10 Ways the PR Industry Has Changed in the Past 10 Years

In honor of REED’s tenth year in business, our founder Lauren reflected on some of the most significant developments in the PR industry over the past decade.

From entirely new service offerings (hello, influencer relations!) to the now instant news cycle, digital has transformed the day-to-day life of PR professionals.

In an age where brands can broadcast and engage with their audiences in real-time through social media, and there is no longer the traditional new cycle, the backbone of our industry remains the same as it was ten years ago: strong writing skills and the ability to creatively communicate a message.

So, precisely what has changed in PR since then? Well, almost all of it. Below are ten ways the industry has evolved in the past decade.

Blending of PR & Marketing 

No longer looked at as two separate functions, PR and marketing professionals now work more closely than ever to execute integrated campaigns.

Marketers and PR professionals share the goal of engaging and creating goodwill with customers. They’re each effective in their own ways to help us accomplish our client’s business goals, and now, using them together streamlines those goals and makes them more efficient.

PR helps brands communicate with their stakeholders, while marketers focus on brand management, advertising and product promotion. Both contribute to a company’s bottom line, and when each discipline is aligned, magic happens!

Importance of Measurement 

When I started the business, PR professionals had just begun to realize the importance of measuring PR against business outcomes. More specifically, measurement had begun to venture beyond press clippings and toward the campaign’s impact on the audience’s perception, market shares and sales. In other words, PR blended with marketing.

Measuring our work is as vital as ever. Over the years, we’ve been able to dig deeper and drill down on the data, analytics and insight from both campaigns and the market, helping to make informed future decisions. It’s critical to include data that supports what we are doing; with new technology, tracking our work is much easier.

Making Life Easier for the Journalist  

Over the years, I have noticed that many of the editors with whom we collaborated were less interested in conducting client interviews, gravitating more toward guest columns.

There are a few reasons for this, but one of the most important reasons was that they needed more staff or time to deal with all the story ideas. Instead, they requested that we collaborate with clients to submit byline articles.

Nowadays, fewer people have more things to write about. So, while making life easier for journalists should have always been a priority, it is now even more critical to ensure our clients get results.

PR professionals must ask themselves not only, “What does the media want to hear?” but also, “How can I make it easy for them to cover my client?”

It is still possible to secure thoughtful, in-depth news pieces, but the legwork and preparation required are much more thorough.

Social Media Marketing

Can you imagine a world without Instagram, Facebook or Twitter? Social media has changed how PR is done. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook allow businesses to interact directly with their audiences, increase awareness and build credibility and trust among current and potential customers.

Mainly, brands can use social media to get people talking, encourage people to share posts and boost marketing. As if that weren’t enough, hyper-targeting tools are now available on social media, serving users relevant content based on their demographics.

The Rise of Influencers 

Influencer relations has become a mainstream practice and is one of the most significant ways the PR industry has changed in the past ten years. The movement has fundamentally altered how brands sell to and connect with consumers.

One of the most common ways for influencers to market businesses is through their media influencer accounts. As far as content marketing is concerned, an influencer may create content to spread the word about companies, or we may make that content for them. Influencer relations works because it targets your brand’s specific audience more subtly.

This is one of our fastest-growing services, and it is one that didn’t even exist when I founded REED.

An Increase in Thought Leadership Opportunities within Industries 

Thought leadership is an excellent opportunity for our clients to get their expertise out into the world. This tactic expresses ideas that demonstrate expertise in a particular field through contributed articles, speaking opportunities, blogs and other means.

This has certainly grown over the past decade, and experienced PR professionals are aware of the audiences their experts should present themselves to make the greatest impact.

Paid Media is more Prevalent, but Earned Media Still Dominates

Every time we open a browser, use an app or drive home from work, we are bombarded with paid advertisements. Earned media is publicity or exposure gained from methods other than paid advertising. This form of media can connect with customers more genuinely.

PR professionals build relationships with the media to share a brand’s content rather than posting self-promotional sponsored articles on customers’ newsfeeds. We are all drawn to more genuine reviews, and earned media contributes to the real attraction of customers to your brand.

Building Media Relationships 

Securing earned media is more challenging than ever. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches per day while being tasked with creating more content under tighter deadlines.

Due to this, many pitches are left unopened. The best way to ensure our pitch gets read is to have a preexisting relationship with the journalist we’re pitching. Getting familiar with their work, interacting on social media and respecting deadlines are a few ways we can build media relationships.

Adopting a Storytelling Approach

How PR professionals communicate with their target audiences has significantly transformed recently. PR’s primary objective is to establish mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its audience. By communicating in a language that viewers understand, effective storytelling adds value to this process.

For example, storytelling makes news and content relatable, cuts through the noise, gets messages heard and creates exciting and easily digestible content.

The Rise of the Public in PR (Crisis Management) 

The fact that PR is now a real-time business is another change. Thanks to technology, PR formats have evolved due to the speed at which news spreads.

As technology has become cheaper and faster, sharing real-time content has become more accessible. We must be prepared to respond when news breaks immediately. The duration of new cycles is now measured in minutes and hours rather than days. Communicating with target audiences and industry influencers through multiple channels in a real-time environment is a must.

As you can see, the industry has changed immensely, and I imagine it changing even more in the next ten years. As someone who leads with a seven on the Enneagram, this variety challenges and excites me! Will REED one day have a “bricks and mortar” location in the metaverse? Who knows?

While I cannot predict exactly what the next big thing in the PR industry will be, I know that if we keep the foundational PR skills of research, writing, and creatively communicating at the forefront, we’ll be equipped to handle whatever is thrown our way.