Is Traditional PR Dead? What Startups Need To Know In 2019

By Pablo Londoño Published: 31 October, 2018 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 4:58 pm

2019 framed photo

Traditional PR is dead. And for good reason: the current pool of available journalists and high quality publications that PR can actually target is at its lowest. Or at least it’s shrinking. Since journalists, as you may have already realised by the degree to which your pitches are getting the attention you seek, are increasingly time-pressured, PR and media relations in general have been progressively becoming a game of luck. Interesting and newsworthy stories that require time to explain end up being ignored.

Despite the fact that PR has been around since the early 1900s, every year its standards get a new interpretation, and entrepreneurs, faithful to their adaptable nature, work to manage their brands whilst staying on top of the latest media trends. But that is likely to change. The time when companies would only resort to PR to manage their brand’s reputation against crises is over. Under today’s circumstances, effective public relations means addressing every interaction independently to keep ourselves on the map. So, what does 2019 look like for PR? Here are several shifts entrepreneurs and startups should pay special attention to:

The strategy

Execution is everything to a well-crafted PR strategy. As a startup, and given the fact that the industry is constantly changing, you have to define your starting point and direction. To effectively guide your proposals, start by implementing the SMART goal setting approach that considers objectives as specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Once you lay out your groundwork, your startup can pitch its content with higher chances of earning media attention—and with the assurance journalists always need.

smart goals infographic

Focus on keeping your strategy innovative and, above all, purposeful. Be true to your entrepreneurial nature and be ready to respond to challenges with creativity. Remember: 2019 is all about orbiting consumers through compelling messages that engage with them exactly where they are.

Get rid of that template from 2015

Well, maybe you got that template earlier, but do get rid of that one-size-fits-all PR approach. Instead, focus on your clients and potential customers, your startup’s unique message for each audience, and platform to create a more enticing and intentional approach that stands a better chance of resonating with them. 2019 is all about keeping up to date on the relationship you have already established with your audience and getting valuable key insights in order for you to adapt or change, if necessary, your content strategy and tone. Given the emergence of hundreds of stories that aren’t newsworthy, building and maintaining trust with your audience and media channels will be key. Thus, by using tailored content that speaks directly to your audience, customers and potential clients, your startup can ensure its success.

Delete sign being displayed on laptop screen

Speak with your team

Make the most out of your in-house resources, even if you are all by yourself (which is more than common in the entrepreneurial world). Be that as it may, always strive to pair both social and PR teams to create informed decisions regarding what would be the most relevant information for your audience. This isn’t just cost-effective; but also refines your strategy development process, facilitating a more direct way of communicating, which ultimately allows you to produce higher-quality work and conversations.

Think of it this way. Your social media team knows where conversations are happening, whereas PR knows what those conversations should be. What should you do, then? The answer is simple: get there. By being aware of the conversations that are taking place online you can connect with your audience and better tailor your content, your pitches and your messages.

Additionally, your analytics team will play a vital role as well. The biggest mistake a startup makes when approaching PR is not talking to the analytics team. Think of press releases, for example: CEOs, startup founders and entrepreneurs spend hours writing and editing a compelling press release in hopes of earning media attention. Did your team give you an UTM tracking code? Or better yet, did you know that backlinks earned through press releases are good for your startup’s SEO metrics? Yes, a lot falls under the public relations umbrella, so you’d better prepare yourself for what’s to come.

2019 will be all about the R

As mentioned earlier in this article, 2019 will all come down to orbiting your audience in a way that doesn’t scare them. It has become more important than even to put individuals (your customers) first, especially with the expansion PR will be taking and startups’ growing dependence on technology. Simply put: a good reputation will do practically 90% of the job for you when reaching out to potential customers.

No matter how long it took you to master today’s digital skills or how many times you have already iterated your strategy, nothing will replace good communication and solid relationships. By strengthening your existing relationships and seeking new ones with intentions you just don’t stand better chances of growing, but also of fortifying your startup’s network.

So, as a startup, gone are the days when you would hire PR firms to just earn media. Next year will be a game-changer for PR, and a lot will fall under the public relations threshold —media relations will be one of the most coveted services simply because they can yield the most value. PR will be all about building your reputation, which, as a startup making its way amidst today’s competitive juncture, will be pivotal for your brand. Read our guide to PR in 2019 to get even more of an overview.