The PR industry is faced with taking an uncertain road leading to future change. However, whatever the challenges, the same core PR skills of today will still be required and relevant tomorrow.
PR is ultimately about communication and whilst the means of sending corporate messages and the content style are changing rapidly, it is the ability to connect and deliver that rules supreme. PR professionals are skilled in understanding corporate messages and now need to take that creativity and look inward as well as expand their view outward, opening up doors to welcome a new breed of integrated marketing pros.
Successful PR agencies have always led the way, going into brand enhancement battle wielding creative marketing weapons and winning words; capturing consumers with tried and tested strategies.”
In the battleground of public relations, the players are changing, the landscape has transformed and the skill armory required is becoming far more powerful. PR in the future will be a double-edged sword, valiantly leading PR warriors to conquer new opportunities, whilst slaying PR weaklings whose allegiance is too firmly entrenched in tradition.
Unless PR agencies and professionals change, the resounding war-cry in the not so distant future is loud and clear: When it comes to embracing the digital age and their changing roles in the near future, PR agencies will ‘do or die’.
The World is Changing… Are You?
Remember when people communicated by snail mail and telephone, when ads were confined to newspapers, TV and magazines, or perhaps leaflets and billboards? Today is the age of tech disruption, with online news outlets and publications, social media sites and greater digital interaction. These technology innovations are changing how consumers communicate and how marketing messages are being sent.
Integrating technology, broadening skillsets and deepening digital PR skills are essential if agencies are going to survive. They need to take their own advice and start thinking creatively outside their own box.
The PR Professional in the Future
The nature of the PR client is changing too. Decisions about marketing budgets and allocations are being redistributed to different specialists who in turn are widening their spending scope. Advertising companies, for example, are now branching out to create native advertising departments, supplying the increasing demand for content-driven marketing. If PR professionals do not restructure in order to respond to the new digital media environment, they will simply lose out to other successful PR agencies.
How PR Professionals Can Become Future-Proof
Be Realistic and Not Simply PR positive
According to the World PR Report 2015, global optimism levels are still fairly high, with an average of 7.62 out of a scale of 1-10 in terms of agency principals feeling optimistic about the future of public relations in the market. Of course, PR experts are adept at putting a positive spin on every situation, after all that is what they do best. Many agencies, big and small, still have their fingers in their ears, refusing to hear the oncoming train of digital thought.
Integrate Tech Developments
Sometimes it can be easier to start from scratch than adapt. The temptation for traditionalists is to simply build emerging developments onto an old model and PR structure. Much like a brand new extension on an old building, not only can it look incongruous but functionally it does not always work.
This bolt-on approach can create an unwieldy Frankenstein that stumbles clumsily onwards at a slow pace.
Technology needs to be woven throughout campaigns, creating integrated marketing strategies. The PESO model is a convergence of Paid Media, Earned Media, Shared Media and Owned Media. By embracing PESO PR professionals can build on a framework that is designed with the future in mind. The idea is to connect multi-channel marketing through digital and traditional means, with a multitude of message styles and formats; the resulting impact of integrated marketing campaigns becoming bigger than the sum of their parts.
The World PR Report 2015 reveals that nearly 40% of Successful PR agencies principals believe that social media community management skills will be relevant for PR executives over the next decade. Nearly 39% consider multimedia content creation relevant, whilst similar figures were reported for creativity as well as insight and planning.”
Certainly, big data use and Web analytics need to be increasingly utilized to drive relevant content and create business-savvy campaigns with measurable results.
Expand Talent Base
Commitment to change means having the tools ready to leverage success, and in PR this means talent that goes beyond marketing word wizardry. Traditional PR professionals are not generally digital experts and are not at the cutting edge of online mediums. One solution is to invest in training and another is to bring other talents into PR’s inner circle; IT specialists, digital advertising experts, programmers and coders, online marketing professionals.
Clever PR messages delivered traditionally have always been either well-received or not by consumers. Today, PR has to accommodate and understand the role of interactive marketing. Part of this involves appreciating that individuals are now looking for authenticity rather than detached marketing spiel; building narratives into corporate messages which end-users can relate to and want to respond to is changing the creative process of PR professionals.
Individuals are bombarded with content continuously via many different platforms. This pushes the need for PR to really lock into a consumer psyche and reach out in a more meaningful way. Viral campaigns are examples of the power of online end-users and how good marketing really does sell itself for successful PR agencies.”