Digital Media & the Future of PR
As the saying goes ‘change is the only thing constant’, as communication professionals we have to prove our mettle every day.
The Media & Communication industry in the last few years has been blazing a new trial with a whole new culture of reportage & reactions. A cult that is being largely led by the public or the ‘Social Press’ so as to be politically correct has grown on to take the better of the ‘Editorial Press’. And as this new tribe of unstoppable opinion ‘makers & breakers’ drive the whole agenda of creating new perceptions and realities, the editorial press is fast conditioning itself to this new cult of no holds barred communication.
A radical change in media consumption has also forced the mass media to reorient their strategies ex: HT shutting down the business bureau to ramp-up presence online, many newspapers have moved their key sections for better online visibility. And this further adds on to the clutter with brands frantically vying for a fair share of eyeballs through these leading news portals. And this is where PR will grab the gauntlet of Online Reputation Management with a well-calibrated communication approach that finds resonance with the right audience at the right time. And, ‘Precision Targeting’ will be the order of the new age communication strategy.
For a quick flashback, a couple of years ago PROs followed a rote way of working as they would scurry for a press coverage irrespective of the news value in the material only to finally get the editor’s cold shoulder. Until now PR has only played a good cop with clients but now they have to strike a balance being a bad cop as well, in other words ‘be cruel to be kind’ which means setting the right expectations while conditioning them to the new format of news making that would only translate to a more meaningful media mileage. This can be achieved only by constantly educating them about the ground realities.
Today, PR is no longer about making news through the staple old press releases but influencing your target group to make the statement for you. News making culture today is solely not about what you want to say but to also ensure striking the right chord with the news readers. With so much freewheeling chatter and clutter across the owned media space, there needs to be a social media policy in place, which the new age PRO will have to put in place.
In the recent backdrop, the role of a PRO could be compared to that of a Phoenix that rose from the ashes to live through another cycle. The new cycle will see the PROs function in a different environment shouldering new & heavy-duty responsibilities of Reputation and Perception Management that would no longer use the same brush to colour the world around. ‘Different strokes for different folks’ will be the new work ethic and the holy grail of the new age PR lobbying.
As it may sound like a broken record, digital media has become the melting pot of different communication cultures. The influence of which has been extremely profound in building a bold, free-spirited & a well connected virtual society. As this spectrum of new media makes fiery inroads into the mainstream, traditionalists are left to rethink their modus operandi. And this is where PR has to look beyond the obvious while ‘telling great stories from behind-the-scenes (‘BRANDS’)’.
Today, as lines are blurring between PR and other Communication functions, a new method to the madness that is both fittingly disruptive & well-timed is what will keep the traction going. Hence, the new age PR pro would power up as a logical advisor, an influencer and a moderator to keep the brands afloat from getting muddled up in the farrago by making technology work in their favour more than working for the technology.
Most of the competition in industries today don’t come from companies but majorly from the clutter and this is something to be solely tackled with a smart ‘know-what & a know-why’ strategy. Which means if you have a good hold of ‘What to do & Why to do’ then ‘how to do’ is going to be much more straight-forward. Therefore, the new skill sets call for a smart usage of tech while un-learning old skill sets to keep the process alive and real. However, at the epicentre of them all would be creation of path-breaking ‘Content’ to field this new game.
As all the professionals would concede, in the world of communication there is only ‘Now’ and no ‘Tomorrow’. Gone are the days when PR could get away with being Jack of all trades but master of none, but now A PRO has to toggle being both.
And even before PR folks could brace themselves up to tame the digital dragon, Mobile is already setting off tremors. However, for the uninitiated, digital is where all the action is. ‘Do or die’…..Just a note of caution.