Under pressure to compete and stay abreast of current industry trends, the traditional public relations offering has had to evolve rather quickly in order to supply the integrated communications demand made by big businesses across the globe. Firms or agencies have taken to adding various multimedia specialists to their teams over the past couple of years, with the aim of being able to offer clients consolidated solutions through a ‘one-stop’ shop offering.
However, as much as the industry is undergoing this transformation, the bottom line is that public relations remains a function that is primarily built upon the developing of meaningful, relevant, sustainable relationships with media, influencers and consumers. Relationships that will see both your agency and your clients through the bad times as well as the good.
Although the industry continues to preach that PR is no longer just about what you say or how you say it, but about what you do and how the relationships you’ve established with stakeholders allow you to do it effectively; the shift does not justify losing our core forte in order to embrace new PR capabilities. In a nutshell, the industry does not solely need new platforms and tools to progress; to a large extent it just simply needs us to go back to basics.
In order to do so, the sentiments of various industry players provide the perfect outline, specialists should specialise. Rather than trying to become the ‘jack of all trades’, writers should write, media managers should manage media relationships and community managers should manage communities .
A great industry example of this would be the current uproar in the banking sector led by customers, who claim that banks are losing value in their core offering. As the banking industry continues to progress, banks are seen to be driving the repositioning of their brands around the offering of innovative solutions, presenting consumers with non-banking benefits that have resulted in consumers retaliating by saying ‘just give me simple banking – just be a bank.’
Similarly PR firms, just need to return to good, clear, concise content development with great media, stakeholder and influencer relations. Targeted content across the right platforms shows that brands and corporates acknowledge that their consumers, influencers and stakeholders live in more than one place, speak to various audiences and thus need more than one message.
Great PR, integrated with social media skills, continues to be built on five key pillars – content, media relations, digital, creative and demand generation. But, what really continues to be needed by clients is communication – excellent communication – and while integration can help achieve this in more ways than we ever dreamt possible, we must not forget the foundation upon which effective communication is built.