.