25 years in PR

Monday, 29 June 2015, by Ben O'Brien

Kenyon Fraser is 25 years young this summer – so how has the world of PR changed during this time?  A quarter of a century ago, when some of our ‘more experienced’ staff members worked on newsdesks, press releases were mailed or faxed to newspapers – and mostly went into the bin.

Things have changed dramatically, as newsrooms have shrunk, pressure to fill pages has risen, and journalists have accepted that there may be mutual benefits in working with PR people.

And the swing to acceptance has been dramatic, with one study claiming that 80% of news in quality papers is ‘not original’ ie based on PR material. Whether the proportion is that high is a moot point, but it is now commonplace for press releases to be used as news stories - a few edits here and there and it’s ‘good to go’. Press releases become the news, rather than a starting point to point journalists towards news…  Something to be remembered when writing the next press release.

Crafting stories; finding fresh angles and ways to communicate the key messages effectively, remain aims that the PR team strives to hit as much as possible.  In this digital age, there is a variety of methods that can be employed to get coverage out into the world.  

But here’s another big shift: 25 years ago, clients almost literally used to ‘weigh the cuttings’ – being happy to see large amounts of coverage for its own sake. Now, it’s not about measuring headlines and column inches but about influence; getting messages across in the appropriate way to the best audiences. This increasingly means using digital channels, as well as analysing and weighting coverage according to message content and positioning.  

Newspapers - regional and local - can now be found online (mostly), and can provide a great resource where people can easily access emerging and trending news. More than half of the world’s adult population read a newspaper, proving it to be a traditional method that is still effective.  

However the way that people access their news is constantly evolving and 40% of the world’s digital audience read a newspaper online.  Consuming news through websites or apps is now thought to be as popular as reading newspapers, with 41% of people saying that they will use apps and websites to access news.  The percentages of those using mobile to get their news climbs high amongst those aged 16-24 compared with those aged 55 and over (ranked at 40 % versus 4% in 2014)*.  

Whichever method is used by PR teams - blogs, newsletters, newspapers, radio interviews - when the strategy is planned according to the client’s needs and the target audience is evaluated, the results should be compelling.  

With the recent Liverpool Tennis Tournament, which Kenyon Fraser was lucky enough to work on, coverage was found in many different arenas. This shows that some things never change: good pictures and actual news will always sell a story

 

*Statistics from WAN IFRA world press trend reports.  

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