Given the exponential expansion of interconnectivity and mobility that is defining and reshaping Filipino consumers, public relations (PR) professionals are always in a dilemma on how to meet the demand of realities and of clients and corporate hierarchy.
Various differences, sometimes etched in corporate DNAs, abound, especially on how PR can help achieve business objectives.
Some Jurassic managers insist that PR concentrates on simply generating trust—working in silos to the dismay of many.
Others insist on PR as just being publicity or as others call press agentry, failing to understand that there is more to PR than press relations and seeding.
Unfortunately, the demands of business today cannot afford myopia and require PR professionals to adapt.
In today’s business environment, PR professionals should realize that their existence and success are dependent on how they master the following “new normal”:
PR professionals should mold themselves as partners working on an integrated communications strategy. By working together to communicate brand messages and personalities, comms, PRs, ad people and marketers have a unique opportunity to take a bigger seat at an organization’s leadership table.
Build an integrated PR campaign with social and paid media teams by sharing the most interesting or most relevant earned media coverage, so they can post it across owned and paid channels. By doing so, the PR professionals provide additional credible content and amplify the earned media pieces that help increase brand recognition with a wider audience.
Another way PR pros can achieve integration is through SEO and organic site and search traffic. It has become imperative for PRs to understand how SEO works and what they can do to contribute to backlinks and other SEO-friendly tactics to support the marketing team. Earned media can boost credibility with search engines as well as the people who read those articles.
At the end of the day, PR professionals need to embrace the PESO model—Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Media—for clients. Thus, PR should be more confident with numbers, data, software which can collectively show ROI—the currency in client and management satisfaction.
PR as a creative data scientist
PR professionals need to become data scientists to truly understand how target audiences live, work and consume. Analytics now more than ever plays a huge role in PR. Any PR professional who does not embrace the power of data is at a major disadvantage.
As PR’s work becomes increasingly integrated (with digital becoming more emphasized), PR professionals should be able to measure every step of the communications process—from output to outcomes.
Using real-time data, including insights gained from that data, PRs should understand how messages are received and by whom, so he or she can adjust the message and channels to optimize impact. Fortunately, there is good access to comprehensive online, print, broadcast and social media monitoring and analysis. There are intelligent media contacts databases and tools to manage relationships and outreach. Also, there are real-time alerts and notifications that tell/show of what is happening.
Given the obtainable data and the accompanying technology, what with their abilities to track views, engagement, clicks, downloads, etc., PR teams are now able to prove their campaigns’ impact.
We know more about the demographic, psychographic, behavioral characteristics of audiences and consumers than ever before.
Be careful, however, that we are not bogged down by too much data crunching.
Instead, PR practitioners must combine data with creativity, an approach that has long underpinned PR campaigns, to predict trends, identify new audiences and ensure programs are engaging and interesting to end-users.
The influencer is now a PR tool you can’t ignore
The influencer has moved from a fad to a mainstream trend that PR professionals and brands are embracing. The key tactic is more about finding the right influencer to get your story out rather than the best medium. Influencers are already talking to your customers given perceived high credibility and trust. The term “influencer” has become a hot trend in Google Trends—it is even considered a “breakout” i.e., the term’s growth compared to previous period exceeds 5,000 percent.
Since 2015, the use of influencers in campaigns has been explosive as marketers, PRs, brands and organizations have recognized the value of influencers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to provide impact and influence at scale. Most of the pitches these days always have influencer budgets, bringing to fore celebrities and internet personalities amplifying brand messages in their respective social media outlets.
PR and content marketing are inseparable
The incessant demand for authenticity through storytelling has single-handedly trumped the self-absorbed PR of the past. While the main job continues to be the promotion of the brand, PR professionals are fast realizing that their job also involves bringing down trust barriers—opening up walls that give consumers/audiences a chance to connect with the brand.
PR professionals are waking up to the reality that they have to deliver value, too, to their stakeholders.
These are why we will continue to see PR professionals aligning with the virtues of content marketing. Content marketing has always been about using content to educate, engage, and deliver value to your audience.
As that becomes a greater priority for PR, the two have now been inseparable.
Controlling the narrative is essential to PR, thus those who invest in social listening will be rewarded.
Responding in real time to concerns or negative reviews is crucial to a brand’s general well-being and upkeep.
With the right tools and strategy, social listening can be highly effective in controlling a PR crisis or addressing customer concerns.
Personal branding will remain a PR priority
Executive profiling should be part of every PR professionals’ war chest.
In the age where perception is becoming reality, our audience’s perception of our organization and the people leading it should be front and center.
Thus, the way PRs brand and frame company leaders and employees plays a big role in the way stakeholders connect with and trust our brand.
Thus, thought leadership and personal branding have become important functions of modern PR teams.
Demands for more ethical practices will increase
Given the continued decline in trust in organizations, media, and the proliferation of fake, half-truths, propaganda, misinformation and disinformation, the pressure for a highly ethical PR practice has become imperative.