Written by: Ophelia Phu
What does PR look like in 2021?
With the pandemic-based business shut downs a hallmark of 2020, financial services leaders are considering where to focus their efforts in 2021. One question we’re often asked is how to approach public relations (PR) now, in all the mess, for maximum effectiveness.
PR, which is the deliberate effort to establish an understanding between an organisation and its audience has been somewhat slow to expand into the digital realm, but at BlueChip, we see digital PR as an important focus for the future of PR.
Another focus of ours at BlueChip is that the practice of journalism – an intrinsic arm of public relations – is also experiencing shifts. Today, and moving into the future, publishing not only belongs to journalists and the media houses, businesses can and should take control of the content that is published. The decline in the number of journalists at Australian media outlets gives rise to the opportunity for everyone to be a publisher.
You are the publisher
Moving into 2021, we believe there will be a continued shift to self-publishing, and thus the development and amplification of thought leadership pieces from businesses, especially as access to a wide range of digital “news” platforms grows. Some may question the credibility of a self-published piece versus a piece of earned coverage written by a journalist, however, according to a Forbes article, users often don’t differentiate between outlets.
Digital PR fits into this piece nicely given businesses are able to promote their self-published pieces, all the while targeting specific audiences. There is a precision in this practice.
Digital PR - taking you to where you customers are
What PR professionals are focusing on when using the term “digital PR” is integrating communication such as search engine optimisation (SEO), key words, strategic owned content, social media, community comments, and using benchmarks to rate and quantitative measurements (that is, using data such as click through rates) within PR programs. In practice, it means the PR department working closely with other departments, particularly social media and advertising as the lines between these blur. This is especially important given your audience is often unaware of whether what they see is generated via paid, earned or own efforts. What counts is whether the content resonates and to some extent how often the audience notices it.
It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation across the board – a survey released last week showed Australian businesses implemented as much technology in the past year as they did in the previous ten. Banks, retailers, fitness providers, bureaucrat and theatres are just a few of the industries that are interacting with their customers primarily online now. For financial services marketers and and CEOs, it’s important to follow suit.
However, now everyone is online, how to you ensure your message cuts through?
The key lies in designing an integrated digital strategy. At the heart of any strategy is understanding your audience’s pain points, intent, and where they spend time online. We’ve discussed persona development in a previous blog which will inform the messaging and channel mix including which media outlets are trusted sources for your audience.
Targeting keywords that match your buyer’s intent at various stages of their journey means you reach them with meaningful content that moves them closer to a decision, whether that’s through PR, social, or boosted content.
Business leaders, including marketers, need to be able to define and collect data around their target audience to produce targeted content that cuts through digital noise. Standing out from the crowd is necessary as businesses rapidly adapt to the technological shift to online presence that COVID-19 has affected.
Change is one of the few guarantees
PR is in the same boat as any other industry – it will adapt according to external forces, with great focus on how COVID-19 is shaping consumer behaviour. For now, it is clear that moving into 2021, companies are able to more autonomously and freely publish the content they want their consumers to see all the while using digital PR to ensure their content creation efforts are fully leveraged.
What are the top PR trends for financial services in 2021?
Watch our on-demand webinar Top 5 financial services PR trends in 2021, where we’ll explore what’s new in the world of PR, including how ESG is communicated, higher expectations of leaders and company conduct, the rise of purpose as central even in for-profit businesses and the digital capabilites to boost.
Related: Covid-19: A License To Be More Human