Not unlike most business sectors, in recent years, technological advances have helped transform the public relations industry.

By; Holly Silvestri

Today's successful public relations initiatives rely on a delicate, often complex combination of available technology--combined with professional media and communications acumen--in order to achieve their desired goals. Put simply: while important, technological advancements are-and should be seen as-useful tools in the proverbial PR toolbox; addendums to, rather than replacements for, professional PR and communication skills and perspicacity.

In the era of social media, public relations 'success' can be a challenge to both attain-and accurately measure. There remains an understanding that core PR skills and acumen are still required in order to achieve our clients' PR goals. With that in mind, here are five of the most important factors to consider when developing-and implementing-a public relations program in 2019:

1. Establish Measurable Goals /Objectives When Drafting Your PR Plan:

There's an old adage that says, "you can't get to where you're going if you don't know your destination." That adage certainly holds true when it comes to achieving public relations objectives in 2019. The fact is that in an age of 24/7 informational deluge, it has never been more difficult to be heard above the 'din' of other organizations competing for media and public attention. An all-too-common error is the belief that an explosion in the number of media and information sources makes it easier to achieve public relations goals; in truth, quite often the opposite holds true.In today's media environment, both consumers of news and information, and those who purvey in it, are inundated with a non-stop and steady stream of information; in order to be heard, and for a public relations outreach to be successful, it is imperative to establish realistic, measurable PR objectives at the outset; in the Internet era, a 'scattershot' approach to PR is most likely destined to fail.

Establishing clearly defined PR targets achieves two critically important goals: a targeted PR initiative provides a yardstick by which to measure the success of your PR campaign, and helps ensure that you--or your PR vendor--selects the correct technological tools needed to achieve your objectives. 2. Understand-And Communicate--What Makes Your Company 'Special’

Every successful company or organization has unique products or services that helps delineate it from its competition. In order to succeed in any PR/media relations effort, it's critically important to highlight the unique aspects that distinguish your organization from others who may proffer similar products and services.

Creating a successful PR campaign should also be seen as an opportunity to help define your business and clarify your corporate 'mission.' Understanding who you are, as a company or organization, and what makes you unique among your competition is always a positive accomplishment, but never more so than prior to commencing a PR campaign; own your 'story' before you share it with the world.

3. Select A PR Vendor That Aligns Well With Your Corporate Culture

Any successful businessperson is well aware that the people you choose to hire ultimately become 'ambassadors' for your business; your employees are viewed by most of your customers as a reflection of the qualities of your organization. Nowhere is this axiom truer than when selecting a PR firm. As is the case with all industries, within the PR sector not all firms share the same core qualities or corporate culture. When interviewing PR firms, it's important to delve beyond the 'gloss' and try to discern if the company shares the same priorities that align with your own. Performing due diligence-asking probing questions about the history and specialty of the PR vendor--will ultimately help ensure you select a firm that aligns well with your own organizational goals and culture.

4. Be Prepared To Commit The Requisite Time And Resources

As with any important business project, undertaking a successful public relations outreach requires a commitment of the resources needed to achieve the designated goals.

The cliché that 'Rome wasn't built in a day' is equally applicable to that of an organization's reputation. Depending upon the history of the company (i.e. a start-up business will most likely require more time to achieve its PR goals than an established brand name), the amount of time, staff hours and capital needed to attain public relations goals will vary widely.

What remains constant, however, is the need for recognition by an organization's decision makers that in order to achieve PR objectives, a sufficient amount of time and resources must be allocated. With proper planning-and, if needed, external assistance by a PR vendor-the amount of resources required can be controlled and successfully managed within a designated budget.

However, at the end of the day, realism must prevail and there needs to be an acknowledgement by organizational leadership of the importance of achieving PR goals and the willingness to commit the resources needed to reach that destination.

5. Reputation Management Is Critical To Long-Term PR Success

The Internet has, of course, transformed the way the world conducts business, as well as the way that consumers decide which businesses to patronize.

Adding to the challenge of organizational reputation management is the reality of living in an age of 24/7 information, wherein social media platforms proffer consumers the opportunity to share their views with others, be they located around the corner or around the globe.

As a result, in order to optimize the short- and longer-term return on investment (ROI) of a public relations initiative, the optimal choice would be to permanently dedicate at least some resources to overseeing your organization's online reputation-particularly within the social media sphere. This can be done either in-house or through an external vendor specializing in this type of service. For example: the benefits of achieving a successful new product launch through a combination of marketing and public relations can be reversed-and the ROI subsequently diminished-if an organization does not follow up on its efforts with online reputation management. It's critically important to know what the online community is saying about your products and services and ensure that canards aren't allowed to be repeated frequently enough to become the unchallenged 'truth.'

Successful public relations is neither an 'art' nor a 'science,' but rather a combination of both. Through meticulous planning, and a combination of professional communications and media acumen-along with the right technological 'tools' and requisite resources-a successful PR initiative can result in both short and long term ROI, and has the potential to dramatically improve a company's bottom line.

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