State of the Industry: The Greatest Challenges for PR and Communications Professionals

Posted
March 27th 2020

The digital landscape is ever-changing and with it, PR industry standards are rapidly evolving. Not only that but making a long-lasting impression is becoming more difficult with increased background noise and hard-to-impress audiences. We’ve sought out experts within the PR and communications industry to chat about the biggest difficulties they face.

Challenge #1: Scheduling and Coordinating with Clients

Scheduling and coordinating with clients or coworkers is critical in any job, even more so for PR professionals. With strict deadlines, client meetings, and a 24/7 news cycle, PR professionals have a full plate.

Jake Hay, Partner and Head of Development at PopShorts says: “Being in a communication profession, struggling with in-person meetings and phone call coordination can be harmful to a career. How I overcame this struggle was using an application called Calendly. […] It has made scheduling easy for me and is now something I no longer struggle with as a communications professional.

Using apps like Calendly can be a gamechanger for any PR specialist who struggle to organize in-person meetings and phone calls. Working around clients’ schedules, as well as yours, does not require those endless back and forth emails. You can use this app to organize and distribute meetings to your colleagues and clients based on everyone’s availability.

Challenge #2: Audiences are harder to impress

Technology is rapidly growing and the digital landscape is evolving on a regular basis. Consumers are more technology savvy and doing more research. This means that audiences are harder to impress, especially in highly competitive markets. So, to make a long-lasting impact, as a PR professional, you need to do your homework. And to do that, you need to dive deeper into your audience’s psyche to better understand their needs and preferences. This is one of the biggest challenges that people who work in the industry are facing.

Malte Scholz at Airfocus states:

One of the biggest PR challenges nowadays is that audiences are becoming increasingly difficult to impress. Since they are bombarded with different content every day, the average reader (or viewer) becomes numb to whatever you’re trying to serve them, especially if they’re more tech-savvy.

Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls also faces the same issue:

Customers are savvy today, they are happy to buy what they want and need but they do not like to be sold things

Segmenting one’s audience works best to work around this issue. The first step is to find out the right type of content to trigger a good reaction from a target audience. In this context, what works for your Facebook audience will not work as efficiently for your LinkedIn audience. So take a deep dive into your metrics and analyze which posts are doing better than others. Then capitalize on that!

The biggest mistake you can make is using the “spray and pray” method for PR. Instead, use laser-precision targeting to reach exactly the people who want to consume your content” -Elena, PR manager at Airfocus.

Challenge #3: Difficulty measuring impact

There’s plenty of online data and media intelligence, yet measurable results are hard to spot. It’s difficult to provide clients with an exact ROI (return on investment) and especially an AVE (advertising value equivalency). Circulation and audience reach are not precise indicators since they don’t always guarantee success. With all the tools and metrics available, it’s still not enough to get definite numbers or figures that define impact. So, what is the best way to proceed on how to measure PR?

First, you must identify your goals and the outcome that you’re after. This is a vital step to the success of your campaign. You need to start with a clear image of what you want. This will make it so much easier to determine the best PR tools for media monitoring. Define the target audience, format, as well as the proper channels. This will inspire the metrics you base your outcome on. Transparency throughout the entire process is key.

Lorraine Gimblett, the co-founder of Food-Shelter, explains:

We provide as many metrics as possible to clients including sentiment […] In PR, there are few true measurements, so our reputation [matters] with both the media – to be the best possible resource – and with clients – to be a candid partner in their marketing efforts. 

Challenge #4: Getting journalists’ attention

Journalists are flooded with hundreds of pitches on a daily basis, and this can be a serious PR challenge. It’s unlikely for your story to stand out in a sea of emails. Thus, your efforts, as a PR specialist, will feel kind of in vain. And with so much background noise and an overload of information, the most daunting task is to get a journalist’s attention. Even if it’s a bit difficult, it’s not impossible.

If you want to get editorial coverage, then you first need to get journalists’ attention. But how do you do that in a noisy industry?

Supriya Kumar, an Independent Marketing & PR Consultant, shares a few tips with us:

keeping frequently in touch with a quick call to give them an update on latest developments at our end […], always following up […] with a written update that is handy for them to retain the information and/or refer to in the future. Preempting a story they could be working on based on current trends […] or major developments worldwide[…] and sending them written inputs they may wish to include in their story

Before you send your pitch to a journalist, research their interests. That way, you ensure that your pitch is relevant to the themes they write about. Personalize your email or pitch so that it’s intriguing enough to spike interest, and make sure to follow up. Stay on top of their mind as a priority, and make a long-lasting impression.