By Melissa A Vitale
During an inflation and recession, public relations can help maintain consumer interest and loyalty while increasing brand awareness across consumer audiences to garner new customers. However, the earned media landscape has transformed drastically since the start of the pandemic. Because of that, startups considering Public Relations services this year need to plan strategically in advance for announcements and PR campaigns.
Since 2020, newsrooms have been continuously consolidating. In January 2020, any given publication could have feature reporters, celebrity reporters and on-the-street reporters covering similar topics at the same magazine. However, year after year of declined subscribers and lack of events, travels and other in-person coverage opportunities, roles have been consolidated as reporters are only attending events via Zoom or locally, leaving more time for writing. Every quarter, publicists and journalists alike take to twitter to see if anyone they knew was victim to the latest headlines of mass-journalism layoffs.
Journalism's tone has shifted for 2023. We're going into our third year of a global pandemic, global warming destroys lives and communities monthly, there's a war going on half a world away that effects the prices down the street. Companies that relished profit during the pandemic, now hit hard by inflation, are laying off employees in droves. Individuals, faced with job loss, climate and world crisis, and many experiencing mental illness are searching less about pleasures and more for necessities like mental and physical health topics.
Public relations itself is shifting as the topics journalists are covering, deviate more and more from startup brand messages. When their readers are googling questions about depression and anxiety, editors are less likely to prioritize excessive stories about unrelated individual products. Publicists need to align their clients' products with the conversations that journalists are having with their readers.
Three years ago, it was enough to get the occasional full-feature product review, regular inclusions in round-ups and thought leadership were enough to raise awareness of brand and garner new sales and customers. But as we enter the era of web3, SEO matters less and content is king. Public relations campaigns require individual assets like themed imagery, videos and social media posts. If a product wants to claim it boosts mental health, that needs to be on the package, on the website, in the marketing materials. It is not enough anymore to have an everyday product publicized for a specific mission.
Because of all these shifts in the media market over the last three years, brands need to plan in-advance any public relations efforts they'd like to see return on. Pre-pandemic, publicists needed four to eight weeks to publicize a launch. Now, you'll want to plan about six months in advance.
Due to the budget restrictions newsrooms face, there's less available time to cover announcements, unless there's a publicist with great relationships and even better planning. If a brand knows they'll be launching a product in February for Valentine's Day, the public relations team needs to start pitching the product around September to ensure multi-publication coverage. Brands telling their publicist in January about a Valentine's Day launch are going to have a very disappointing day of love.
With strong relationships and coordinated assets months before, a great publicist can make sure that any launch is a coverage success.
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Melissa A Vitale Public Relations
A public relations agency specializing in brands and startups in artificial intelligence, sexual wellness and legal cannabis.