In an accelerated digital age, consumers are given the freedom and tools to share their opinions widely and easily. Add on the global agendas to combat climate change, challenging social and political issues, plus a pandemic — we can agree that we’re riding a huge wave of change. As communicators, it’s never been more important to be deeply entrenched in our clients’ brands and extend our positions from being the connector between the media and our clients, to being fierce brand guardians with strong commercial acumen.
Market prediction and being industry experts are crucial for public relations practitioners to become proactive drivers of change. In this article, we unpack big changes that have been shaking up the industry and present the top 5 trends that PR professionals need to adapt to to remain relevant and competitive.
Sharp, measurable results beyond ‘PR value’
A decades-old point of contention in the PR industry has been how PR success is measured. Through the years, agencies have worked out various mathematical formulas to place a commercial value on earned media, often defined as ‘PR value’. But as the world becomes more sophisticated, how do smaller businesses — who may not necessarily invest in proprietary technology — measure consumer sentiment and outcome? This is where, we believe, developing tailored deliverables that are tied to commercial success is key. Whether a campaign drives an increase in room nights over the same period, or driving page visits from a specific piece of content, PR teams need to put on their mettle and demonstrate the power of great storytelling.
Well-researched, socially-aware campaigns
In this era, consumers are not simply demanding quality products but are actively sourcing purchases that align with their personal values and commitments. With more people putting conscious consumption into practice, highlighting your clients’ ethos and commitment to social responsibility will play a big role in reaching your target audience. As consumers are constantly being exposed to advertisements and products pitching for their attention, providing meaningful creative content will ensure better reception. Finding platforms and social media channels that will give brand leaders an opportunity to voice their views can allow consumers to connect with the brand on a greater level by understanding the heart and mind behind it.
Selecting relevant and socially responsible KOLs
How long has it been since a Kardashian-endorsed product generated sky high sales? Besides, a celebrity level budget being out of reach for many brands, finding KOLs that demonstrate authenticity is becoming a rarity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as when brands do manage to find the right one(s) to collaborate with, it could go a long way in generating brand love. PR agencies should be aware of potential KOLs on multiple levels – micro, macro, and nano – as well as what this means in multiple markets and social media platforms, as well as the average engagement levels of influencers. Be an avid user of social media, so that you can keep an eye out for upcoming talent which could allow you to foster important relationships early on.
Rethinking events and consumer activations
In most countries, the road to opening up after the pandemic has been slow which means the possibility of holding large scale consumer activations or events in the near future are slim. While this has definitely thrown a cog into the usual running of public relations, it has also been an opportunity for agencies to get creative and even increase their reach and effectiveness in these unprecedented times. Because of this, online and hybrid activities have become more commonplace. And while we’re all eager to see life go back to normal, it is entirely possible that many of these new changes are here to stay even after the pandemic. Therefore, PR agencies should not view this time as a temporary waiting period before returning to traditional consumer activations and events is possible. Rather, effectively experimenting with new strategies and identifying which ones will remain relevant post-COVID will set PR agencies on track to adapt to the long term changes we will see in consumers and their behaviours.
Debunking the traditional definition of PR and deep diving into digital
In an age of algorithms and data-driven marketing, a key question to ask is where PR fits in the consumer journey given these new adaptations. Consistently serving to help clients build relationships and highlight noteworthy aspects of their brand, we believe the PR role remains of high value and acts as the strongest brand guardian in a time of constant change. As PR agencies and in-house teams work more cross-functionally than ever, it provides an opportunity to connect multiple marketing functions to drive better search, earned, and shared results and build a great reputation. In fact, a data-saturated world benefits PR teams tremendously if they are able to capitalise upon it by generating relevant and meaningful content which will translate to better content that drives conversion.
Barely a month ago, the world was rocked by the death of George Floyd – yet another Black life unfairly taken, and one that proved to be the breaking point and wakeup call not just for the USA, but the world. Globally, protests continue for racial justice and police reform; with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement to fight systemic racism.
Education or re-education, learning and un-learning, are the first steps in understanding the individual’s place in the system. Then only can the movement be purposefully pushed forward in the hopes of creating lasting change. Here are some of the resources the team has found useful in our own journeys over the past four weeks, as we stand together to support true equality.
Layla Saad is a globally respected writer, speaker and podcast host on the topics of race, identity, leadership, personal transformation and social change. Meaningful and relevant, her book, entitled Me and White Supremacy, is a 28-day guide focusing on combatting racism by helping readers identify and dismantle white supremacy and biases within themselves.
A bold read for anyone who wants a deep dive into the truth of systemic racism in the United States is this book by Ijeoma Oluo. A New York Time Bestseller, So You Want To Talk About Race is a contemporary take on America’s racial landscape and the complexities of issues faced by African- Americans.
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic, Between the World and Me is a riveting analysis into racism in the United States. The book takes you through a historical journey through real events in American history as experienced by the African-American community.
Directed by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, 13th is a thought-provoking documentary that takes a deep long look into the history of United States’ prison system – revealing racial inequality, prejudice, and the disproportionate number of African-Americans who have been incarcerated. Available on Netflix, this powerful film tells an important story to all who will watch and listen.
Based on James Baldwin’s uncompleted manuscript, I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary explored through the notes and letters of Baldwin in the 1970s. The memoir touches on racism in the United States as well as the deaths of Baldwin’s close friends and civil rights leaders, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evans.
Based on the events of a true story, When They See Us is a web television miniseries that premiered in 2019. The series tells the story of the wrongful conviction of five African-American teenagers, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Raymond Santana, after a jogger was brutally attacked in Central Park in 1989.
Hosted by journalists of colour, this podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. The fearless conversations explore how race impacts every part of society – from politics, pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.
Slay in Your Lane: The Podcast comes from multi-award-winning authors Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, who rose to prominence with their pioneering guide to life for young Black Women. The podcast explores topical news and popular culture from a Black British female perspective while expanding upon many of the same themes addressed in the book.
This podcast digs into stories that are not always shared out in the open. Hosts Leila Day and Hana Baba start conversations about what it means to be black and how we talk about blackness. It’s a celebration of black joy with a mission to dig deeper into stories that we don’t hear enough about.
Foreseeable is a podcast by Global-is-Asian, the flagship digital platform of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Each episode addresses a different social or cultural issue in Singapore, with local and international experts sharing their thoughts, opinions and predictions. Tune in to their episode on racial integration in Singapore, particularly poignant in the current international climate.
Step inside the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times. They devour TV, movies, art, music and the internet to find the things that move them – to tears, awe and anger. Episodes like “Being Black in the Age of Wokeness” and “Still Processing: Being Biracial” are not to be missed.
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