The future of public relations is co-creation

As a profession, we're struggling to define exactly what our it means to be a PR professional in today's converging digital world.

Are we media relations professionals, responsible for driving an earned editorial agenda, are we influencer managers, responsible for shepherding a growing cohort of influencers, are we content creators, playing entirely in the owned space, or are we experts in paid media, managing cross-platform spend? Are we really just turning into marketing professionals?

The answer is we're a little bit of all of the above. But the one thing that defines all of these roles is co-creation. The co-creation of content across a range of earned, owned and paid channels where we can influence public perception, drive shifts in behaviour and create new possibilities for our clients.

Co-creation is when different parties blend ideas together to produce a mutually valued outcome - whether it be a new feature for an app, a new product line or a great outcome for a client. The best examples of applying the principles of co-creation are campaigns where influencers, media buyers, agency, in-house and creative are all working together towards joint outcomes.

While we've become adept at co-creating with influencers, marketing, media buyers and the like, we're still working out how exactly we can co-create content with the media.

So how do we apply the principles of co-creating to our media interactions?

It starts with a fairly simple rule - everyone in the transaction needs to bring as much value as possible to the exchange. While traditionally many public relations professionals have viewed themselves as story shapers and a channel through which media can access great content and spokespeople, now we need to be packaging up the content and spokespeople in media ready formats.

This means that supplying a case study isn't enough - when you pitch in a case study you need to supply short video grabs for television, sound bites for a radio story and high quality still images for digital and print outlets. It means helping media create content for their platforms by offering to pay for transcription services for interviews, doing some of the legwork of the story for them, coming at your role from the perspective of 'how do I make my media contacts lives easier?' not 'how do I drive media coverage on topic X or Y?' because you'll find by doing the first approach right, the second one comes naturally.

Think outside the box. How can you provide raw data in formats that are easily visualised through open source tools like Mapbox, Carto, how can you pre-format graphs so that they're ready for publication? Think beyond the infographic to how you'll present information in a way that can be easily converted into a graphic in a journalist's story.

Think about the multiple channels that a journalist needs to work in. Do your pitches have content for Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat ready to go?

Finally, make sure you're getting the content to them in a way they can use it. Whether it's through creating a multi-media release on Public Address, a branded media center or a micro-site for the campaign, make sure your content isn't getting lost in the post and is accessible by media wherever they are, and from whatever device they're working from. Just like us, media are working across two or three devices, balancing a dozen stakeholders and just trying to get it done.

Don't forget to have some fun well you set out to co-create some amazing outcomes with media. I promise you'll find it more rewarding, enjoyable and that it consistently delivers better results.