We were recently invited to contribute to an article on the future of PR, the industry all our Fireworkers are passionate about and one that still excites us after all these years in the job. It was an opportunity for us to reflect on how far we’ve come as a profession, and consider how the landscape may change for us all in the coming years. So, what did we talk about?
Data-driven, targeted and highly personalised
Already at the heart of story-telling, we believe PR will walk firmly into the centre of sales operations – why? Because people don’t want to be ‘sold to’ anymore, they want to be engaged.
This view of PR as a means of story-telling has been gaining momentum and precedence in recent years, as canny consumers and savvy business people want to be convinced by engaging and relevant ‘stories’ that resonate.
PR will transform the way organisations sell, with sales and marketing merging into data-driven communications delivered by PR. PR will become even more tailored to provide relevant twists of the same story to resonate with targeted individuals – these being the people that their client or – if in-house – their organisation wants to engage with more closely and ultimately, persuade to act – be it purchasing, donating or supporting.
Day-to-day PR will become acutely targeted – compelling content will remain key but each piece will be personalised to the needs of the particular journalist, industry body or blogger.
The ‘pincer-grip’ comms journey is already underway, placing PR at an incredibly strategic place in savvy organisations who are brave enough to challenge the norm.
Harnessing the power of social listening and digital storytelling
Once deemed as a ‘nice-to-have’, output on social channels is becoming a prerequisite for effective engagement. Simply firing out a press release to hordes of journalists has never been good enough but it’s simply not acceptable these days; consumers consume in so many different ways, that it’s become a critical job of a PR professional to identify and target as many potential touchpoints as possible, in the right way.
These days, it’s less about the number of likes you can get, and more about the number of valuable interactions you can stimulate, allowing you to illustrate the business’ personality in the online world, while building vital relationships with new audiences looking for instant gratification.
It’s clear that digital’s dynamic environment, from social listening to storytelling, can offer a more immediate platform for communicating and engaging with audiences. It is arguably one of the profession’s most important trends that could impact the future of our industry.
The future will not only see social comms form a more significant part of an organisation’s strategy, it will see the digital audience become a participant in spreading the word via shareable engagement and content.
A strategic presence in the boardroom
We’re no longer the ones who simply ‘f*nny around with press releases’, far from it; as a profession, we’ve earned our place in the boardroom, with our ability to think strategically, build solid relationships with stakeholders, both internal and external, and create value add content that supports the marketing teams as well as the media we want to influence.
Our role is to turn a business objective into an opportunity to tell a story in a way that our audiences want to digest it. Only by cementing our position as a senior advisor, rather than facilitator, can we be sure of success.
Increasingly, PR professionals will find themselves advising CEOs on overall business strategy, while building vital relationships with a whole host of influencers in order to help deliver the business’ ambitions.
As we continue to ride the wave of this digital revolution, it’s become quite clear the important and evolving role PR plays in every successful business. We’re certainly excited about what the future holds for our beloved industry, as well as the new skills we are perfecting every day in response to it.
Our future is social, it’s engagement, it’s viral and it’s influential – when combined with overall business objectives, it’s also powerful. And there’s nowhere else us Fireworkers would want to be!
"Increasingly, PR professionals will find themselves advising CEOs on overall business strategy, while building vital relationships with influencers in order to help deliver the business' ambitions"
Andrea Hounsham, Director
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