Adaptation has always been the essence of public relations, and 2022 is no exception when it comes to local firms, which have had to keep a diligent eye on several rapidly changing factors that impact their work and their clients’ goals.
Kahn Media is one such firm. No. 1 on the Business Journal’s PR Firm list, Kahn Media finds itself paying more attention to independent content creators, which have become a significant factor in creating buzz for clients.
The increased prevalence of independent media has been fueled by the effects of Covid, an unpredictable economy and heightened political attention, according to Dan Kahn, Kahn Media’s chief executive officer. What is working in independent creators’ favor, Kahn said, is that they have more ways to make money; increased loyalty from audiences; and a much easier and accessible time growing their online presence.
Popular social media services and websites that have boosted the creator economy include Patreon, TikTok, Twitch, Substack and OnlyFans. Many of these have given people such artists as channels, entertainers and the opportunity to earn income and build audiences on their own terms.
Kahn recalled a recent press event involving a client at which multiple travel were in attendance alongside a digital influencer. “(The influencer’s) content is up and reaching hundreds of thousands of people before she ever went to the airport to fly home,” Kahn said.
Noting the impact of independent content creators, Kahn comes emphasizing that his firm is still trying to keep things balanced when it to the PR services it provides. “We’re not only doing traditional PR or influencers, we’re not just doing podcasts,” he said. “We do try and find a sort of integrated approach where we’re helping our clients while also being cognizant of the fact that this landscape is going to continue to change.”
A headwind faced by Kahn Media has been getting through what Kahn referred to as a “hijacked media cycle” that has made the press more focused on velocity and less available for PR firms.
“I don’t think that’s any individual journalist’s choice, I think that’s just part of the pressures of the news cycle and the way the system has evolved,” Kahn said. “Because of that, breaking through has become a little harder.”
The changing PR landscape has also forced firms to push harder on clients when it comes to reaching a broader audience through differing forms of social media.
Dianne McKay of Thousand Oaks-based Mustang Marketing, No. 15 on the list, has been party to such a change, which she said was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
McKay said that Mustang has advised clients on how to produce more engaging content and create genuine connections as conferences and face-to-face meetings have become less common. “If you want to talk to people and have people see your face, you have to keep pushing the envelope of what you were comfortable with,” she said.
Kahn acknowledged hybrid elements of in-person events nowadays, which he said in some cases have proven successful. He added that the “new paradigm” may involve companies holding physical events with remote options, allowing hardcore audience members and casual consumers to choose how engaged they want to be.
Another tactic Mustang has pushed is encouraging clients to focus on community relations — something the company has done with local chambers of commerce, healthcare providers, realtors and educational institutions.
“Instead of just public relations and sending out press releases, we’re making sure clients are staying in touch with local legislators so when clients need them, they already know them,” McKay said. “I’d like to think that’s how we differentiate ourselves, by really making sure that our clients have a full breadth of community relations as well.”
Mustang is seeking to fill vacancies in its employee base, according to McKay, a situation the firm shares with Burbank PR firm Consensus Inc, which is No. 2 on the PR list.
According to Josh Gertler, the company’s chief executive officer, Consensus has had to navigate a hiring crunch.
“Recruiting and hiring is really tough these days. There’s a shortage of talent, and that is ubiquitous across all industries, we are not immune to that,” Gertler said, adding that the current market is looking for and valuing candidates that understand the subtleties and nuances of the Greater Los Angeles Area.
A trend that will shape future hires by Consensus, according to Gertler, is an emerging interest from clients in data mining.
A public relations trend list created by content marketing platform prnews.io placed predictive analytics at the top, stating that the insights pulled by predictive analysis tools will stand to benefit brands, customers and PR managers.
“For a PR firm, we have to build the talent that can collect (data), organize it, analyze it, and make meaning of it for not just us, but for our clients,” Gertler said. “And that’s more of a right brain versus left brain matter, which is more PR and journalism.”