Oh, my cheese is moving dynamically; those who have a clue who moved it, win!

Hope my word play on the famous phrase who moved my cheese! or an equally famous book by one Dr. Johnson by the same name, really got all your fickle, fleeting attention. By the way i am forced to write this article in text – ideally it should have seen a video with a bite-sized trailer for readers (aka viewers) to figure if they are interested before deciding if they want to watch the entire video. Even if in text should have had two great infographics and probably a story of human interest brimming with authenticity crammed in. Alas, it is not meant to be and my cheese has been moving and have had no time to figure really who moved it. The pun on moving the cheese will be a constant narrative throughout this article and I can only seriously hope you love cheese enough to read through to the last word. I used to love cheese so much that my Pizza choice would always be the cheeseburst one until my jealous physician put an end to it last year. Post which I largely ogle at people who have cheese literally bursting out of their mouths when they eat that pizza. Enough of cheese now and let us cut to the story before the editor who asked me to write the article gets confused if she was asking a communicator or a foodie to contribute an article and the topic has been misunderstood. 

And it really gets my goat (or cheese) when asked to predict on the big trends in the PR space. We have heard it all by now – storytelling, integrated campaigns, right balance of earned, paid and owned media, the emergence and power of micro influencers, the literally nauseating explosion of videos (pardon my usage of that word until you are punished to watch videos on Tiktok by vanity flowing and largely good looking human beings), inbound marketing driven by content, Pull instead of push, big data and analytics, the purported death of AVE (except that it lives still happily in most agency reports to clients) and the invasion of geeks (read technology) into the arty kingdom of PR. But you see, when someone asks you to write an expert article, you need to get really serious and ensure you deliver cheese worth it! 

Basics prevail: US may say the best cheese in the world now comes from there (actually it is just one brand and one award which says so but that is what smart marketing is all about) but traditionalists worldwide will still swear by their mouths and more that it comes from France, Italy and Switzerland. That is the way it is in lots of aspects of life how much ever one talks of digital, disruption, etc. In communication even with the explosion of new tools, platforms, techniques what remains key and holding it all together is the same and will be the same. Everything else, however disruptive are all just better, more effective ways of enabling. And the real danger is in all the froth around these new tools and fads, many in the business seem to think the basics are no longer relevant or important. One cannot be any farther from the truth than these professionals. I am more than happy to wage my cheese that those whose basics are right will still have an edge and a super edge if they also understand what is the new in terms of tools and techniques.

The PR-social-digital continuum mastery will become critical: The convergence is truly here and the consumers are just seamlessly wafting across platforms, media aided by technology which is making it even easier and faster. PR is today among the largest and most credible content source for social and together, social and PR influence search and effectiveness of digital. And social influences PR as more and more journalists/influencers get engaged and influenced on their social assets. It is a seamless continuum with no boxing possible. And if any the boxes are more imaginary. Those who understand, embrace and master this continuum will be ahead and have an edge.

The biggest bang even for your A-list coverage will come from its social amplification: Coverage is fleeting – ofcourse the impression it leaves is not. But where nothing lasts for even minutes and attention deficit is no longer the issue of the young, it is even more important that there be an effort to ensure the coverage is amplified so that more people know of it and the number who have lasting impressions is higher. It is no longer just saying we got coverage on your social assets. It is about how structured is your process behind ensuring each significant media coverage gets rightly and instantly amplified.

Say no to plastic authenticity: If Presidents and Prime Ministers can be caught red handed for their staged gestures, acts and pics, organisations and brands need to realise the days of plastic authenticity is over. Being pretentious, formal, diplomatic and extremely politically correct are all looked down upon and actually not liked by growing number of audiences worldwide. And CSR white washes are just not pricey but at best crisis diversions or temporary band aids. It also makes you a sitting duck from the attacks of those who loathe such behavior while you smugly walk around thinking a PR coup has been pulled off. 

Bite-sized video content: Won’t say too much on this and make it like the trailer for a video, short and sweet. Make your video content bite sized, devoid of jargon, easy on eyes and catchy.

Need to know the exact calories ladies and gentlemen, just a fine cheese pizza is not enough: Seeking real and tangible value will see a huge rise. And you don’t need to be at Provoke to know this. The repeated message that is coming in is –what is the business impact? Those who are able to even manage a meager answer will do much better than those with voluminous dockets of coverage dossiers with sky high AVE. Be it Jim Macnamara model of measurement and evaluation or newer AI and big data/analytics based tools, it is time to seek the metrics which will prove business impact or value to the business.

Our jobs are/will be safe: Particularly reassuring words in an age where daily newspaper headlines scream layoffs. 

The best cheese in the world is still one that is made the traditional way. Same with old fashioned basics of effective communication. Once you have that mastery it is just a question of figuring literally who is moving the cheese (i.e. trends shaping the PR space), constantly adapting and really pushing ourselves to be measured on what business impact communication creates or created. 

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Xavier Prabhu
Xavier Prabhu, the author of this article is Founder & Managing Director, PRHUB, one of India’s leading independent full service PR firms that has embraced the integrated value proposition and has built multiple specialized capabilities in-house. He can be reached at xavier@prhub.com

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