Future Proofing PR

Never has there been an opportune time than now when Albert Einstein’s words resonate in all that we do – “I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.” True enough, I’d say for those of us in this profession – we can collectively agree that there are events of a yesterday that may feel like they happened an eon ago and tomorrow comes even before today has ended. There is no denying that we are operating in a fast-paced environment where the turnaround times are sometimes within the blink of an eye. So, while we are so busy doing what we do best… are we missing out on what more we should do?  

This is not the end game

Over the past two and half years, the world has endured three inter-connected crises – the global pandemic, economic downturn and now the Ukraine-Russian conflict. Businesses must sustain the momentum but also prepare for the next growth opportunity when such geo-political, environmental, and societal factors are at play. That makes it equally demanding on communications professionals to safeguard the company’s reputation today as well as strategise for a bullet-proof tomorrow that may come with its own set of challenges. 

This pandemic has taught us lifelong lessons. PR and Comms teams across all industries have had to adapt, evolve and pivot to manage their stakeholder expectations. The traditional role of PR has transformed, its reach is extending, and we are taking on more responsibilities than ever. The emphasis is on value creation, being relevant to meet the demands of the new-age workplace ethos and most importantly, being resilient to crisis. The trick is to plan and prepare.

A seat at the table

At such times of shifting priorities and global uncertainty, organisations are also facing issues by populist campaigns that go beyond the business cause at hand. Besides, in this era of highly digitised social behaviors, stakeholders have also become activists in their own right. Gone are the days when working in silos helped us tide through any crisis-like situation, that scenario planning and adhering to response timelines was all that was needed to save the day. The time is ripe and right to expand our horizons to the larger organisation construct, to be able to connect all parts of the puzzle to see the big picture and tell the story. Let’s have that seat at the table to develop an integrated approach to the overall comms strategy to balance the narrative – that is the need of the hour to communicate effectively and convincingly with internal and external stakeholders. 

Tell a story the smart way

We must also harness newer capabilities as we take steps into the future.  Beyond the once-upon-a-time, traditional skillsets of comms professionals (primarily writing, inter-personal skills, media relations, etc.) PR folks are now expected to be storytellers – conversational and interesting in the way they engage with their target audiences across a variety of platforms. Being digitally savvy and into the mass consciousness of the virtual space is as important as understanding the pros and cons of social media perils. Do not hesitate to try out different approaches that are required to build the community, to establish trust for the brand. A campaign today can include a variety of earned, owned, paid and shared media so it is important to have an understanding of content design and management, visualisation skills, video production, etc. to tell the story. 

Stay true, find your voice 

Another paradigm shift that we have witnessed is the growth of fake news and misinformation on social media platforms. Fear has overtaken facts, leading to misinformed public that can be damaging to both the society and the environment we operate in. We are experiencing an ‘infodemic’ that may impact organisational reputation, so let’s have a credible voice relying on authentic sources of data and information.

Needless to say, public relations is rooted in the company’s cultural and work ethos. It is here to stay…in fact, it is more important now than ever. Trust being the buzz word; fueled by data that will drive content and engagement. Simply put, let’s make sure we are future proofing it through a simple amalgamation of our core skills, leveraging the power of digital technology and everyday common sense. 

Perhaps we have already done so, Mr. Einstein – the future of PR is already here.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

This article was first published in the PRAXIS 2022 special edition print magazine of Reputation Today.

Roma Nair
Roma Nair is a senior comms professional with over 20 years of experience leading content creation and corporate communication functions across diverse industries. Having started her career as a journalist and then content creator, she gradually moved into corporate communications roles that involves reputation management through media relations, marketing & business communications and stakeholder engagement.
She is presently working with Pfizer as part of the global corporate affairs team and leads media management and communications for developed and emerging economies across Asia Pacific, including China, Japan and Australia. Roma is also experienced in change and crisis management, creating digital content including video stories, mounting large scale events and managing executive leadership visits and their communication. She has studied and majored in Biochemistry for her graduate degree, and also holds her Masters in Mass Media and Journalism and an Executive Program in Business Management.

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