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PR Essentials: Your toolkit for building visibility, influence and trust in today's noisy digital-first world

Opportunities beyond conventional tactics: Here are three trends to consider!

In today’s noisy digital marketplace, where bullshit and overhype is the name of the game, standing out in a way that’s both credible and respectful of consumers’ time and intellect is both an art and a science. 

But mostly, it’s about humanity: telling stories, adding value, sparking conversation, building relationships, serving a cause that’s bigger than the products and services we provide. Unless, of course, you’re a bro’ marketer with a solitary eye for the $$$ 😜

For business owners, social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders, this means embracing the role of chief storyteller for your brand, and not just through the media either. 

Chances are, in order to build trust and connection with people in your desired target audience, then you’re going to have to leverage multiple communications channels, with a consistent story, message and tone of voice.

For instance, communicating directly through owned media (podcast, blog, newsletter, live streams etc), social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok), and/or via an influential intermediary such as a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, power LinkedIn user etc - or a more traditional media outlet such as a vertical publication that services your industry (earned media). 

All of these tactics, my friend, are part of today’s PR toolkit.

[ N.B. Paid media also has a role, but whether it’s part of what you’re doing in a marketing sense or falls within a PR remit, will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. It’s a bit of a grey area, so we’ll note - but not cover - it here today ]

Authentically communicating with your audience

The age-old practice of public relations has evolved tenfold; it's no longer just about press releases and generating media coverage (as the media, and Hollywood, would have you believe!), but about reaching - and authentically communicating with - your audience across multiple mediums, both directly and via independent influential channels. 

These channels may represent what we’d call traditional media, such as talkback radio or a trade journal, but more likely today the media outlet will be run by an individual who has built an audience through their own efforts e.g. a podcast or email newsletter. 

Sometimes, the media owner might be a business that’s nailing content marketing, and rather than spend money on advertising, has chosen to create their own branded channel.

One thing I know for certain: there’s a heck of a lot more to public relations than what’s generally reported.

Understandably, this is why so few business owners get it right. But there’s a downside to all of this, as it means they don’t get to squeeze the most potential out of their business (which is what PR can help you do).

Develop your own understanding of PR

My advice is to start developing your own ideas and philosophy around what PR, content and digital communications might look like in your professional world, and how you might leverage the various elements for the benefit of your brand and your business. 

It’s important not to allow people who don’t understand the intricacies of public relations to influence your thinking around what is and what isn’t PR (and by default, what PR can, and cannot do, for your business). 

For example, just yesterday I saw an article of (yet) another digital marketer trying to define what PR is, and failing miserably. Unfortunately, misinformed articles like this are quite common in the business world. It’s little wonder business owners and leaders get confused about it all!

Tools of Trade: The Modern PR Toolkit

With this in mind, let’s have a look at today’s PR toolkit.

As you can see from the diagram above, it’s multifaceted: owned media is just as crucial as social media engagement, with earned media being the ‘icing on the cake’, with the ability to turbo-charge the reach and credibility of your business, personal or nonprofit brand.  

Let’s break them down quickly …

Owned Media: This includes any channel that you own and control, for example, your website content, blog posts that demonstrate thought leadership, or email newsletters that keep subscribers informed (in turn building trust and relatability).

Social Media: Each platform serves a different purpose; LinkedIn might be ideal for B2B networking and demonstrating your expertise and professional bona fides, while TikTok could amplify creative campaigns aimed at younger demographics.

Earned Media: Traditional outlets still hold sway, but don't overlook niche online publications and podcasts that often cater to specific interests more effectively than general news sources.

And let’s not forget premium signature content such as e-books, reports, whitepapers and branded events - these can play significant roles in establishing professional authority within an industry. I like to slot these under owned media, because it’s content that you own and control the distribution of.

Opportunities beyond conventional tactics

By understanding the PR toolkit, and the media landscape more broadly, business owners and leaders can spot opportunities to reach audiences with their story and message in ways their competitors can’t, or won’t. 

Let’s look at some trends …

TREND #1: Disruption of traditional media

The decline in quality content from professional newspapers and magazines presents a golden chance for individuals willing to contribute valuable insights. For example:

  • Opinion pieces for brand-owned publications: Businesses are investing in content marketing; sometimes they are staying small and using in-house resources, but others are going bigger and thus need external experts who can produce engaging material consistent with their branding efforts. FOR EXAMPLE: Recruitment company, Aquent  

  • Guest interviews on podcasts: Sharing your expertise on interview-style podcasts can be a powerful way to boost your personal brand presence (and that of your company, if you own one). FOR EXAMPLE - Reputation Revolution 

TREND #2: Increased sophistication (and affordability) of technology

  • Podcasting continues to grow, as we know, but the audio-on-demand category is starting to splinter and become even more niche with the emergence of private podcast feeds. FOR EXAMPLE - Tarzan Kay reads her emails (audio newsletter)

  • The resurgence of email newsletters off the back of the likes of Substack and Beehiiv (the platform that distributes this newsletter) has meant anyone can now set up and run their own newsletter-based media channel, instantly, and for free (plus paid upgrades). FOR EXAMPLE - Josh Rowe’s For Every Scale 

TREND #3: The return of in-person events

  • It’s taken some time, and while it might not ever reach pre-pandemic levels again, anecdotally, I’m seeing a strong return to in-person events, including smaller community meet-ups. This means organisers of events large, small and micro are always on the hunt for good talent - is this an opportunity for you, or someone in your business?

  • Taking into consideration two intersecting trends - the sophistication and affordability of technology (as per above), plus the emergence of private branded communities - we are seeing more virtual events taking place. But I want to draw your attention to ‘live-streamed micro-virtual events’ that are a key feature of many online communities today. These often include expert interviews and masterclasses, providing an ideal opportunity for experts and emerging thought leaders to get in front of new audiences in a powerful way.

Summing up, the world has moved on and traditional PR methods have taken a backseat as businesses and personal brands now have direct access to their audience through various online platforms.

But it’s not about picking tactics willy-nilly and running with them. Eventually, you’re going to trip up over yourself and get disheartened.

Like everything when it comes to PR, content and digital communications, the keys are developing the right mindset, thinking strategically and plotting a roadmap to provide direction, and then executing with passion and purpose.

Oh, and getting creative and experimenting with things once the above ‘foundations’ are in place, will in all likelihood put distance between you and your competitors.





I help business owners become clear and confident in how they leverage PR, content and digital communications to build their brand and grow revenue.

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