We know that social media has changed the way we communicate. We also know the digital age has forced traditional media to re-invent itself. These seismic shifts in communications have in turn changed public relations.

Modern PR needs to do more than enhance the image of a company and raise the awareness of the brand. It is a form of content marketing that should be capitalized upon in the digital space to be a part of the inbound sales and marketing strategy.

Why? Because it is now measureable beyond a summary of earned media. PR is now clickable, downloadable and interactive. Proving ROI through PR is achievable.
A simple press release on your company’s new hire should go beyond two paragraphs and a thumbnail picture in the weekend business section of a newspaper. It should be pushed out on your company’s website, through social media channels and featured in an online trade pub.

And why just put it out there when you can make it an opportunity to invite viewers to your website with backlinks that outside publishers are more than willing to include? That one press release can now start a conversation, increase leads and optimize your search rankings.

Unveiling a new product with a press conference is outdated if you are not live streaming the event and connecting directly with consumers. And why just live stream it, when you can also offer viewers the opportunity to purchase the product online in real time with just a click?

Maximizing social media channels is not the only way a well-planned PR effort can move consumers down the sales funnel.

Thanks to a lack of manpower and a need for advertising dollars, traditional media outlets are allowing brands to have more digital influence than ever before through native advertising. While you still need to pitch stories to both traditional media outlets and online influencers, native advertising is another opportunity for brands to give their opinions on issues that affect their business and their industry. It is part ad, part article and can also be repurposed through social media. That’s good PR and sales marketing.

A great example of PR’s role in content marketing is JetBlue’s FlyBabies campaign, a brand awareness campaign aimed at helping the airline garner a bigger share of families traveling with small children. For one flight, JetBlue awarded all passengers 25 percent off their next flight when a baby on board cried.

The accompanying video of the flight was the centerpiece of a PR campaign that not only earned JetBlue $2 million in earned media, but 5.5 million views through social channels. Those views triggered mention, shares, likes and follows.

In other words, effective PR in the digital age no longer stops at the top of the sales funnel.

Contributions by Madeline Jaquith