“In an age of brand clutter, how do you remain relevant?”, these are my opening words for learning workshops I conduct. I strongly believe we are in a time and space when loyalty changes at the click of a button. To stay relevant, one needs a brand purpose that helps you differentiate in this competitive and challenging environment.
I had similar thoughts while traveling to Washington DC two weeks ago, for my first PRovoke – those who may not know this is a Global Public Relations Summit by The Holmes Report. There are conferences, then why does this surpass credibility. Post the two engaging days, I could connect the dots and get answers to my doubts.
A credible and reputed brand is the one that works with a Purpose that is intrinsically linked to the roots of business and its Value, this was the key learning from the session Discovering Purpose: How Brands authentically engage with the world today. Purpose gives brand the ammunition to bring measurable result like Perception or Behaviour or Policy or System Change. By the end of the engrossing session participants like me had a framework that would help us guide the brands we represent on identifying their Purpose:
- Social Challenge – What do you stand against?
- Credibility: What is your lineage to have a standing?
- Position: What do you stand for?
- Brand Action: How do you take a stand?
We as communication professionals can help a brand find the brand connect by creating an ecosystem where there is social license to grow and build brands. But the big question is – does the brand have a leadership with a strong core – a North Star – the CEO? A person who controls the narrative keeping the values of the brand intact. This becomes critically important in times of deception and misinformation being amplified by Social Media. The session “Crises Management in the Disinformation Era,” couldn’t be more relevant as we keep hearing more and enough closer to home!!
This interestingly linked with the session by the author of CEO Next Door – Elena Botelho who gave a prospective of finding and shaping the right North Star as a leader. Her definitive research on CEO success gave key differentiators DARE – Decisiveness, Adaptability, Reliability and Engagement. Out of these the key being Reliability where she detailed how being on time was the most critical, followed by Engagement with all stakeholders.
However, with advent of technology and Artificial Intelligence, society is being threatened as it undermines our ability to connect. There is no denying that technology and PR have to work together by bringing more creativity and newer possibilities. However, the Intelligent Quotient should not supersede the Emotional Quotient.
As communicators we have to ensure we bring human elements into design – Become TEAM HUMAN. The session “Team Public Relations: Pro Human or not so much,” summed it beautifully that victory of Team Human looks like Renaissance that restores old values, peer-to-peer communication, localisation and more. Don’t technologise Humanity but retrieve human values through technology.
The rise of digital and data has created more value for the communications department. From PR being an afterthought to today, when many award-winning campaign ideas have stemmed from the PR department. This is creating tension between marketing and PR, but tension is good as it fuels creative campaigns. However, we lose our battle due to the lack of a measurement metrics. We fail to connect it with growth. We need metrices that connect storytelling with right audience with outcome and delivery. Both sessions “Why there is gap between Communications and C -Suite,” and “PR used to be afterthought” gave participants food for thought.
The above insights are based on few sessions of the conference. I have to admit all of the sessions were significant keeping the stakeholders and the challenges that they face. Hence by end of the conference I was fuelled with loads of ideas.
Paul Holmes, Founder and Chair of The Holmes Group, shared the brand purpose at the start of the conference, “We at Holmes Reports, via all our properties want to be the conduit that stimulates new thinking and help communication professionals – the participants find solutions for challenges that they may face in years to come.”
It will not be wrong to say that #PRovoke19 stimulated and evoked my grey cells immensely.