Is it possible to predict future with accuracy? If yes, then we all would have mapped coronavirus disruption as part of our business plan in 2019. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. If we don’t know the future, then future proofing seems like an out of syllabus question.
Will robots and artificial intelligence take away most of the PR jobs? Will print medium loose its sheen? Just like Elon Musk, will there be more CXOs who decide to handle communications on their own, making the in-house PR team redundant? Though the intent is not to sound pessimistic. There are endless possibilities.
The public relations landscape is transforming at a fast pace. Two decades ago, when I graduated from a prestigious mass communication institute, we were not taught social media as these platforms did not exist in those days. Now of course, it’s an essential part of professional as well as personal life. I am highlighting this aspect from a perspective that course correction needs to take place actively in the education curriculum of institutes.
When we were just about getting a grip of digital marketing, social media marketing and content marketing as part of our job portfolio, gradually one is witnessing a new trend – Sustainability or ESG becoming a part of the communications role. As professionals, we will need to continuously reinvent ourselves.
We are living a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world wherein restructuring of organisations or teams will be a recurring process. Specialists in change management communication having in-depth knowledge of cultural sensitivity will be critical in garnering support for organisational change and creating a clear sense of purpose and belonging for all the stakeholders.
Our ecosystem will also need to evolve to be more agile with integrated marketing firms supporting communications professional in media monitoring in a dynamic manner. Be it timely tracking a TiKToK video created by an influencer which is positively or negatively impacting the brand or actively listening to the conversation that is happening around across platforms and making sense of it all to take appropriate measures.
Greater collaboration is expected to emerge with customised CRM software for personalised communication with various customers. This will not only mean targeted communication, but it will also provide an effective mechanism to understand, change and evolve communication strategies. The quantitative data generated will also act as a proof point whether the communication strategy is working effectively and how much it is contributing to the success of the business. We have come a long way from just calculating PR Value to prove that the work we do is quantifiable and is adding value to the organisation.
Given the changing media landscape, it is no easy feat for communications team of any size to track or manage massive data/information that is pouring in. Moving forward, public relations industry will be using more of big data to solve complexity of data. Big data will become critical in developing an effective communications strategy as utilising data is becoming increasingly important in PR because of its ability to improve campaign performance and generate greater customer value. There will be greater use of predictive analytics to customise story angles for journalists based on interests, past coverage, personalities, and trends and predicting the probability of a journalist covering your story. Machine learning would make labour intensive work of tracking coverage automated. Hence freeing up time of communications executive to do meaningful work. Advances in storage and analytics mean that businesses can capture, store, and assess many types of data, including anything from photos, videos, sound recordings, written text, amongst others.
Public relations is here to stay. No machine will be able to automate relationships we have with our clients, media journalists, influencers, and colleagues. If we continue to think out of the box and smartly use digital transformation in a scientific way to deliver ROI, we’re future proofing public relations.
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