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PUBLIC RELATIONS IN THE DIGITAL AGE

By June 8, 2021No Comments

The core point of marketing is to listen and respond to customers. Beyond the chase to solely dialogue with customers, organizations now seek to build mutually beneficial long-lasting relationship with the public, which includes customers, employees, shareholders, government and suppliers.

Public Relations, an integral part of the marketing mix, consist of all communications geared towards cultivating favorable relations for organizations and products with its publics. It involves creating awareness and building trust through a variety of communication tools and channels.

Traditionally, PR practices include reputation management, crisis communications, press release distributions, strategic communication, events coordination and/or sponsorship amongst others. The main focus of press outreaches, which is a prominent activity, is on traditional media outlets. There is no doubt about the pros recorded from using the traditional channels overtime. Some of which include;
• The ability to reach a wide range of audience
• Long term brand building and awareness
• Top-notch editorial quality
• Credibility through the use of highly recognized media
• Being identified as a thought leader or leading commentator especially in corporate communications

However, it may be difficult to track exact measurements of audience reach because it requires lots of patience and extra research work with data that may not be readily available. Agreeably, PR is much more than media placements. The advent of the internet, new technology and interactive media has changed the face of communication and every industry has found itself evolving in order to gain competitive advantage.

Customers are now members of a global village with a ‘global consciousness’. Organizations are also trying to take advantage of an almost unlimited access to information while engaging their publics in new and innovative ways – to facilitate long-term relationships. Even the media has recorded a surge in supply; change in audience media habits and even audience types.

With the level of consumer enthusiasm towards digital media, new ways of developing, strengthening or influencing relationships with public has to be adapted. Therefore, the introduction of modern (digital) public relations practices should not be neglected.

The following are some of the digital tactics employed in PR:
• Online publications, press release and reviews
• Content marketing
• Web design and development
• Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
• Influencer marketing
• Gaining backlinks
• Securing press hits
• Social media campaigns
• Online reviews

Also, consistent efforts in digital media will lead to long term brand building; build brand trust; generate leads and accomplish PR objective of an organization in a dynamic way. In terms of media placement cost, digital media is more cost effective.

Meanwhile, many have confused the above digital tactics that are employed in public relations as the entire operation. This cannot be farther from the truth. For example, influencer marketing (reviews and shout-out of products by highly respected/influential persons) does not serve the same purpose for effective crisis management, especially with a part of the public that is not under ‘influence’. Neither does a social media campaign guarantee a positive organizational reputation in its entirety.

While digital allows for interactivity, it is difficult to control the reach, spread and impact of information especially when it is negative. Although there are certain tools designed to address this and many other concerns regarding the adoption of digital practices in PR.

Some of these tools include:
• Google Alerts: is an innovative tool for reputation management as it allows quick response and management of unfavorable response online.
• Search/Social/Brand Management Tools like Google Search, Social Media platforms, MailChimp (or mailing tools). They provide organization with wider exposure and allows for consistent updates.
• Google Analytics or Buzzsumo: the measure traffic and track Google and social media metrics respectively.
• Online news site and many more are tools available for effective communication, monitoring and evaluation.

An integration of both traditional and digital PR tactics is bound to create an upward spiral in achieving organization’s Public Relations objectives and marketing objectives in the long run. As PR continues to evolve, the need to educate organizations on the importance of combining both PR efforts and to enlighten members of the new media of their clearly defined roles in Public Relations practices is key.

Written by: Anuoluwapo Adediran

UNILAG Student Ambassador

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