Google Trends may be one of my new favorite tools. Not only is interesting to see fluctuations in hot topics of the day or things you’re interested in, but it’s great for PR campaign measurement too. Something public relations professionals constantly struggle with is showing ROI on media campaigns, which are often more tangential in nature. But, thanks to tools like Google Analytics, which can (hopefully) show traffic spikes on clients’ websites after major announcements or media pushes, and, now also Google Trends, the task of demonstrating ROI is becoming a bit easier.

But, it’s not only useful for client campaign measurement, it’s also useful to track what’s going on in the PR industry. So, I typed in a few key terms that are important for PR and the results were quite interesting, though much of what you may expect:

Google Trends PR Graph

As you can see from the screen-captured chart above, over the past nine years, there has been a steady increase in both SEO and social media while the press release has declined. It’s important to note that these trends are only showing Google search popularity – so, the frequency of which people have typed in those three terms over time.

For social media, it’s interesting that the real uptick in searches didn’t gain ground until around 2009 when you consider Twitter was born nearly three years earlier. But, for SEO, people have long since been trying to optimize the content of their webpages and the steady stream of SEO searches is still outstripping social media.

A few interesting points in time that may have contributed to these increasing trends include when Google AdWords introduced its duplicate content filter, the 2008 milestone when Facebook hit 100 million users, then in 2010 when  Twitter reached 65 million tweets a day, when Facebook reached 1 billion active users in 2012, and just recently as LinkedIn hit 200 million members… just to name a few!

In terms of the declining searches for press releases, it’s no secret that the traditional press release has fallen out of favor with many companies and journalists alike. Today, used more for SEO and record-keeping, the press release is no where near as important as the content it contains – which is easily summarized on social media sites! And, as 84 percent frequently or exclusively use social media tools for news and information – not press releases – this trend is sure to only continue as time goes on.

What do you think has impacted these trends over time? Will we continue to see growth and declines in these areas or will new trends surpass these three PR areas altogether?

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