Specialties

By definition, hypergrowth companies are outliers. Hypergrowth is defined by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40%. Companies grow that fast by pouring on the gas and reinvesting every dollar back into the company – usually, in the earliest stages, the reinvestment is heavily based on product and talent. Slack is a great example of this; it had a $1.1 billion valuation before ever hiring a CMO. When marketing and PR become a priority, and that’s when the question of how much hypergrowth companies should spend on PR starts to circle, and it’s difficult because hypergrowth companies can’t use baselines of slow-moving Fortune 500 companies or even those in the pre-IPO stage.

PR and Marketing Spends: Rules of Thumb

You know that adage, “Dress like the job you want?” Hypergrowth companies need to spend on the valuation they want. In 2023, because many companies invested heavily (marketing budgets went up 13% on average) in branding and marketing during the pandemic, VC-backed business valuations rose considerably in the wake of the pandemic, 68.5% in some verticals. Marketing and PR investments are just that: investments. Wouldn’t you spend $5 million to make a billion?

We are thoroughly out of the pandemic and are now managing uncertainty. But for ambitious companies, this presents a true opportunity. Especially if you’re looking to creep into market share, according to Christine Moorman, at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business:

“Companies tend to cut back on marketing in periods of economic uncertainty,” said Christine Moorman, the T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. “This general tendency should be tempered with an understanding of the cost of reaching consumers and what competitors are doing. Inflation may be a chance to leap ahead if others pull back.”

Average Companies Have Average Spends

The 2023 CMO Report reflects this changed environment:

-The average marketing budget was 10.6% of the overall budget and 9.2% of revenues.

-For companies with $10-$15 million in revenue, the average spend was 15.5% of revenues.

-For companies under $10 million in revenue, the average spend was 19% of revenues.

-For startups, the average marketing spend was 11% of revenue.

So the question is – are you average? If you’re in hypergrowth, you are decidedly NOT average. Hypergrowth companies aren’t average and are often in dogfights for additional funding or customer acquisition against better-funded competitors. So, there’s no question that hypergrowth companies need a hypergrowth PR budget that reflects their ambitions. It’s unreasonable to think you can stagnate your budget but grow revenues aggressively.

 

Hypergrowth: What’s PR Worth To YOU?

Unlike other initiatives, it has cross-functional importance. This is important because, in a moment, we’ll discuss how hypergrowth companies can make their marketing and PR budgets go further.

Before we do, a note about marketing spend distribution: most companies lump PR into their marketing budgets, and all companies face the dilemma of marketing budget balance. Again, this takes some introspection into your goals, audience, and competition. But one thing about PR is that it has a very long shelf life. Whether you do a publicity stunt, a Super Bowl ad, or a social media post, the impression is seconds long, and then it’s gone. But PR tends to have a very long shelf life. We’ve seen clients continue to get traffic to their sites for years after posting a piece of content. In addition, it’s still the most trusted form of marketing. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 65% of consumers trust earned media more than any other form of marketing. PR is an investment like buying a house, whereas marketing is like renting.

Ask yourself, “How will we use and activate PR?” 

Will PR help you secure top talent?
Will PR help you secure capital?
Will PR give potential customers confidence in the company?
Will PR support low customer acquisition (CAC) and high word of mouth?
Will PR increase loyalty and reduce churn?
Will PR support culture and purpose?

PR is cross-functional, so it stands to reason that PR’s budget should be cross-functional as well. If you’re using PR as a recruitment tool, then-candidate marketing or internal comms could help increase the budget. Product development and PR can collaborate on low CAC, so there’s an opportunity to mix those budgets as well.

Be sure that your overall marketing budget matches your ambitions. If you’re growing at 40% CAGR, your budget should match, and remember that today’s marketing and PR investments are tomorrow’s returns. You may need to increase your marketing and PR budget by more than 40% to achieve 40% CAGR; once you’re on that track, perhaps you pull it back to match your growth, and once you’re publicly traded, your budgets may more closely match the average CMO projection.

What Should the Hypergrowth PR Budget Include?

Your hypergrowth PR budget scope should reflect your priorities for your business and how you will use and activate PR. Typically, when I speak to hypergrowth companies, I immediately assess whether the following PR tactics will work for them:

Thought Leadership
Word of Mouth Activations or Stunts
Media Relations 
Corporate Awards Programs 

Plus, any company investing in its reputation should do crisis PR planning.

That’s not to say these are the only PR tactics that will work for a hypergrowth company, but these are the immediate things that come to mind. Different hypergrowth strategies will dictate how each of these will be executed.

If you’d like some specific examples of budgets across a variety of ranges that worked for hypergrowth companies we’ve worked for, we can share what we’ve seen work throughout our executive-level experiences, contact us, we’d be happy to talk about effective strategies based on your goal.

I have a friend who once described PR as the “dark arts,” and while I completely disagree with that assessment, what he was getting at is he really didn’t understand how PR works. Reputable PR firms are the opposite of “dark arts”; they’re very transparent. There are some tools of the trade that PR agencies keep close to themselves, but really, there isn’t anything magical about HOW PR works; it’s just a specific combination of relationships, hard work, strategy, and culture. And that specific combination takes a long time to acquire, requiring commitment to the craft. But why PR is expensive isn’t because of human hours worked. Ultimately, there is a price to the human capital, but that’s not really why PR is expensive.

So, Why Is PR Expensive?

PR is expensive because the outcomes are so important and relevant. PR’s lasting value is in improving a brand’s reputation like no other marketing lever can. For companies wanting to be acquired or IPO, your PR investment ROI could be hundreds of millions of dollars.  PR outcomes range from high valuations at IPO or during capital raises to making advertising more efficient and reducing time to sale for both B2B and B2C customers. In short, it’s not unusual for PR outcomes to be more than 10X the investment. To 10X investment, the most impactful PR aligns with trust and loyalty, which requires consistency.

For many ambitious companies, the long-term benefits of PR are sometimes forgotten, and yet that can be considerable. Due in part to high marketing budgets during the pandemic, brand valuations increased dramatically in 2023 – from 6.3% growth to 9.7% growth.

Your reputation is your most valuable asset.

Why is PR so expensive research

Data from USC Anneberg Communications Report 2023

What is a Good PR Budget?

When considering your PR agency budget, your budget should match your goals. If you’re trying to grow your business, your overall marketing budget and PR should increase.

As of the fall of 2023, according to The CMO Survey, the average marketing budget was 10.6% of budget and 9.2% of revenues. For companies with $10-$25 million in revenue, the average spend was 15.5% of revenues. So, if you’re looking to be above average, your overall marketing budget should be higher than that. For companies under $10 million in revenue, the number was 19% of revenue. And consumer packaged goods reported spending 25% of their budget on marketing and PR.

If you’re an ambitious brand or fast-growing company, your budget could be 25% of revenue – is that aggressive? Yes. It is. Again, that’s a budget to grow considerably. A good rule of thumb for your budget might break down like this: 20% content, 20% advertising, 20% PR, 20% SEO, 20% activations.

While your distribution might vary depending on your goals – for example, if you’re raising money or looking for a M/A event, you might skip advertising all altogether and move that to PR and content. Alternatively, if you’re a consumer brand,  you might increase the content and advertising portions and focus your PR budget on certain campaigns. Emerging industries may need larger PR budgets because they need to create public and investor trust.

Based on the rates of PR agencies your budget may be higher or lower based on the experience level of your agency team. Naturally, less seasoned agency teams will be less expensive. But it’s probably more important for you to budget based on your goals.

If you’re ambitious or seeking investment or pre-IPO, your marketing budget should match those very important objectives and allocate 12%-17% of revenues or target valuations to marketing, with a third of that, at least, going to PR. Depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C company.

How Does PR Make a Company More Competitive?

68% of CMOs reported expecting more intense customer rivalry in the coming year. In B2B segments, that number increased to 73%, with 61% expecting more innovation. By themselves, even new products don’t excite people without a story. If your company is new, you need to define a compelling story, and you need to tell it over and over. Whether you’re a tech company, or a consumer product company, PR is a key part of how people discover new products.

According to Nielson, global CMOs said brand recall was the #1 most important goal in media. Advertising is ubiquitous, and advertising is an important part of any marketing budget. After a while, ads blend in a social feed or even on TV. But if your product or CEO is in a magazine, people remember that. They might not even remember WHAT was said, they’ll remember that they saw it there. Brand recall is critical to the sales funnel. If people can’t remember your company, how will they purchase from it?

PR’s lasting impact is its value, including the fact that earned media lives forever. Less than 1% of companies ever get PR for their company, so by being in that top 1%, you’ve already differentiated yourself. Can you start a company without PR? Absolutely. Can your company thrive without PR? No. There are no household names without PR at the table, period. There are no industry leaders without PR.

The digital era has witnessed the burgeoning of technology companies that operate within the B2B realm. Their aim? To provide solutions that make business processes more efficient, streamlined, and profitable. In such a competitive ecosystem, companies in emerging industries need to differentiate themselves, so this is where B2B tech PR comes into play, proving not just a supplementary strategy but an essential one.

Understanding the Current Landscape

The tech sector today is brimming with potential. A lot is happening, from VC-backed startups aiming to disrupt industries to established firms looking to scale through IPO PR. Top tech PR firms are in constant demand to aid these companies in carving out their niche. PR for B2B companies offers more than mere exposure in this dynamic milieu – it’s about cementing a lasting legacy. Let’s delve deeper into why PR is indispensable in the B2B tech sector.

Reason #1: Establishing Thought Leadership and Industry Authority

In the nuanced realm of B2B tech, carving out a prominent space is vital. To transcend mere technicality and be seen as industry pioneers, businesses must craft relatable narratives, engage varied stakeholders, and uphold a consistent brand message amidst constant change.

Nurturing Authentic Narratives

B2B tech entities often offer complex, intricate, and innovative solutions. Translating such intricacies into relatable narratives is a challenge that the best B2B tech PR adeptly addresses. By creating storylines that resonate with the audience, businesses can bridge the gap between technical jargon and meaningful conversation, thus positioning themselves as relatable industry pioneers.

Engaging Stakeholders

B2B tech firms deal with various stakeholders, from clients to investors. Top tech PR firms understand these distinct audiences, crafting messages that resonate with each. Effective PR ensures each message hits the mark, whether it’s elucidating the potential of new software to a prospective client or elucidating the profitability of an innovative solution to a potential investor.

Consistent Brand Messaging

Maintaining a consistent brand image can be taxing in an industry where changes are rapid. Regular engagements, articles, and features ensure that a company’s core values, visions, and missions are always at the forefront. This strategic approach maintains relevance and solidifies their position as stalwart contributors amid the rapid transformations of the tech landscape.

Reason #2: Building Trust and Credibility

The dynamic tech sector demands more than innovation; it seeks trustworthiness. Navigating pitfalls, gaining third-party endorsements, and cultivating a transparent dialogue are pivotal. Effective PR doesn’t just showcase achievements; it elevates a brand’s reputation in an ever-shifting landscape.

Reputation Management

A proactive PR strategy is essential in the tech world, where one misstep can lead to significant fallout. From addressing potential controversies to highlighting positive impacts, PR for B2B companies ensures that the brand’s reputation remains untarnished. This approach safeguards the brand’s reputation, preserving its esteemed standing amid the ever-evolving tech landscape.

Validating Expertise Through Third-party Endorsements

Inclusion in esteemed tech-based journals, interviews on respected OTT platforms, or endorsements by industry-specific influencers can significantly elevate a company’s overall market credibility. These third-party validations, orchestrated by PR, serve as powerful testimonials to the company’s expertise and reputation, bolstering its standing within the tech sector and among its peers.

Creating a Transparent Dialogue

Transparency builds trust. B2B tech PR plays a pivotal role in cultivating this trust by enabling open forums, interactive Q&A sessions, or engaging webinars where companies can address queries, concerns, and feedback. This commitment to transparent communication fosters an environment of trust where stakeholders feel heard, informed, and confident in their business relationships.

Reason #3: Driving Business Results and Expanding Opportunities

Success in B2B tech isn’t solely about the product; it’s about opportunity recognition. Strategic PR efforts spotlight firms for investments, stimulate partnerships, and boost lead generation. Beyond mere visibility, astute PR strategies directly influence growth, profitability, and industry standing.

Positioning for Investment

Especially crucial for VC-backed startups, PR activities can catch the eye of potential investors. Likewise, a well-executed IPO PR strategy proves instrumental in securing the right focus and valuation when companies embark on their public offerings. These strategic PR efforts can be the key differentiators that propel startups into attracting financial backing during pivotal growth phases.

Facilitating Partnerships

Enterprise B2B tech thrives on collaborations, integrations, and partnerships. The best tech PR  strategically ensures that your brand is top of mind when businesses seek innovative collaborations. Through effective PR efforts, your company is not just a participant but a recognized leader in forging valuable alliances that drive innovation and growth in the dynamic landscape of B2B technology.

Lead Generation and Conversion

Beyond branding, PR can have tangible effects on the bottom line. Enhancing visibility and credibility can drive inbound inquiries, increase web traffic, and increase conversion rates. Effective communication and reputation management directly contribute to a company’s success, translating into results beyond surface-level brand recognition.

What to Expect from Tech PR

In today’s tech-driven world, PR has evolved beyond its traditional role. It’s a complementary element and a strategic imperative for B2B tech-sector businesses. Above, we discussed PR’s pivotal roles: establishing thought leadership, building trust, and driving tangible business outcomes. Now, let’s dive deeper into what you can genuinely anticipate from tech PR – a journey that extends far beyond conventional brand visibility.

At its core, tech PR is about more than just surface-level branding and marketing exercises. It’s a multifaceted strategy that encompasses aligning your brand with exemplary narratives, markets, and audiences. PR professionals skillfully craft compelling narratives that resonate with your target audience when executed effectively. These stories transcend your product or service; they focus on the impactful solutions you create, the problems you solve, and the visionary path you tread.

Tech PR is a precision tool that ensures your message reaches the audiences that matter most. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach; it’s about connecting with those who share your interests, needs, and goals. Through continuous market intelligence, PR professionals monitor tech trends, competition, and emerging opportunities. This insight is the foundation for your strategic positioning, ensuring you stay ahead of the curve and maintain relevance in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

But Tech PR doesn’t stop at strategic positioning. It’s about fostering meaningful engagements that go beyond the surface level. In the tech industry, innovation thrives on collaboration, and PR is the bridge builder that facilitates these connections. It secures thought leadership platforms, placing you in the spotlight at industry conferences, expert panel discussions, and other relevant forums. These engagements position you as an authority, opening doors to new collaborations and partnerships.

Furthermore, PR involves the creation of valuable content that educates your target audience and set you as a trusted source of information that goes beyond press releases; it encompasses articles, blog posts, whitepapers, videos, and more. Through thoughtfully crafted content, you showcase your expertise and provide value to your audience who choose to trust you.

On the other hand, in the dynamic tech landscape, crises can arise unexpectedly. Tech PR equips you with the skills and strategies to manage these crises effectively. Preparedness is critical, and PR ensures your reputation remains intact even in challenging times. It’s about addressing issues as they arise and proactively managing your brand’s image to mitigate potential crises.

Now, let’s talk about measurable outcomes because results matter in the fast-paced world of B2B tech. Tech PR isn’t just a vanity metric; it’s a driver of tangible benefits. One of the most immediate impacts is increased visibility. Your brand becomes a recognized name among clients, partners, and investors. However, it’s not just about being seen; it’s about being seen by the right people.

PR generates interest and curiosity, leading to a surge in inbound inquiries. Prospective clients and partners actively seek you out, filling your pipeline with valuable leads. These inbound inquiries are often more engaged because they’ve already been exposed to your brand’s narrative and credibility.

Not only that, your website becomes a hub of activity as your brand gains recognition. Increased website traffic isn’t merely a vanity metric; it’s a reflection of heightened interest and engagement. Your website visitors are more likely to explore your offerings, which can translate into higher conversion rates. Ultimately, Tech PR contributes to driving your bottom line by enhancing visibility, credibility, and engagement, all of which can lead to more significant revenue and business growth.

The Tangible Advantages of B2B Tech PR

While we’ve delved deep into the intricacies and overarching benefits of PR in the B2B tech sector, it’s essential to consolidate and emphasize the core reasons that genuinely make PR indispensable:

Tailored Messaging for Complex Solutions: In the B2B tech realm, solutions are often nuanced and highly specialized. B2B tech PR ensures that the communication around these solutions is tailored, coherent, and, most importantly, highly effective. Businesses can foster a more profound connection with their target audience by making these solutions relatable and understandable.

Positioning Amidst Competition: The tech landscape is crowded, and groundbreaking innovations enter the market daily. PR ensures that a B2B tech company doesn’t become another fleeting name in this vast, competitive landscape. Instead, it strategically carves out a distinctive identity, ensuring the brand stands tall, is recognized, and remains relevant among competitors.

Leveraging Industry Insights: The dynamic nature of the tech industry means that trends shift, new technologies emerge, and market needs evolve. A B2B Tech PR strategy keeps businesses updated with these shifts, ensuring their position always aligns with the market pulse. This approach ensures that companies are reactive and predictive, staying one step ahead.

To truly harness the power of PR, B2B tech companies need to view it not as an afterthought but as a foundational strategy. It’s not just about media placements or press releases; it’s about building a robust brand narrative, connecting with the right stakeholders, and driving business growth. PR ensures that the best stories get told in a world where every tech solution claims to be the best.

B2B Tech PR is not a monolithic strategy; it’s a dynamic tool that adapts, evolves, and scales with the company it represents. Whether you’re a budding startup or an established market leader, PR ensures your narrative remains compelling, credible, and consistent. Bringing onboard a seasoned PR partner can make this journey even more impactful. From understanding the intricacies of the tech sector to crafting bespoke PR strategies, the right partnership can genuinely elevate your brand.

Finally, as the tech landscape continues to evolve, the role of PR will only grow in significance. Those who recognize its value early on will undoubtedly stay ahead of the curve, leading dialogues, setting trends, and carving out legacies. The future of technology is intrinsically linked with the future of PR. And for those who are ambitious, the journey has only just begun.

Embrace B2B Tech PR Today with Tara Coomans @ Avaans Media

Avaans Media is more than just another name in the list of PR agencies. With a proven track record, innovative approaches, and a commitment to bespoke strategies, this is where narratives are shaped, futures are crafted, and legacies are built. If the future is what you’re eager to shape, then let public relations expert, Tara Coomans, award-winning communication and PR expert at Avaans Media, guide you through it.

You might be wondering “do I need a PR agency?”.  Have you ever wondered how certain companies stay in the limelight or handle crises so smoothly? The answer often lies with a PR agency, with PR experts at the helm. In a world where brand image and public perception hold immense power, the role of public relations services is crucial. But what exactly does a public relations agency do?

The Role of Public Relations Agencies

At the heart of its operation, a PR agency focuses on shaping and maintaining the public image of businesses, individuals, or organizations. These agencies serve as a vital link connecting clients with various audiences, encompassing potential customers, investors, partners, and employees. They expertly manage relationships, ensuring that the clients are viewed favorably in the public eye.

Crafting the Narrative

A primary function of public relations agencies is crafting and spreading a positive narrative for the clients. This critical role emphasizes the client’s key strengths, notable achievements, and unique selling propositions. Using diverse media channels, these agencies skillfully highlight these aspects, ensuring that the public perception aligns positively with the client’s image. This narrative shaping is a strategic endeavor tailored to resonate with the target audience and broader public.

Crisis Management

PR companies play an essential role in crisis management. When a client faces a scandal, product issues, or other adverse events, these agencies act quickly to limit damage. The unique approach of such companies includes clear communication with the public and strategic steps to rebuild trust in the brand. Effective crisis management involves mitigating immediate fallout and implementing long-term strategies to restore and maintain the client’s positive public image and reputation.

Media Relations

In the realm of PR agencies, media relations are fundamental. These agencies work to secure favorable media coverage for the clients, engaging in activities like pitching stories and arranging interviews. They sometimes handle media inquiries directly, which involves establishing and nurturing relationships with various media outlets and ensuring consistent, positive coverage. This is crucial for maintaining a robust public image and enhancing the client’s visibility and reputation.

Event Management

Public relations agencies excel in event management, a key aspect of the services offered. They organize diverse events, including product launches, press conferences, and public gatherings. They design each event to bolster the client’s public image and increase media presence. The strategic planning and execution of these events aim to attract media attention, engage the audience, and create opportunities for positive publicity, thereby enhancing the client’s overall brand image.

Social Media Management

PR companies’ responsibility extends to managing clients’ social media presence, which involves developing tailored social media strategies, creating engaging content, interacting with followers, and monitoring the client’s online reputation. These social activities are crucial in building and maintaining a positive digital footprint, engaging with the target audience effectively, and ensuring the client’s brand is perceived favorably across various social media platforms.

Influencer Collaborations

PR agencies often leverage influencer collaborations to extend a brand’s reach and credibility. This strategy involves identifying and partnering with the most-followed influencers who share similar values and appeal to the client’s target audience. Through these collaborations, agencies aim to enhance brand visibility and reputation, leveraging the influencers’ reach and influence to create a more relatable and impactful brand narrative, attracting and engaging a wider audience.

The Process: How PR Agencies Work

To fully grasp the importance and functionality of public relations services, it’s vital to understand their process. This understanding sheds light on how these agencies operate and underscore their importance in shaping public perception. By delving into these unique methods – from initial research and strategy development to implementation and ongoing evaluation – you can appreciate the intricate work that goes into managing and enhancing a client’s public image and reputation.

Research and Analysis

The initial phase for any PR agency involves a deep dive into completely understanding the client, which includes analyzing the client’s sector/industry, competitors, target audience, and existing public perception. This comprehensive research is crucial as it lays the foundation for all future strategies. The agency can tailor its approach by gaining insights into these areas, ensuring that the strategies developed are highly specific and effective for the client’s unique situation and needs.

Strategy Development

Following thorough research, the PR agency develops a customized strategy. This strategy outlines specific goals, communicates core messages to the intended target audience, and the selection of appropriate communication channels. The aim is to ensure that every aspect of this strategy aligns perfectly with the client’s objectives and market position. Careful planning at this stage is essential for the success of the subsequent public relations efforts.

Implementation

In the implementation phase, the PR agency puts the plan into action. This plan involves various activities, including writing and distributing press releases, crafting impactful social media content, organizing events, and engaging with media outlets. Each action is meticulously planned and executed to ensure maximum reach and impact. The agency’s expertise in effectively conveying the client’s message across various social media channels/platforms is critical during this stage.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Public relations companies are diligent in monitoring and evaluating campaigns. This process involves tracking media coverage, measuring social media engagement, assessing public sentiment, and analyzing other relevant metrics. By doing so, they can measure the effectiveness of their strategies and make informed choices for future campaigns. This ongoing evaluation is crucial in ensuring that the PR efforts align with the client’s goals and deliver the desired outcomes.

The Impact of Effective PR

Effective PR boosts brand awareness, a key to business growth. PR agencies make a brand more visible and attractive to its audience through targeted campaigns and strategic messaging. This increased awareness is not just about recognition; it’s about creating a familiar and trusted image in the minds of investors, consumers, and partners. By doing so, PR establishes a solid foundation for developing long-term, successful business relationships and fostering sustained business growth.

Beyond visibility, effective PR significantly enhances a company’s reputation in a specific industry/market. Skilled PR management is invaluable in an era where reputation can be made or broken in a moment. By positively shaping public perceptions, good PR can turn negatives into positives, strengthening customer loyalty. Good PR is particularly important in crisis situations, where the right communication can mitigate damage and even improve a company’s overall standing.

The long-term impact of effective PR must be balanced. It’s not just about immediate gains in visibility or reputation; it’s about setting a business up for ongoing success. Consistent, positive PR helps establish a brand as a leader in its field, opening doors to new opportunities, partnerships, and markets. It’s an investment in the future, building a legacy of trust and excellence that endures.

Choosing the Right PR Agency

With numerous agencies out there, choosing the one can be daunting. Look for an agency that understands your industry, has a demonstrated track record, and aligns with your company’s values.

Tailored Approach

Selecting the right PR agency involves finding one that doesn’t just apply generic strategies. A competent agency will invest time in understanding your needs and the specific dynamics of your industry. They will customize their approach, ensuring it aligns perfectly with your business goals and market position. This tailored strategy is vital for effectively addressing your specific challenges and opportunities, thereby maximizing the impact of their PR efforts on your business.

Transparency and Communication

Effective communication and transparency are fundamental when working with a PR agency. The ideal agency will also maintain open lines of communication with your team, keeping everyone informed about the strategies, their progress, and any challenges they face. This transparency is crucial for building a trust-based relationship. It ensures that you are always aware of how your PR investment is being managed and how it contributes to your business’s success.

Result-Oriented

The primary goal in hiring a PR agency is to witness concrete results. The right agency will have a clear plan to achieve specific outcomes, such as increasing media coverage, enhancing your brand’s reputation, or effectively managing crises. They should be able to demonstrate how the strategies will translate into tangible benefits for your business, ensuring that the investment in the services offered leads to measurable improvements in your public image and market presence.

The Future of Public Relations

The future of public relations (PR) is a fascinating topic, especially when considering its evolution from its inception to its current state. In the early 20th century, PR was primarily about press agentry and publicity, focusing on getting a company’s name out into the public sphere, often with little regard for the accuracy or ethics of the message. It was all about creating a buzz, regardless of the substance behind it. However, this traditional approach has drastically changed over the decades.

In the mid-20th century, PR began to evolve into a more sophisticated and strategic field. This era saw the rise of “public relations counsel” – experts who sought to promote clients and advise them on how to behave and communicate. It was no longer just about publicity but shaping perceptions and building a reputable brand image. This period marked the beginning of PR as a strategic communication process, understanding public and engaging with stakeholders.

Today, PR has become an integral part of business strategy. It’s no longer an afterthought or merely a tool for damage control. Modern PR is about building and maintaining relationships with the audience, media, and other stakeholders. It’s about crafting a narrative that resonates with the public and aligns with the company’s values and objectives. The rise of digital media has further expanded the scope of PR, making it more dynamic and immediate. Social media, blogs, podcasts, and other digital platforms have become crucial in disseminating information and engaging with the public.

Looking towards the future, several key trends are likely to shape the PR industry:

Digital Dominance: The future of PR is digital. Social media platforms have already become primary tools for PR professionals to engage with audiences. We can expect more innovative uses, including machine learning and AI, to analyze trends and automate some aspects of PR.

Ethical and Transparent Communication: There’s a growing demand for authenticity and transparency in communication. People are increasingly skeptical of corporate messages and can easily spot inauthentic communication. Future PR will need to be transparent and ethics-driven.

Data-Driven Strategies: Data analytics in PR will become more prevalent. PR professionals will increasingly rely on data gathered by experts to understand audience behavior, measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns, and tailor messages to specific groups.

Integrated Communication Strategies: PR will become more integrated with other forms of marketing and communication. The line between PR, marketing, and advertising is already blurred, and this trend will continue. An integrated approach will be necessary for cohesive brand messages.

Crisis Management in a Digital Age: With the speed at which information spreads online, crisis management will become an even more critical skill for PR professionals. They must be adept at quickly addressing issues before they escalate using traditional and digital media channels.

Increased Focus on Storytelling: The power of storytelling will remain paramount in PR. However, the way stories are told. It will evolve with emerging technologies and changing audience preferences. PR professionals must be experts at crafting narratives that convey the desired message and engage and resonate with audiences across diverse platforms.

Personalization and Customization: As audiences become more fragmented, the one-size-fits-all approach will become less effective. Future PR strategies will need to be more personalized. This approach will require a deeper understanding of different audience groups and their preferences.

Influencer and Community Engagement: Social media influencers and community leaders will continue to play a vital role in shaping public opinion. PR strategies will increasingly include collaboration with these individuals to reach audiences more organically and credibly.

Focus on Measurable Outcomes: There will be a significant emphasis on measuring the impact of PR campaigns. With advanced analytics tools, PR professionals can provide concrete data on how their efforts contribute to a company’s bottom line and elevate the importance of PR.

Adapting to Globalization and Cultural Sensitivity: PR strategies must adjust to different cultural contexts as businesses continue to operate globally. Respecting cultural nuances will be crucial in crafting messages across media that are effective and sensitive to the global audience.

In conclusion, PR agencies are vital in sculpting the public image of businesses and individuals in the ever-evolving landscape. Their expertise in creating compelling narratives and adept crisis management is crucial. These agencies expertly navigate public perceptions, employing strategic communication to uphold and enhance reputations. The role of public relations agencies in today’s fast-paced, image-driven world is beneficial and essential for success in the eyes of the public.

Partner with Avaans Media

Are you in need of top-tier public relations services? Look no further than Avaans Media, a top-rated PR agency with a 100% executive-level team. Known for delivering exceptional results for emerging industries and hyper-growth companies worldwide, we combine years of experience, innovation, and tailored strategies to elevate your brand’s public image. So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to us today and embark on a journey towards unparalleled public relations success.

What’s happening in PR that you need to know about today? PR is a dynamic and powerful tool that can be leveraged for almost any audience, whether they be buyers, investors, or consumers; every one of them is influenced by the media. It’s important to know PR trends’ emerging techniques and tactics, but it’s also important to know whether those trends apply to you. Our clients are ambitious, incredibly so. Businesses that are in hyper-growth are often growing so fast they can’t hire fast enough, and that may be a reason why they’re hiring an agency. So, while understanding trends is important, it’s more important to understand where and how PR trends apply to them.

 

Content Platforms

Expect lots of new content launches attempting to fill the vacuum left by media layoffs and newsroom cuts; there are already many new and different ways to use content today. There are native and sponsored content options in some extremely prestigious outlets, and Substack has taken on a new life. Influencers are using the platform with affiliate links and journalists are using it to source ideas, data, and contacts, and companies are using it to reach the early adopter crowd. Is Substack the new Medium? Possibly. Medium, while not the darling it was a decade ago, still (as of this writing) has a place in the content ecosystem, especially for Silicon Valley – the Substack reader is a little harder to nail down right now and swings dramatically depending on the author.

Stay open to new ideas and places, but think through the ROI of investing in a content strategy on a new outlet too early. There are reasons to be an early adopter and disadvantages as well; be conscious of the pros/cons and include mitigations in your plan for the cons.

Data-Driven PR

This is one PR trend you can’t ignore. Newsrooms at even the largest titles are dangerously understaffed due to massive media layoffs. Setting aside the existential nature of this fact, this presents an opportunity for prepared, well-informed companies to support journalists with information and data the journalist might not have access to or hasn’t been approved to purchase from an expensive research firm. This is especially critical if you’re advocating for a point of view, an idea, or a trend. Data creates validity and context to your claims. It’s simply not enough to make a statement and assume people will believe you. Your press releases, media pitches, and social media need relevant data to back up your claims; anything without third-party validation is just an ephemeral idea.

Spend time considering what data you need to support your claims and ideas, and then put that data into an easy-to-understand context. And find conflicting data or other data to support yours so you can open the door to a deeper conversation about why the data matches or doesn’t. Data points don’t have to be statistics; they can be before/after photos or videos and be reviews and case studies. Think about all the ways your ideal buyer would like to see data articulated.

But press releases aren’t the only place where data is essential. Your PR strategy needs to be data-informed, too. You’re already behind if you’re not using all the technological tools at your disposal, including AI, for key messaging and media opportunities. Revaluate the data every six months to ensure your strategy keeps pace with the data and shifts as needed.

A data-driven approach has other advantages as well:

  1. Competitive Intelligence: Data-driven PR extends beyond internal metrics. It includes monitoring competitors, industry trends, and market sentiment. This competitive intelligence enables us to position our clients strategically, capitalize on market gaps, and stay ahead of evolving industry landscapes.
  2. Budget Optimization: PR budgets are valuable resources, and data helps us allocate them efficiently. We can optimize budget allocation for maximum impact by identifying high-performing channels and tactics. This ensures that every dollar spent contributes to overall campaign success.

Brand Authenticity

This isn’t as much a PR trend as it is an expectation. What do you stand for? What do you stand behind? What are you willing to stake your reputation on? Today’s media is suspicious of big claims. From sustainability to authority, if you’re staking your ground on a big claim, it’s best to ensure your business practices can defend these claims. It’s increasingly OK to say “we’re trying,” that’s the point of many annual ESG reports – to document the process. Audacious claims take time, and the world will give you space to accomplish those huge goals if you are simply transparent about the process.

This PR trend, to some degree, replaces “purpose-driven PR” as a trend. Why? Because it’s still expected that businesses will be good actors, but simply being a purpose-driven company isn’t enough anymore. Companies are expected to have built-in from the inside out and to implement this purpose beyond the PR advantages.

Your press releases and website are key areas where you need to create trust most because they are the two most prominent ways people new to your brand will find you. Every item that comes up in the first five results during a brand search is critical to your reputation; it should feel consistent and reinforce your brand authenticity.

Employee moral benefits from brand authenticity as well. Your corporate communications should reinforce your brand authenticity as well. 2023 was the year of “return to work demands from CEOs.” Businesses have lots of reasons to demand employees return to the office, and employees have lots of reasons to hate it. This automatically makes this communication divisive. While there were hundreds of thousands of “return to office” initiatives, only a visible few made news. Why? They typically made news because the tone was antithetical to the brand or there was a threat attached to the change in policy.

If your brand is divisive and threatening and the culture is anti-employee, then this is on brand, and you may proceed accordingly. If that’s NOT your brand, then communications like this need to be handled consistent with your company’s values, authentically.  It’s not that a company can’t change policies – they do it all the time, but when those policies don’t match the brand promise, internally or externally, expect backlash.

Laser Focus vs. Bucket Outreach

Today’s PR firms have access to thousands and thousands of journalists at their fingertips. We all pretty much have the same access – it’s not whether you know the journalist; it’s WHAT you send them that differentiates the pitch and determines its success. Not that they were ever appreciated, but gone are the days where you could blanket the press with a pitch and expect any premium outcomes. That’s why we advise our clients to look at press releases differently than in the past.

Today’s media relations experts know that every single outreach is a reflection on themselves, their agency, and the brand, and they take the time to treat journalists like humans rather than a transaction. Does media coverage get broken down into stats like reach, views, and authority? Yes. But the “relations” part of media is what makes it happen. A journalist never looked kindly upon a brand (or agency) that spammed them with irrelevant updates. Never has it been more off-trend to send mass emails to journalists. If your PR firm does this, they’re damaging your reputation along with theirs. But it’s not just the negative consequences of an impersonal pitch; the advantages of a personalized one are really valuable.

  1. Stand out from the crowd: A personalized pitch stands out amidst the sea of generic emails. It shows effort, thoughtfulness, and a genuine desire to collaborate. This distinctiveness increases the likelihood of the pitch being noticed and considered for coverage.
  2. Respect is always good PR. Journalists have tight schedules and limited time for sifting through pitches. A personalized pitch respects their time by presenting information concisely and directly relevant to their needs. This efficiency is appreciated and increases the chances of your pitch being read and acted upon.
  3. Human Connection: In the world of media, establishing a human connection is paramount. Personalized pitches enable a genuine connection between the pitch sender and the journalist. It transforms a pitch from a mere business transaction to a conversation between individuals, fostering trust and engagement.
  4. Relevance and Customization: Personalized pitches allow for tailoring content to align with the journalist’s interests, beat, and previous work. This customization ensures that the pitch is not only relevant to the journalist but also demonstrates a clear understanding of their preferences and areas of expertise.

AI is a Fairweather Friend

Unpopular PR trend opinion. Guess what? ChatGPT and any generative AI are excellent tools for many things; your brand content and press releases are not among them. Sure, you can use ChatGPT to give you ideas, but anything that ChatGPT gives you has already been written because ChatGPT is just a giant internet scraper. So if you’re looking to differentiate, create a memorable connection or a news-breaking idea – use ChatGPT as an idea starter, not a complete solution. While we’re at it – remember that not all information on ChatGPT is accurate anymore, and it doesn’t do a good job of contextualizing the source or timing of information. So ChatGPT for content is a valuable tool, but you must understand its limitations.

AI is a fairweather friend not only for content but also for research. Unless you’re paying handsomely for AI research, it’s probably outdated and possibly inaccurate. Free AI simply isn’t good enough yet to be used in business planning or PR research.

  1. Lack of Human Touch: PR is inherently about relationships, and a crucial element of successful relationship-building is the human touch. AI, by its nature, lacks the emotional intelligence and nuanced understanding that human interactions require. The personal connection, empathy, and intuition essential in PR can’t be replicated by algorithms.
  2. Understanding Complex Narratives: PR often involves conveying complex narratives, brand stories, and nuanced messages. AI may struggle to fully comprehend the intricacies of these narratives and might simplify or misinterpret key elements. Executive-level PR professionals can navigate the subtleties and adapt messaging to resonate effectively with diverse audiences.
  3. Adaptability to Dynamic Situations: PR is dynamic, and strategies often need to be adapted on the fly based on real-time events and changing circumstances.  PR professionals excel in their ability to think on their feet, pivot strategies swiftly, and make decisions considering the broader context—an agility AI currently lacks.
  4. Creativity and Innovation: Crafting compelling stories and innovative campaigns requires a level of creativity that AI hasn’t fully mastered. The ability to think outside the box, generate fresh ideas, and adapt creative strategies to suit specific clients or situations is a uniquely human strength.
  5. Ethical Considerations: PR involves ethical decision-making, and judgment calls that go beyond data analysis. PR professionals are equipped to navigate ethical challenges, make value-based decisions, and uphold the integrity-and authenticity- of their clients. AI lacks the ethical compass that humans possess.
  6. Unpredictable Stakeholder Interactions: Stakeholder interactions in PR are highly unpredictable and can vary widely. Human PR professionals excel in building relationships with diverse stakeholders, adapting communication styles to different personalities, and navigating the complexities of human interactions, which can’t be replaced by AI.
  7. Contextual Understanding: AI may struggle with understanding the contextual nuances that are crucial in PR. Humans excel in interpreting cultural, social, and industry-specific contexts, tailoring communication accordingly. This contextual understanding is vital for effective PR campaigns.

Crisis Planning is Essential

Never has it been more important for companies to clearly define what a crisis IS (and isn’t), and what will happen in the essential minutes if there is a crisis. In a world where millions of messages can spread around the world in an instant, crisis communication planning is required for any company looking to grow.  It isn’t just enterprise companies that have crisis communication risks. When Silicon Valley Bank crashed, thousands of startups were caught in the crosshairs of a heavily covered media crisis, and very few of them had any plans or resources to react. What about crisis planning for an influencer meltdown, or a product recall? What will you do if a competitor goes on national TV and slams your brand or if a TV personality publicly slams your brand?

Crisis communication planning isn’t just a precaution—it’s a strategic imperative. Here’s why we emphasize the vital role of crisis communication planning:

  1. Proactive Reputation Management: Crisis communication planning is a proactive approach to safeguarding your brand’s reputation. By anticipating potential crises, developing response strategies, and establishing communication protocols, you are better positioned to manage and mitigate the impact on your brand’s image.
  2. Timely and Coordinated Response: Time is of the essence during a crisis. Having a well-thought-out communication plan ensures a swift and coordinated response. This agility is crucial for addressing issues promptly, minimizing misinformation, and maintaining control of the narrative.
  3. Building Stakeholder Trust: Trust is the bedrock of any brand. In times of crisis, stakeholders—including customers, employees, and partners—seek transparency and authenticity. A carefully crafted crisis communication plan helps you communicate openly, demonstrating accountability and a commitment to resolving issues.
  4. Navigating Media Scrutiny: Media scrutiny can intensify during a crisis, and having a predefined communication strategy enables you to engage with the media effectively. Whether providing accurate information, managing media inquiries, or disseminating updates, a well-planned approach helps you navigate media challenges confidently.
  5. Protecting Employee Morale: Employees are a crucial asset, and their morale can be deeply affected during a crisis. A clear communication plan ensures that employees are kept informed, reducing uncertainty and anxiety. This, in turn, contributes to maintaining a cohesive and resilient workforce.
  6. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Crises often bring legal and regulatory implications. A comprehensive crisis communication plan considers these factors, ensuring that your communication aligns with legal requirements and regulatory standards. This safeguards your organization from legal ramifications.
  7. Learning from Past Incidents: Effective crisis communication planning involves analyzing and learning from past incidents. This iterative process allows organizations to refine their strategies, update protocols, and continuously improve their ability to handle crises.
  8. Preserving Customer Relationships: Customers are quick to react during a crisis, and their loyalty can be tested. A well-executed crisis communication plan helps you reassure customers, address their concerns transparently, and maintain a positive relationship even in challenging times.
  9. Preserving Market Value: A poorly managed crisis can have lasting effects on market value. Crisis communication planning is an investment in preserving and, in some cases, even enhancing the market value of your brand by demonstrating resilience and a commitment to responsible management.

Buyers are Craving Certainty

All B2B and B2C buyers crave certainty, stability, and trust. It’s been a wild and wooly five years, and this being an election year, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air. While inflation is starting to improve, buyers are still getting used to the “new prices” on items that have essentially stayed mostly flat for a decade or more. In exchange for their hard-earned dollars, buyers want to feel their purchase has been valued and that it’s with a company or product they can trust. Your company needs to be firing on all cylinders to secure new revenues, and buyers simply won’t tolerate actions that create instability or a disconnect between themselves and the brand.  This is another reason thought leadership still plays a crucial role in today’s PR.

This goes for actions big and small. This is why crisis planning is essential, but it’s not just a highly visible PR crisis that brands must stay alert to. If your CEO reschedules meetings regularly, that’s a red flag for potential business partners and media; it makes any and all PR more difficult to get lifted.