Over the past few months, Enroll Media Group has had the good fortune to participate in monthly programs hosted by The Communicators Club (TCC) in our backyard of Central Massachusetts. TCC offers ongoing programming and professional development opportunities for marketers, communicators, and storytellers, while simultaneously providing a unique chance to network with other companies, organizations, and individuals along the way.
To kick off the new year, we attended the most recent TCC program featuring Hilary McCarthy, Public Relations Director at Clearpoint Agency. During this month’s TCC session, Hilary shared the top 5 trends in Public Relations to keep in mind as we embark on new goals and projects ahead in 2019.
Are you interested in how your school or organization can stay ahead of the rapidly changing world of communicating via press releases, paid campaigns, websites, traditional advertising, and more? Are you curious about the evolving needs of PR, and what skills are necessary to introduce your organization through powerful storytelling? Read on for the top 5 trends in PR, and a few anecdotes from Hilary’s fantastic presentation.
1. PR & Digital Marketing Are Becoming More Integrated
It’s no secret that emerging technology demands new skillsets to communicate effectively. Social media campaigns, analytics, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), paid advertising, and web strategy are all components of communication that require marketing and PR teams to collaborate and manage organizational messaging in a seamless manner.
If you’ve felt the line between marketing, PR, and communications becoming more blurry, you’re not alone. 87% of professionals believe the term “public relations” will no longer describe their work in five years (USC Annenberg). If that’s the case, then how do we find shared success at the intersection of PR and marketing?
Regardless of your goals, messaging in 2019 must be disseminated across a variety of platforms to reach your desired audience. In most cases, the range of platforms, from organic social media to press releases, do require shared management and input from several different teams. If you haven’t already, ensure that your communications, enrollment, and marketing efforts aren’t being managed in isolation.
2. The Need For Measurement is Greater than Ever
When you’ve come up with your message, your plan, and your timeline, it’s time for tracking! While the need for measurement might be clear, Hilary uncovered the stark reality that PR ownership of digital and social media is up 12%, but confidence in quantifying ROI has dropped (6th Annual PRSE Digital PR and Communications Report).
Luckily, the majority of our efforts are largely quantifiable in this digital age. Take the time to understand the metrics that can be tracked from both offline and online efforts, and pull that information into a holistic and understandable format to help shape your future efforts. Remember, the value of any campaign can’t be quantified unless it can be tracked.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic metrics to help benchmark, take a look at a few of the widely-used and well-documented platforms like Google Analytics. There are many data visualization and analytics tools, and you’ll want to settle on a few key performance indicators (KPIs) to set the bar of success for any campaign.
3. Everyone Is An Influencer
Who are your influencers? If you’re at a school, influencers range from students to parents, to faculty, staff, and all the way full-circle to alumni. Your community represents a broad spectrum of contacts and relationships that span far beyond the four walls of your organization, and there isn’t a better voice for your institution than the people most familiar with it.
At EMG, we frequently recommend and facilitate social ambassador groups to help diversify and broadcast the authentic experience of an institution. Ambassadors offer another benefit in providing reviews on local resources, as well, which are incredibly a necessary part of local search engine optimization.
Taking a closer look into your social followers is a great place to start. Our friends at Hootsuite offer a fantastic 15-minute video to create a network of influencers that would naturally advocate for your institution, and in turn, increase trust and relevance amongst your future prospective students and families.
4. The Press Release Is On Steroids! (when done right)
Press releases aren’t going away – in fact, they’re only becoming super-charged, says McCarthy. By leveraging digital platforms, social media, SEO, and video, the text-heavy press release of the past is no longer a reality in 2019. If you’re not using Press Releases within your institution or organization because they seem outdated, check out this resource with examples that just might convince you otherwise.
There is a multitude of reasons why a well-crafted press release can prove incredibly effective in driving consistent, relevant traffic. Whether you are introducing a new program or offering, or a new strategic initiative within your school or organization, consider the press release as another valuable – and perhaps most importantly, quantifiable – channel to engage your desired audiences.
5. Storytelling is Critical
In the same USC Annenberg study that illustrated the shrinking distinction between marketing and PR, Hilary shared another statistic that resonated with us at EMG: when PR executives were asked which communications trends will be the most important in years to come, 80% ranked digital storytelling above the rest. What is it that truly distinguishes your organization from your peers?
Schools have a unique vantage point that we find compelling in each of our projects, as the mission of the organization is tangible on a day-to-day basis with the incredible work and amazing stories that come out of the classroom and community day in and day out. Alumni can tell the story of how, long after graduation, their experiences were shaped in large part by their early experiences in the supportive environments of their past.
Regardless of your goals in 2019, we hope you find Hilary’s trends as helpful and affirming as we have at EMG. If you’re nearby in the Central Massachusetts area, please join us at the next Communicators Club program! You won’t be disappointed.