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Modern PR means breadth of skills in addition to depth

What does your public relations agency or department do? What services does it offer? If the menu of publicity offerings hasn't expanded in the past few years, you may be in danger of falling behind. The social-saturated, always-on world is a complicated space for companies to engage with, but there's no going back. Lack of engagement with a particular trend or area of expertise raises the potential of serious blind spots.

When you link traditional earned media coverage and monitoring with a host of new services, you increase your potential value. Audience perception today links campaigns across all platforms, and stretches between paid marketing and PR. Working to establish connections with responsibilities that have historically been beyond PR's purview is a survival strategy today.

What agencies must do now

Forbes Communications Council contributor Glenn Gray specified that a few market forces are driving PR forward as an industry. For instance, the compression of media channels has increased the importance of alternative communications. When a large number of brands are vying for attention on one of a smaller number of traditional platforms, an agency that can go around the system, speaking directly to the audience, has an edge over a PR team that can't make such creative moves.

Gray added that even when performing the most classic PR activity - pitching stories to journalists - contemporary PR agencies should step up their use of modern tactics. The importance of imagery and video has risen steadily in recent years, and these elements can serve a dual purpose: Compelling visual media can make a great part of a pitch to a news channel, and makes a great piece of social media content, directly speaking to consumers.

The push to use social media also intersects with PR activity in other ways. Gray noted that there is plenty of valuable information to be gleaned from social feeds. Furthermore, many journalists are highly active on platforms such as Twitter. This means that making a solid connection with sources in the press could rely on digital literacy. Whether your agency or department is pushing into new services or just attempting to shore up its fundamentals, social media will probably play a role.

Learning the ecosystem

Social channels are a varied group of different online spaces, and learning to optimize PR performance on each one is one part of branding in today's industry. Therefore, becoming a social-connected PR agency doesn't just mean learning one set of competencies, but rather being flexible and dealing with a host of different audiences. There will be numerous opportunities to work with the marketing department in the social space, as the lines between paid ads and organically spread content are razor-thin.

According to PR Daily, it's worth discovering the unique character of each network. For instance, Facebook is such a widely used ecosystem, home to numerous niche audiences, brands can and should try varied outreach tactics there. On the other hand, Instagram is a way to reach a large and dedicated audience on a personal level, where posts should feel authentic rather than synthetic. Then there's Snapchat, which skews very young and rewards bold, localized content.

Modern as a state of mind

Today's PR best practices include being ready to adapt to new environments and grow constantly. An agency or department that is just interested in getting in line with current trends and preferences will find itself falling behind again before long. Staying alert, aware and in a constant mode of discovery, expansion and collaboration can make a PR team truly modern. Technology isn't a distinct form of expertise to master - it has begun to color every kind of interaction, whether with consumers, the media or co-workers.

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