The Future of Public Relations is this …

Last week I wrote about the nineteen things to watch out for in 2019 and left these nine items for further explanation. Some of these seem easily understandable and some others seem complicated. Let me explain them. And to my mind this is the Future of Public Relations.

  1. Average is out – The age of mediocrity is over. There is no scope for anything that does not strive for excellence. Be it grammar and spelling in what we write, or the way we respond to stakeholders and the turn-around time. Nothing in the future can be half-hearted or without passion. An average style of operating can only take one so far. So, average is really out. This is especially true when companies wonder why they did not win a pitch or an award or a talented professional.
  2. Build unique competencies – This applies to organisations and individuals. Unique competencies could be offering an employee engagement service for a PR firm or the ability to do search engine optimisation for a PR professional or if you work in-house in a corporate communications role learn WordPress to be able to manage websites. Generalists are great but specialists are awesome too. So, work towards that.
  3. Create value through content – Content can no longer merely be a tool that creates conversations. Content needs to go beyond that realm and be linked to profits or some sort of commercial goal. An example of this is an event that a large conglomerate puts together at their headquarters in Mumbai annually. The entire event is smartly-designed content that appeals to all the senses. And the value it creates is immense.
  4. Disrupt using data – The 2014 general election in India was the first one where a lot of disruptions took place by smart use of data. It was an election in which Public Relations won. The candidate from the challenger party used different data points in each of his speeches and went on to capture the imagination of the audience thus being elected the Prime Minister. The same principle can be applied to brands we work on.
  5. Engage meaningfully – Every connection one makes on behalf of a brand or corporate organisation will be measured by both sides. Connections evolve into engagement. Engagements that do not offer benefits to both sides will be redundant. The trick is to engage with the end in mind and not on an ad-hoc basis. Those who plan their outreach and then activate it meaningfully will be the ones that will thrive.
  6. Factor in credibility – Credibility is what brands, organisations and individuals seek. Credibility is a function of multiple layers that come together. It cannot be bought and has to be earned. Organisations need to keep this principle at the core of what they do and stand for. Credibility comes from offering a superior product that is managed by trustworthy leaders which is spoken of highly by the users. There is no way this can be faked.
  7. Go big – An often-used phrase is Go Big or Go Home. I do not subscribe to the latter. But I think the future of Public Relations is about making things larger than life in order to create salience. Whether it is the Jaipur Literature Festival or the WEF in Davos, the size does dictate its impact. Big comes at a price but over a period of time it will need to pay for itself because they will engage meaningfully and would have built adequate credibility.
  8. Have plans and review – A Public Relations professional whether working in-house or in a consultancy on clients will only be as good as his or her plans and the level at which they are executed and then evaluated. If you are a PR professional who does not know how to make a robust plan that includes budgets and timelines then you are in the wrong profession.
  9. Influence is Nothing – There is been a lot of song and dance about influencers. The original influential person is now overtaken by the person who has thousands of followers on a particular social network. That does not matter if the influencer does not wield clout or is unable to translate the influence into revenue for brands they work for. Therefore, influence without meaningful engagement or authentic credibility is nothing.
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Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Dean of the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe).

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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