Defining “Modern” PR & How to Nail It, with Kate Johnson

Share In a Post:
Author: PANBlast logo


Defining “Modern” PR & How to Nail It, with Kate Johnson

Digital, modern, non-traditional…how do you define today’s PR? It has evolved, and brands who understand how to play in the current landscape are gaining mindshare.

In this episode, Kate Johnson, VP of PR at PANBlast, dives into what has driven PR’s evolution, how brands should think differently about connecting with millennial buyers, and the new expectations around PR measurement.

What makes PR modern, anyway?
First, let’s get one thing straight: Storytelling is still the heart of PR. Although the world’s preferred mode of communication(s) may have changed, impactful stories still drive impactful PR, and according to Kate, that’s not changing anytime soon.

“It’s still so important to build those relationships with media. It’s important to be able to mine the right ideas out of our executives and be able to tell that story to an external audience and an internal audience — that really has stayed the same,” said Kate.

However, Kate said the way we tell stories is shifting. Specifically, strategic communications have become critical, leading to heightened collaboration between all stakeholders, including internal comms teams, marketing and PR agencies, and C-suite executives. After all, internal communications can become external in the blink of an eye.

“There has to be a symbiotic relationship now between internal and external comms,” said Kate. “So having the same message and how you’re talking about anything from a reduction in force (RIF) to C-suite changes, or even to what’s happening in the world around us.”

For a more in-depth discussion about modern PR, visit BLASTmedia’s new e-book: “SaaS PR: Demystifying Modern Public Relations.”

Millennials love connections

And we’re not talking about the New York Times’ easy-to-love/hate word game (although that may also be true). More than ever, millennials represent a critical segment of purchasing power in B2B discussions — and they crave authenticity.

Kate discussed two apt examples of authenticity moving the needle for BLAST’s B2B SaaS Tech clients.

First, she mentioned Moogsoft’s developer-first approach to positioning. Instead of relying on their C-suite executives to lecture practitioners on the viability of a product, Moogsoft worked with PANBlast to connect internal DevOps practitioners with like-minded practitioners at target companies. This approach enabled Moogsoft’s messaging to remain genuine and rooted in common frustrations.

Next, Kate discussed the efficacy of Language I/O CEO Heather Shoemaker’s media presence. Heather recently discussed her personal experiences as a female CEO in Tech with Inc. Magazine. She became extremely candid about her journey, including the ups and downs of venture capital (VC) fundraising as a woman.

“Getting personal and not just talking about product is huge. And it’s up to us (BLAST) as PR professionals to dig out what those stories are and be able to elevate the diverse voices and experiences within a company that can move the needle in those different areas, whether it be with your target buyer or prospective hires,” said Kate. “It’s important to figure out what… needs to be communicated.”

Measuring PR in 2024

It’s every PR professional and marketer’s favorite question: How do you measure the success of your PR strategy? 

Metrics are undeniably essential in 2024. Budgets are tighter and resources are lower, so executives consistently seek validation about the success of their spending in all departments. 

According to Kate, real-time insights are incredibly valuable for measuring success. For example, at BLAST, we use Propel to provide clients with analytics into PR-led leads (somewhat like sales teams and marketers would track leads through a funnel). Similarly, reactive opportunities sourced through Qwoted and other media monitoring sites are more important than ever.

But the mark of a truly successful PR campaign is a comprehensive content marketing strategy.

“Gone are the days where we just send a piece of coverage to a client and say, ‘This is the possible readership of the publication and here’s the domain authority. Do with it what you will,’” said Kate. “As PR professionals, [we now say], ‘Here’s a potential sales enablement email that you can push out to prospects. Maybe this is something that your executives can push on LinkedIn and engage with some of those ABM targets, so we’re taking part in your SEO here.’”

Listen to episode 369 for more of Kate’s insights.