It’s not your grandparents’ PR industry. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, PR was evolving, with most of us replacing time-honored tactics with fresher and more digital methods. For example, media monitoring, once a tedious and time-consuming daily ritual, is now far more efficient given AI-assisted tech. Today content is dynamic; much of it can be created instantly and is more personalized than ever before. Digital technologies have disrupted both journalism and PR, in ways that often help us work together.
But just as digital tech has created opportunities, it has also raised hurdles and headaches. Take the case of social media; what was once a creative space for brands to engage with customers is now so cluttered that making connections is difficult, and paid media strategies are often necessary. Email outreach to media has added efficiency, yet it has also been misused by many PR teams. The list goes on.
But constant change doesn’t mean we should throw out all time-tested tactics. In fact, here are a few “outdated” PR practices that are still highly effective. Don’t put them on the discard pile just yet.
The in-person media tour
Although in-person meetings were all but shut down as a result of COVID-19, they had already been slipping out of vogue by 2000. Yet PR is all about building and maintaining relationships. For all the benefits of Zoom, an in-person meeting is still the best way to build rapport. IRL meetings allow client spokespersons and journalists the opportunity for flexible conversations that are not limited by the boundaries of a screen. In an era defined by transactional conversations, in-person briefings can be a great way for a brand representative to distinguish their story. Maybe it’s not like the traveling “tours” of decades ago, but the face-to-face factor is very powerful.
Manual media research
Many databases promise up-to-date background on media targets and trends. But for all the hype, there truly is no substitute for manual research and human analysis. Journalists are very busy, so giving them relevant information is key to PR success. Yet, many PR teams look for technology shortcuts. While there are tools that may help with analysis, manual scrutiny is the only way to correctly approach media. Without it, PR professionals not only may fail, but they risk burning bridges by spamming reporters with irrelevant pitches and information.
Getting on the phone
Email has significantly improved the speed at which journalists and PR professionals work. However, there is very much a place for the old-school phone call. And sometimes there really isn’t a better option for closing the loop on a project than hopping on the phone. For example, why wait to pass on a few additional instructions to conference coordinators on sponsorship partnerships when you can easily just give them a call? A simple phone conversation can sometimes make things easier and save time, so don’t give up on it just yet.
Given our regular sticker shock over the cost of newswire distribution, more businesses and PR agencies are moving away from posting announcements on the wire. But there’s still a place for newswires in our business. It should never be the sole distribution method, but it’s an efficient way to put out key announcements and can sometimes offer an SEO boost. Granted, costs for newswire distribution for each and every announcement can be prohibitive, and the international distribution costs are insanely high. But there are several budget friendly options that can offer more targeted SEO reach for a gentler cost.