Futureproofing PR: An Inside Out Perspective

PR is witnessing a paradigm shift. The role of PR has intensified especially in today’s era of inquisitive consumers who are not only evolving rapidly with the plethora of purchase options but also looking for meaningful gratification. Concurrently, the avenues for creative storytelling through dialogue platforms to share, shape and review opinions on everything possible have grown manifold. This altered landscape has paved the way for PR to play a critical role in contributing to the cultivation of relationships between brands and consumers. Media consumption is witnessing a significant shift with a digital-first approach trumping the traditional means. Consumers are increasingly exploring and experimenting with media, a plethora of online platforms and content. The growing consumer cynicism is also leading to brand reputation being more fragile. While brands tackle competitiveness on one hand and innovate to create a differentiated offering, Public Relations and Communications professionals are required to accelerate their creative thinking towards culturally-nuanced & relevant initiatives & agile planning to navigate unfamiliar challenges. Digital-first media approach has also led to a more defining set of cohorts based on interests and preferences. Social media has been critical in shaping the modern PR perspective. Today, Brands are showered with love and trust or dismissed, measured and documented in real-time. With the blurring boundaries between Public Relations, advertising and marketing communications with messaging, imagery and reputation at its core, a PR professional is expected to play a more proactive and strategic role as:

  1. The creator of a narrative or conversation
  2. The purveyor of the medium to facilitate the conversation

In the rising world of Metaverse, AI and deep fakes, will PR see a reset and evolve again?

Be it iconic brands leading the category or challenger brands, the core PR tools will be similar but what will distinguish is the simple power of what I define as ABC; A – (Adaptability, Agility & Analytical mindset); B – (Breakthrough and innovative thought process and approach; Building a relatable brand image); C – (Cultural awareness, adept at Changing the narrative, and Communicating purpose).

Few critical elements will enhance the role of Public Relations for brands and organisations:

A) Exploring the new

    1. Big Data: An analytical mining of data enables an informative new gen PR manager to rationalise the storytelling and to navigate the trends, opportunities and issues in real time. Specially to understand the actionable insights which will help leverage the growing creator economy.
    2. Artificial Intelligence (AI): The transformative impact of AI will have far-reaching implications across various facets of life, including professions in the society. 
    3. PR in the Metaverse: With NFTs and digital footprint increasing with the exploration of various forms of engagement be it music, fashion, gaming, content, and more, PR will need to reassess and step up to explore this new medium which enables a prolific experiential conversation. 

B) Recalibrate the old mix

    1. Storytelling: Creativity continues to be at the core with storytelling playing an important role. 
    2. Platform: Sources of information have now increased multifold. Hence, the choice of platform and tool for PR outreach can no more be passive and linear. It is imperative for PR professionals to explore, experiment and innovatively create outreach. 
    3. Tool: Tangible and intangible both play an important role in gaining mindshare and attention. 
    4. Influencer Marketing: The influencer space is exploding with an influx of young men and women beginning to adopt influencing as a profession. The mix and the efficiency need to be reviewed. 

The only way to futureproof is to continuously upskill and embrace change, enhance creative and analytical thinking, make informed choices, provide an immersive integrated solution to cater to the multiple organisational and brand needs. All the above, to either solve a consumer problem or to nudge the brand to get closer to the consumer in a more authentic way.

Our world just got both challenging and exciting!!

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.

Saheli Chatterjee
Saheli Chatterjee is a Senior Manager - Brand PR & Digital, Personal Care Business at ITC Limited.

She has an experience in straddled verticals and different communication industries since the beginning of her career in 2005, Saheli has been the PR strategy lead on multiple award-winning campaigns. She continues to lead and champion the integrated Brand PR niche in this new era of convergence and creator economy

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