Technology keeps the future bright for public relations

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when I was working as a business magazine editor and we’d receive a lion’s share of press release and photography submissions by post. The process of retyping information and scanning pictures for print was a labour that thankfully has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

It was a similar story working with TV news crews at the time, who’d often turn up to an event mob-handed with reporter, camera-operator and sound specialist in tow. Today it’s more likely to be one person equipped with a 4K camcorder, or you’ll simply be connected to the studio for an interview via Skype through your mobile device or PC.

The most exciting element of new technology for public relations and marketing today is the immediacy with which information can be put together and shared. Speed, efficiency and pricing are the priority for a hungry 24-hour news and social media culture.

Demonstrating return on investment (ROI) and evaluating results more critically is another important area of technological development.

Brands are prioritising media channels that directly show ROI to guarantee that what you create is being seen. This means the divide between PR and marketing has become increasingly blurred. Facebook advertising is a great example. The audience targeting and measurement capabilities are second-to-none, but it still demands excellent and engaging content if it’s going to have the desired effect. This can be a lot more difficult than traditional print editorial in some ways, but if done correctly the response that can be achieved is phenomenal.

A short video or picture can be invaluable in helping tell your story

The other technological colossus is video. Almost five billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day, so if your PR and marketing plans don’t include this medium, now is the time to get active. A short video or picture can be invaluable in helping tell your story on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, as well as promoting longer-term brand awareness.

Looking to the future there is plenty of discussion at the moment about the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on PR. The Holy Grail is to find a tool for PR professionals that understands our workflow, removes errors, helps automatically generate compelling content, and then distributes information to the right audiences while measuring and reporting on success.

I think we’re several years away from anything close to this kind of AI capability now, but anything that helps automate some of the more mundane parts of the job is always very welcome.

Overall the Internet has enabled anyone and everyone to become part of the conversation, which is a huge plus for businesses that need to better engage with their target audiences, but also creates a mass of noise that can make it equally difficult to get your message across.

To stand out from the competition you need to identify what’s newsworthy about your work, achievements and future plans, and then tell these stories through credible and impactful media to audiences who matter.

Technology offers some great delivery mechanisms to achieve this, but don’t forget – content is king!