Let’s be communications consultants rather than vying to be astrologers

As soon as one hears futureproofing Public Relations, a word cloud of digital-first, the next big consumer-loved platform, and a complete Metaverse world forms in one’s mind.  And questions on who can predict the upcoming trend or create one that looms large, begin to surface. Even though the popular notion is that being ahead of the trends and knowing just the right way to operate newest technology is the ultimate way of futureproofing Public Relations, I beg to differ. 

No amount of running behind new platforms and trying to predict the future is going to be futureproofing our profession and the value we generate. Might just make us wannabe astrologers, that’s about it.  

There’s always going to be a new Instagram and a new Snapchat and Quartz and things to learn about their features and algorithms. It’s like a hamster running in its cage. Seems fun and productive. Pointless though.

Futureproofing public relations is truly possible through a futureproofing of mindsets. Building mindsets that can take on any new wave, and sustain value while helping shift paradigms of our work beyond its traditional definitions through bold steps toward the future. A change in the way we, PR professionals, view the value we create and the impact it generates. The conviction and belief in this value and then finding routes toward it. 

Thinking Value Creation not Tools

Lately, we’ve been caught up in the Apps and Lives and which one is the newest trend. Just working towards garnering highest new trends and platforms does not really further business or communication goals unless the required target audience is present and frequenting the platform. Say one of your client’s goals is communicating to the elderly, no amount of new tech will help, the route for them perhaps would be regional newspapers and radio stations. 

It is imperative to not lose sight of the end goal and work towards meeting that even if in a minuscule manner, rather than creating a lot of noise through technology or social media. Means are not innovative or even required solutions, it’s the right communication to the right audience at the right time. 

Showcase ROI (Return on Investment) in Creative Ways 

Return on investment has been the hallmark of all investments across business functions, and with the increase in paid collaborations and partnerships, increasingly PR is being questioned on the ROI it brings. It is important to not shy away from this conversation, but in fact, initiate it while discussing the ideas and value of our work. However, it is time to bring in more insights alongside our dear friend – the AVE. Today, digital tools help us showcase impressions, real-time readership, and even the number of clicks and purchases. Beyond these tools too, we need to continue making a case for the abstract and for the value we bring outside numerical calculations to the reputation and showcase how it helps the brand stand tall. 

Storytelling remains at the heart of everything we do

We tell stories, about people, experiences, companies and their goals and visions, brands and what they stand for and many many more. And when we lose sight of the heart of these stories, the reason why we narrate them, we negotiate with our worth and pit ourselves for failure. What we are saying, how we are presenting the narrative, is always more important than how fast, how trendy it looks. The bare basics of – what is your story – holds its sanctity in PR and always will. 

Consumer Behaviour rather Stakeholders’ Interests and Behaviour 

When we know what the story is, have all the relevant facts, the next step is knowing who the target audiences are, and therefore finding the right routes to reach them. For a pop-culture brand, a Mashable interaction for the leadership would be more fruitful than a business channel interview, even if the viewership is seemingless less, the impact is higher. Understanding stakeholders, what is capturing their interest, and what are they seeking is key. As such, in this understanding, it is important to focus on their needs and therefore, behavior as a result of that, rather than just the tools they frequent. The Apps are the last piece of the puzzle, their why is the most salient one. 

For God’s Sake Move Beyond Coverage

It is saddening to see so many of our fraternity still limit work to a number of clips as opposed to the value generated from our overall work. A Mint story would perhaps meet the end goal and not need quantities of aggregators for us to showcase value on an announcement. Sometimes, a LinkedIn live chat or a podcast helps in the stronger delivery of key messages rather than garnering a large number of clips across publications. Yet, we come across beliefs that say stop wasting energy on this and show me the clips, for we will be judged on PR first(where PR is considered only coverage). 

Keep Up with the Sign of the Times

Agility to move through the fast-paced, ever-changing VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world will come in handy definitely, as new tools come ahead everyday and some become relevant each day too. 

To be truly futureproof, we need to strengthen our roots and stay grounded in them. Our core value addition, the art and craft of storytelling, the ability to decipher client and consumer interests and goals, and meet them through communications, while getting rid of some of our own limiting beliefs and practices is how we can march towards long-lasting success. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget dancing in the rain a little and swaying to the sunshine a bit on the way. 

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

Prakruti Patil
After completing a PGDM in PR and Corporate Communications from XIC, Prakruti has worked for over 4 years in PR across corporate and consumer mandates. Interested in content and campaigns, she has led experiences and projects for brands like CREDAI, Awfis, Bacardi (entire portfolio) and supported mandates for Mondelez, Mirchi and more. In her free time, she's found juggling 2-3 books, colouring a Mandala or exploring the city with her friends.

1 Comment on "Let’s be communications consultants rather than vying to be astrologers"

  1. A very relevant article, specially the storytelling part!!!

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