The Changing Role of a PR Firm

Written by Bryanne DeGoede, Managing Partner, BLND Public Relations

Public relations firms have had an evolving scope of services over the years. In 2014, when I first opened BLND PR in Los Angeles, content creation and other press services were nowhere near as expansive as they are now. Today, PR is for everyone — every entrepreneur, every small business, and every talent. In this article, we’ll talk about what public relations firms have traditionally been known for and how they’ve turned into the full-service agencies they are today. With today’s savvy consumer and variety of platforms available, PR is no longer just for the giants. Here’s why.

In the Beginning...

It used to be that only the largest, richest companies had PR firms on retainer. With little to no social media, slower internet, and overall fewer news outlets, the traditional role of a PR firm was highly centered around the press release.

Large companies (think Mattel or Disney) would hire a PR firm to publish press releases on the wire. These websites like were one of the primary ways large announcements or major company news were communicated to the press. Journalists would often check the wire for the latest information on companies and incorporate this into their stories.

For smaller businesses or entrepreneurs during this time — a time before the internet had the massive selection of platforms it has today — any marketing dollars primarily went toward paid advertisements. With fewer options for contacting the public, paid media was the main method many companies turned to in order to control or shape their image. Then came the creation of social media.

Social Media Has Entered the Chat

In the early days of social media, PR firms assisted mostly in posting regularly scheduled content for brands. With simpler platforms (like no Stories or Reels on Instagram), PR firms helped companies keep up on a few weekly posts in order to stay active on their social channels. For the really small companies, it was still a simple enough task that many of them handled the job themselves, rather than paying to outsource it.

Flash Forward to Today

Jump forward fifteen or so years now of social media really being prevalent in the world and a lot has changed. Platforms are complex and offer the ability to give instant, real-time updates. There are tons of news outlets (legitimate or otherwise) everywhere you look and on every style of platform.

Modern companies of all sizes need help staying relevant and on-trend, as well as fighting for a chance to be seen in a saturated marketplace. Now, PR firms offer in-depth services like creating the content for you, posting, monitoring its performance, and nurturing your social communities. As experts in the communications industry, full social management services like this have been a natural evolution suited to the skills of PR professionals.

Earned Media

The wide availability of social channels, and consequently social ads, has been a catalyst for a change in perspective toward paid media placements in the eyes of today’s savvy consumer. Audiences are inundated with ads everywhere they turn, which has led to an increasing numbness towards their effects. Today’s consumer craves authenticity. This decrease in brand’s profiting solely from paid media has increased the demand for one service in particular for PR firms everywhere: earned media.

In order to stand out from the pack of other brand advertisements, PR firms are the experts you need to gain earned media placements in organic news stories. We do this by knowing which outlets would have genuine interest in your company’s product or service, then joining forces with them to achieve earned press. Whether it’s stories, gift guides, roundups, or other news features, we find publications and outlets that align with your goal and are searching for what you’re selling. You get organic coverage, the journalist gets their story, and we dust ourselves off knowing we’ve accomplished a job well done.

For clients who opt for the comprehensive service packages, PR firms are able to not only achieve earned media placements but leverage those placements on your brand’s social accounts as well. It’s not just about getting the coverage — the true experts know what to do with that coverage in order to reach the maximum number of people. That’s the beauty of modern PR today.

But Hold On, What About the Press Release?

Press releases still have a purpose, but are much less the focus for companies and PR firms. For announcements that require a formal communication, PR firms do still publish press releases on the wire. However, in this new era, what used to require a press release may only need a couple of polished Instagram posts instead.

To conclude, the PR firm has evolved over the years and especially with the recent explosion of social media options. What hasn’t changed is that we are still the experts in knowing how to shape your brand’s image and get your company in front of the audience you need.

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