Sponsor insights: PR’s performance on the digital stage

Digitalization of PR has created a landscape in which traditional methods are no longer limited by the restrictions of outdated technology. In this exciting new era of marketing, the digital realm has paved the way for endless advancements and opportunities, while simultaneously improving efficiencies.

PR and influence marketing are not mutually exclusive fields. Rather, they are codependent methods that, when combined, can catapult your company to the next level, influence marketing.

We sat down with epresspack’s founder and CEO Antoun Sfeir, to discuss all things PR, influence marketing, marketing communications, and the forever changing relationship between them.

What was the inspiration behind epresspack?

I saw a shift in the industry and in the media. It was apparent that there was an increased need for content in multiple formats. With a new wave of content being produced comes with it a need for the right tools to manage its production, while simplifying the interaction between brands and their audience. That’s where the idea for epresspack came in.

How would you describe the evolving relationship between influence marketing and PR?

The two are becoming more interlinked as consumers need for content in all forms is growing. PR has traditionally been about storytelling and brand stories. What we are seeing now with influence marketing is the huge surge in demand for content production and stories as well. Marketing relies on brand content and content engagement, something PR professionals are experts at.

With the impact of social media, we use numerous platforms to either find or share content- we go to a website to find content, we use Facebook to share content. In this sense, marketing has become less and less about publicity and more about content distribution.

Where PR comes in is by giving digital marketers reach—putting company content into influencer hands such as journalists, influencers, bloggers, and getting it published and shared. That’s the influence marketing age.

How have traditional PR practices remained relevant despite the rapidly changing landscape?

Traditional PR practices refers to engagement with journalists and getting them to cover your stories.  This is definitely still relevant. The only difference is that the journalists now look different- they’re influencers, bloggers, Instagrammers. They publish relevant content for various platforms; for an online audience, a social media audience, a print audience.

It’s becoming more about creating and distributing content that can be reusable across platforms in the right format. That’s how traditional PR can help marketing—by getting journalists to use content that is created in house, not just publicity, but usable content to support stories.

What are the main challenges of a PR professional moving into the digital age?

I think there are two main challenges—tools and strategy.

Strategy, in terms of having a clear idea of how to engage journalists. What kind of content are they looking for? How do I present and format my content so that it’s appealing to journalists?

And tools, in terms of using the right software to support content in different formats. Using software that is flexible, up to date, quick. As well as getting to grips with optimization tools for the web, email and social media.

This can be a challenge for any seasoned PR professional.

How can PR professionals leverage the newfound ability to track and monitor the distribution of their content?

Nowadays tools come with built-in analytics and statistics, with the right tools, you can see who is reading your content and what the impact of your communication are. In doing so, you are able to feed the information to your marketers.

For example, if you’re launching a new brand or a new campaign and you are using certain images, you can track which ones are the most popular. You then know which ones to feed into your distribution and where to invest.

How does ROI play into how PR professionals present themselves inter-departmentally?

Basically, they are now even more driven by accountability. With the ability to clearly define ROI in a quantifiable manner in PR, they need to not only share internally the media coverage they are getting with other departments, but to also speak in terms of the value they’ve added, such as additional traffic they are driving to the website and insights on content being used.

The changing relationship between PR and influence marketing is continuing to blur boundaries between the two disciplines transitioning into a potential new role of influencer marketing. Traditional practices of the past remain very relevant but are being adapted for a digital audience that has an insatiable appetite for all forms of content. Communication specialists and digital marketers are now working closer than ever to optimize marketing results. Staying competitive today means embracing the changing PR field as it finds its feet within the world of the digiterati.

About the speaker / Antoun Sfeir began his higher education with a masters in business administration before moving into Marketing. He joined PR Newswire in France where he was instrumental in its success, building it up to be the largest affiliate in Continental Europe. With a desire for a new challenge, Sfeir set out to develop a new content management software system which would later become epresspack.