By Geoff Livington, Capitol Communicator Media Strategist
Last week, I helped Vocus and Cision put on a private conference in Silicon Valley on the future of PR. The event featured several prominent speakers, including author Brian Solis, Google’s Adam Singer, Airbnb SEO Lead Dennis Goedegebuure, Cisco PR’s John Earnhardt, and Orange Silicon Valley’s Ken Yeung, each of whom had disparate visions of what PR would look like in 10 years.
At times, it seemed that everything in communications would die a slow death. Still, I walked away with a single point of view: Successful practice will require intention in every way.
Three key conversation threads crystallized this thesis:
1) Media Wanes: While certainly powerful, almost everyone agrees that traditional media brands have lost power, and certainly have fewer reporters and resources with which to report. This forces communicators to use a wider variety of tactics and tools to generate word-of-mouth within stakeholder communities, including social media, content and SEO. Digital has democratized media, empowering every brand to easily communicate in direct fashion with stakeholders.
2) Accountability: Thanks to digital, communicators know more about the impact of their actions then ever before. Analysis — understanding data and what it means — has become a critical skill set.
While data helps prove first lead contact and ROI for PR pros, it can also provide a red herring. Goodwill doesn’t come from selling at people all the time. Audiences are repelled by consistent salesmanship in channels where they expect value. Communicators must understand how to use data to measure increased goodwill through longer time on site, increased interactions, better reviews, more first touches with leads, etc. Through comprehension of customer behavior data, PR can become more intentional.
3) Noise Factor: The combination of new channels and ROI data has created a glut of corporate noise in online channels. Customers are becoming desensitized to “me, too” corporate communications in online channels. To stand out, brands must be intentional and provide high-quality value through their outreach.
Intention has always been part of the game through messaging and selected tactics. However, the new media landscape has forced brands to achieve a new level of accountability with their communications. If they don’t act with the intention of providing real value to their customers and other stakeholder groups, communications will not yield optimal results.
What do you think is the future of PR