Making Public Relations Future Ready

There is enough empirical and anecdotal proof available around the fact that the media has evolved. The question is – are we as PR professionals tuned to these changes?

To really fortify the future of Public Relations, the business first needs to acknowledge the gap that exists between their offerings and the clients’ expectations. The way many corporates are looking at their PR processes has changed. A holistic approach of POEMS – Paid – Owned – Earned – Media – Strategies is being adopted by more and more organisations and brands. Marketing and advertising and now influencer and boutique firms are hence eating into businesses of established PR consultancies. The larger players need to build a mindset of creative pragmatism to find solutions rather than fight the wave.

Few of the thoughts that come to my mind to make the PR business future-ready are:

Holistic media relations: 

Today, every media house has a print, TV, and digital/online team. Within each of these, there are different teams according to beats; a different team for social media, and even for video, research and infographic based content. However, a significant part of media relations is more or less limited to the traditional editorial team. Are we still stuck in the rut of traditional media?

CommTech and Automation:

We all could agree that in an average day of a PR professional there are several mundane and repetitive tasks which can be automated. However has the profession adopted automation to the level it should? This itself can free-up time for creative thought process and strategising. More so, measuring success in a non-anecdotal way is taking center stage. What is the level of CommTech that we have invested in?

Affinity for data: 

More and more brands today ask for data-driven and research-based plans and activations. PR professionals will have to start falling in love with data and ensure data analytics can be made an integral part of the decision-making process. The use of data to understand consumer behaviour and generate insights will facilitate more engaging and bidirectional conversations. We need not be data scientists, but can we decipher data and frame narratives based on insights?

Two way street: 

Vanilla PR tools are no more seen to be delivering results. Consumers have evolved from transactional relationships and prefer meaningful engagements and experience driven relationships with brands. They want to be heard. Hence the sector needs to learn how each communication can be made into an experience for the customers. The days of one way communication – or the concept of ‘spray and pray’ of press releases is gone.

Digital Savvy: 

Research demonstrates that people today touch, swipe or tap their phone over 2000 times a day! The digital world itself has undergone changes – from blogs to notifications, the real-estate and the time span for grabbing attention of consumers has become smaller and shorter. The real war today is between devices and platforms; and between moods and moments. Are we digitally agile to cater to these consumer characteristics?

Owned media platforms and metaverse: 

As brands grapple with the rationale of investing in an owned media platform or metaverse, PR firms still have the opportunity to own this space. Immersive experiences are here to stay, what is needed is a clever idea to use it for achieving communication and PR objectives.

There could be many more but these aspects require talent. Are we doing enough to build and nurture talent that can future proof the business in its renewed circumstances? Or are we blaming it on the ‘Great Resignation’ without even introspecting how we can retain talent?

Well, it’s the collective responsibility of all of us and calls for prudent actions on various fronts. Not that efforts are not being put in. However, from a client perspective all I can say is that much more needs to be done to maintain and enhance the sheen of this wonderful world of public relations.

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.

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Sujit M Patil, ABC
Sujit is a IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) accredited business communicators and a three time winner of the IABC International Gold Quill award. He has been listed as India’s top ten men in corporate communications by Reputation Today and featured on the PR Week Global Power Book, the definitive guide to PR industry’s most influential operators around the world. From 2018 to 2022, he has been listed every year on Provoke media (erstwhile Holmes Report) Influence 100 research and listing of the world’s most influential in-house marketing and communications professionals. Sujit is a part of the prestigious Arthur W Page Society..

Sujit is a qualified Instrumentation engineer with MBA in marketing and a Diploma in advertising and PR. He is a regular speaker and jury at various national and international bodies such as the World Communication Forum, Davos, AMEC, ICCO, PR Newsweek Asia, Public Affairs Asia, etc. He volunteers as a guest faculty at various B-Schools, is a weekend farmer, loves travelling, understanding cultures and experimenting with new cuisines. He is passionate about Sparrow conservation.

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