Here are three reasons why PR agencies and their skills might actually become more in demand in coming years.
1) Ad blocking makes PR and media relations skills more valuable
The number of consumers using ad blocking software – which stops ads from appearing on pages while they are surfing the web – has grown 41% globally in the past year according to new data. While this is bad news for publishers (who need to find alternative ways to monetize their content), it does kind of mean that PR and media relations (which focus on driving editorial coverage) are going to be valued more highly if brands want to see themselves featured within online publications. It also means advertorials and sponsored articles (another area where PRs usually get involved) will potentially become more common in online media. Of course it’s worth stressing that PRs will not be rejoicing about the prospect of online publishers struggling with falling ad revenues in the wake of increasing ad blocking.
2) Content quality is becoming more important for search success
A recent study by Searchmetrics has found that high quality content that’s relevant to the searcher’s query is more important than ever if you want your web pages to rank well in Google searches. Again this is something that’s likely to drive greater demand for PR people’s content generation skills. The research, which analysed the top 30 search results for 10,000 keyword searches to work out what factors high ranking pages had in common, also indicates that you need to have more words on the page, make your content easy to understand (for the audience you are targeting) and cover topics more comprehensively if you want to boost rankings. And it suggests that Google pays attention to user signals such as bounce rates and time on site, which are partly dependent on the quality of content on a web page.
3) People engage more with longer content!
Most internet marketers assume that web pages need to be populated by short, easy-to-consume content. However there is growing evidence that you can drive better results by using longer, more detailed content. For example research by Chartbeat reveals that 55% of viewers who click-through to content pages on websites spend fewer than 15 seconds there – but if you hold a visitor’s attention for just three minutes, they’ll bee more than twice as likely to return (than if you keep them interested for under a minute). So while shorter content might drive clicks, longer, more detailed content that keeps visitors’ attention longer, is more likely to keep them coming back. And if they come back, then surely that’s one step on the road to building a positive relationship that can turn them from visitors into customers. So (you know where I’m going with this) who would most marketing departments generally turn to for generating longer, editorial style content? Of couse, it’s the PR department or agency.
I’m forever seeing articles and blogs proclaiming that PR agencies are under threat from search, social, and purely content focused agencies. But I think that well trained, intelligent PRs that know how to write and tell stories and to develop content ideas that journalists find useful, will always be in demand.