In today’s rapidly transforming media environment, public relations issues and solutions must also adjust accordingly. Since the outbreak of pandemic 2020, networking for PR has undergone a profound transformation. Furthermore, people are now expecting brands to be socially responsible; breakthrough technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality are revolutionizing storytelling – thus impacting PR challenges year over year.
Thankfully, technological innovation and shifting social trends are not only obstacles but also opportunities that can help you succeed. In this article, we’ll outline some of the challenges of public relations in the 21st century and offer tips for dealing with them effectively.
Different Types of PR
- Media Relations – Relationships with the media are essential in public relations. PR pros send press releases, pitch articles and interviews to journalists in order to reach their desired audience. In turn, journalists frequently rely on PR people for newsworthy stories.
- Community Relations – this refers to direct engagement with a company’s community through its own channels, such as a company blog.
- Crisis Communications – Crisis communications refers to the process of disseminating information during a time of emergency, such as extreme weather events, crime incidents, cyber-attacks, PR disasters and corporate misbehavior.
- Public Affairs – Public affairs, or lobbying, is the management of relationships between an organization and legislators or regulators.
- Social Media Communications – Online PR plays a pivotal role for companies or organizations by cultivating relationships with blogs and social media channels.
- Internal Communications – Internal communications refers to the facilitation of intra-company communications, both between managers and employees as well as within departments. The aim is to ensure everyone within the company shares similar values and objectives, leading to satisfied and productive staff members.
Top PR Challenges in 2022
- Lack of New Connections – Prior to 2021, it was difficult or impossible for PR pros to meet journalists in person at events. With Zoom and Google Meets making relationships the lifeblood of PR, in-person conferences were returning in 2022; however, with today’s content-overloaded audience and their tendency towards engaging only with relevant material that matches their interests, personalized content creation and search engine optimization (SEO optimization) become even more crucial for PR pros in making connections with their target audiences.
- Connecting with high-level media – The pandemic has caused staff changes at many media offices. If a particular outlet has downsized or now relies on freelancers, PR professionals may have lost contact with that office. Furthermore, remote work makes it more challenging to locate the right person over the phone when pitching an idea.
- Handling client expectations – Clients often expect immediate outcomes and become frustrated when they don’t come through as promised. That is why effective communication between PR agency and client is so crucial in this situation.
- Budget Constraints – Forty-five percent of PR pros report budget limitations as an issue in their 2021 State of PR survey. Paid marketing initiatives like influencer-driven content and affiliate marketing will become even more vital in 2022 due to the difficulty reaching audiences through earned media in today’s climate. In 2020, organizations increased their budget for social media outlets by 11.7 percent.
- The “new normal” – Since 2020, there have been an array of social and political changes that have had an immense effect on all aspects of life. The ongoing pandemic, increased political polarization, climate change – these all require companies to reevaluate how they plan to stay competitive. PR plays a pivotal role in helping companies navigate this transformation as they evolve their brand image. Public relations must now cater to all stakeholders–not just investors–as well as existing stakeholders like customers and partners.
How to Overcome PR Challenges
- Learn fast – One way in which PR has evolved in recent years is companies have learned to tell their own stories. While media relations will always be important in PR, companies have taken to creating their own stories through their own channels – social media, corporate websites, webinars, etc. – since traditional media has become increasingly hard to come by (since most news stories revolve around the pandemic and other things happening in the world).
Another way in which the communications landscape has recently evolved is toward social consciousness. In recent years, an international climate of social upheaval has led to companies and investors developing a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). In 2022, this trend will continue, and by integrating these practices into their operations, companies will not only attract talent looking for opportunities that align with their values, but will also, with the help of PR, will reach maximum success.
Finally, learn from the kids – Largely used by Gen Z, TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, with over 1 billion monthly average users. It has become an online hub for advertising and digital brand strategy and could be the perfect place to target your 2022 campaign.
- Keep solid connections with journalists – Maintaining solid relationships with media professionals is integral to getting your pitches noticed and even seen. With shakeups in the staff at media outlets in recent years, PR pros will have to do a lot more research and reach out to new contacts or re-introduce themselves to previously-established contacts they may have lost touch with. Creative use of Twitter and LinkedIn can help PR pros overcome communications challenges.
Tools like Qwoted are changing the way PR professionals and media professionals connect. Quoted is a freemium platform that uses AI to connect the media with matching sources and PR pros without getting spammed.
In 2022, as always, increasing your brand presence on social media is one way to grow organic connections. Keep abreast with what’s happening on Facebook, LinkedIn and Tik Tok, and use these platforms to make connections with the media as well as your fellow PR peers.
- Get noticed by your quality work – Journalists at prestigious publications receive more than 100 pitches per day. How can you get noticed in such a competitive environment? One way is to build your profile over time (meaning months and years), so that you’ll have more buzz when it comes time to get noticed by prestigious publications. PR is a marathon, not a sprint.
Another way is to improve the quality of your content by focusing on authenticity. People are increasingly able to sense BS. Public relations professionals are essentially storytellers and telling your brand’s story honestly and truthfully can create a connection between your brand and the target audience.
Public interest is generated when a company contributes real added value to society. For example, Pledge 1%, a global corporate philanthropy movement, challenges entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to donate one percent of their equity, product or employee time (or all three) to nonprofits in their local communities.
- Create new connections – PR professionals can participate in virtual events like Techfluence to meet media professionals. Quoted is another PR tool that can be used to build connections. Sometimes, a simple phone call can feel more intimate in the era of Zoom and Google Meets.
Luckily, in 2022, PR industry events are finally going back to in-person. One major aspect of PR is forming connections at networking events, conferences and seminars.
Another challenge for PR professionals is making connections with the target audience. In 2022, this means using digital PR to increase your visibility and exposure. This entails increasing your outreach by using SEO optimization tactics.
- Make a proper budget before the start – In 2022, immersive tech including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is transforming PR. But while changing your storytelling from 2D to 3D is impactful, it can also be costly. The first step in trying AR is to allocate the budget, or risk being left behind.
- Always be careful – with today’s media landscape being more splintered and niche, your PR data is scattered across podcasts, social media, print, etc. It is important to keep all this information carefully organized, which involves a lot of carefully managed spreadsheets and other online tools like Muck Rack or Prowly. More than two-thirds of PR pros surveyed say that strategic planning will be the most important PR skill set over the next five years.
Over the past couple of years, global social movements have gained momentum. This socially aware energy has seen its way into public relations efforts by way of increased corporate responsibility initiatives that place greater emphasis on company and brand values.
Immersive media has emerged as a hot trend that PR professionals can benefit from – provided they allocate enough budget.
Digital PR and social media outreach are more essential than ever before. Utilizing SEO tactics and launching campaigns on Tik Tok are the future of PR in today’s world.
In 2022, the audience is shifting – Gen Z is driving change across platforms (from traditional media to Tik Tok), and priorities from “me, me, me” messaging towards social justice issues. PR pros must adjust with authentic content that appeals to this new generation.