There have been many discussions over the years on the future of public relations. But, in the current times that we are all in the narrative is quite different from what it has been in the past. I look for SIGNALs in my observations, conversations and reading between the lines. I found these six and I am sure many of these will start to unravel in the months and years ahead.
Share happiness – this is not merely a slogan but a genuine call of hope. Brands, brand custodians and brand communicators will be called upon to share happiness because when the customer is happy they begin to develop trust. So an easy way to plan programmes and campaigns will be by asking the simple question around what will make employees and customers happy. Researching answers to this simple question will provide clues and ideas on trust building. There will not be scope for sensationalising and fake news in a world built on trust.
Invest in research – the PR professionals who will succeed in the future are those who eat, sleep and breathe research in every way. Mainly in measuring and analysing. Measurement is linked to each campaign and analytics is about breaking down each aspect of the campaign especially the digital elements. Deep research in understanding the end customer as well as the media outlets and those who work there will be an important factor. What will differentiate the haves and the have nots will be research. There are ample tools to conduct this.
Go digital to the max – this is especially linked to robust content, an understanding of applying SEO techniques and creating engaging video content. These three will be the pillars of a great digital strategy. It is not late to learn all these three. Content has to be authentic and sharp. Silly concepts will not cut ice. Videos need to be powerful in the way they convey the key message and SEO will be a gamechanger. These will not have specialists doing it for you. You will need to specialise in one or all of these.
Network smart – I may write an entire column on the importance of the personal website in future. For now I will confidently say that gone are the days of hanging out at events and exchanging cards. While events may come back, cards will disappear. LinkedIn and Twitter are important tools. But the professionals of the future will be those who build personal websites that highlight writing samples to convey thought process and styles, a photo or video and the bio or CV of the professional. Jobs will come to those who invest in this more easily.
Always on – This is about mindfulness and common sense. Public Relations in many cases is built on the powerful use of common sense. This is about being alert, spotting a trend and riding it. Those who are not looking for clues or able to hit the ground running will miss out. It is not going to be about who you know but what you know and how in depth. And then the ability to act on it for the benefit of the brand. The bottomline is whether your ability to apply common sense led to more sales and better business targets were achieved.
Let PR be more than just media relations – Public Relations was always about multiple streams. 12 of these on last count. But somewhere over the years some of us began to equate PR with media relations. That did more harm than good. It is time to go back to basics and understand that PR is about Content marketing, crisis management, counsel on reputation, connect to stakeholders, communication strategy, reputation research, media relation, community outreach, government affairs, ethical behaviour, sharp storytelling and common sense.
These are some of the SIGNALs for the future. If we can process them and work on equipping ourselves to fully imbibe them we can be assured of securing a better future for ourselves as professionals and thereby making the profession fool-proof as well. Well, what are the signals you would like to add here?
– Amith Prabhu