Some people out there will argue that traditional public relations as it was once known is dead (or, rather, dying a slow death). Others will say that traditional public relations has simply evolved – that the message is the same but the delivery of the message is what has changed significantly. Either way, if you’re over 40 and aren’t an early adopter you may very well be looking at a career change.

Today, there are two types of public relations and then there’s a whole bunch of stuff in between.

Proactive public relations – which has an inbound marketing strategy at its core and includes a strong content creation program and social media strategy including news releases, timely story pitches and media alerts for media-friendly events.

Reactive public relations – which includes managing your reputation and responding to what’s being said about you, your medical practice (or any type of business for that matter) and your specialty across the internet and in the real world.

Why your business needs to be proactive:
• 84% of all marketers agree that building consumer trust will become marketing’s primary objective in the near future.
• More than 92% of buyers regularly check reviews online before making a purchase or service decision.
• 78% of consumers trust peer recommendation while only 14% trust advertisements.
• 4 out of 5 people say they have received advice via social media regarding what product or service to purchase.

A recent study by Hubspot says that businesses that practice inbound marketing (where customers find you and CONTENT IS KING) increase leads an average of 4.2 times within a few months. It was also reported that 70% of customers (patients) prefer getting to know a company (your medical practice) via articles rather than advertisements.

If you want potential customers to find you, then you need to put stuff out there for them to find (like videos, articles, announcements, photos, presentations, etc.) and you need to do it consistently.

When well executed, an effective content management plan will increase your organic search listings, protect your online reputation and drive traffic to your website. I would argue that if you are thinking about hiring a public relations firm to increase your visibility in the marketplace, consider hiring an inbound marketing firm that specializes in content development, social media and online reputation management. They should have a clear understanding of the do’s and don’ts in public relations but also a clear understanding and ability to get your messaging out there in the non-traditional outlets. Long gone are the days where the only way to get noticed was to get picked up in your local newspaper or television station. Today, the Internet including social media and blogging has afforded us the opportunity to bypass the traditional media outlets altogether and deliver our messages directly to consumers. Public relations today has become more about about search engine optimization (SEO) and getting your news indexed on the first page of Google then about getting your story covered on the evening news.

If you are looking to get picked up in the traditional sense, one thing that certainly hasn’t changed in the realm of public relations is the need to make your business relevant to the news cycle. Making yourself relevant will increase your odds of getting picked up tenfold.

Being relevant to the current news cycle is a great way to get your business and brand some good publicity and a nice way to help improve your online reputation at the same time (this means you are practicing both proactive and reactive public relations).

For example, the Florida State Legislature recently passed a new law requiring that all high-school athletes receive clearance from a physician after receiving a concussion related injury on the field. We saw this as an opportunity to get one of our clients positioned with the local television news as an expert on youth athletic injuries and overuse injuries. We also saw this as the right time to announce our client’s new baseline testing concussion program for area high schools. Not only were they able to create some great content for their website, which will go a long way for their online reputation management, but they have received a good deal of traction with the program too.

If you’re a fan of the HBO series, True Blood, then you’ve noticed that the vampires are being forced to evolve or die this season. The same goes to public relations professionals and the companies who use them – either evolve or get ready for a new career.