Integrating Technology to future proof PR

I believe the PR business has been evolving and we have been futureproofing ourselves over the years. From ‘Publicity’ to Public Relations to Chief Communications Officer, we have come a long way and continue to reinvent ourselves. And as I read somewhere – “Content, and the way it is consumed, is the catalyst for futureproofing PR.”

I couldn’t agree more with this. Last few years have accelerated digital adoption and content has become the centerpiece for the success of any platform. So, if PR can innovate and continue to drive an efficient content strategy for their organisations, we have won half the battle. However, this is not easy as content does not only mean content for media releases or editorials or employee communication messages but has changed to include social media posts for organisations and leaders, scripts for OTT/ videos etc. The trick is to use a mix that works for your message delivery. The appetite for long articles, that my generation loved, is now limited. How can you package your news/ key messages in easy to consume, snackable content with visuals is the present and the future. In the digital world, getting maximum leverage through choosing the right “keywords” are essential to improve SEOs, and website traffic and improve the overall brand identity of any corporate or individual.

With the digital wave, the PR business today requires up-skilling and devising innovative strategies to meet the changing market environment. Some of the skills I believe we need to continue to invest, besides content creation include:

Metrics: As we all know, what cannot be measured cannot be rewarded. With consumer behavior constantly changing and the budget getting tighter, the pressure on PR will keep mounting for metrics. We have come a long way in measuring performance through the delivery of messages, perception audits and tracking sales through influencer engagement. However, for the C-suite to invest in the PR department, the business must show more stringent measurement metrics (RoI) that support bottom-line achievements. As we move from the digital revolution to finally entering Metaverse, a minimum benchmark would help the PR business to keep a check on wins and accomplishments.

Data analytics: AI, ML have become buzzwords and SaaS platforms have made life simpler for most verticals. So why not PR? There have been some conversations here and as an industry, we need to invest in technology/ tech platforms that will give us more relevant analytics to execute better or measure RoI more efficiently. I have reviewed quite a few platforms but yet to come across a cohesive and comprehensive one.
Relationships: This is one of the most important aspects of Public Relations. Analytics, measurements, and content aside, we need to continue enhancing and investing in our engagement skills. A partnership based on trust and mutual respect must be formed for long standing relationships. To collaborate with journalists, one must build those relationships – this comes through years of experience and consistent efforts. Also, in the age of influencer marketing, it is essential to engage with connoisseurs of certain sectors to leverage maximum gain on social media and other video and audio format channels (podcasts, webinars, YouTube).

Role enhancement – A public relations person shapes and builds the organisation’s public perception by building a brand, delivering key messages, and minimising the impact of any negative publicity. The role of any PR professional is multi-fold; from managing clients to creating content and media outreach, I find that communication leads are typically jack of all trades. Swinging my way from marketing to CSR and public affairs, I believe I have successfully handled these portfolios at different stages per organisation requirements.

Public Relations is evolving and will continue to do so. With the digital revolution outpacing traditional communications, digital PR coupled with online brand strategies has opened multiple avenues for owned, earned, and paid content. It is no longer vis-a-viz, but all three need to be a part of our reputation management strategy and be deployed as per campaign requirements. Furthermore, the “Metaverse” inculcation is expected to change how the PR business has functioned, dramatically. Many brands have already set up their virtual brand stores and products in the Metaverse market. Keeping the audience engaged in the mirror world (Metaverse) will be a significant challenge. The industry must adopt an integrated-communications approach, including earned, owned, and paid media channels in their metaverse marketing mix. From storytelling to audience engagement and maintaining a virtual reputation, it will be interesting to see how PR re-invents and tailors its strategies to match up with the never-ending technological advancements, making them future-proof.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.
These articles were published in the PRAXIS 2022 special edition print magazine of Reputation Today.

Pooja Garg Khan
Strategic Communications Consultant
Communications specialist with close to 20 years of experience in Public Relations, CSR, Employee Engagement and Government Relations. During the course of my career I have worked across sectors like BFSI, FMCG, IT and Lifestyle. Views expressed in the article are based on personal and impersonal experiences.

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