We all grew up listening to our parents and grandparents talk about how things were “back in the day.” You know, those stories where they walked to school uphill in the snow, both ways. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I’m finding myself using this phrase a lot lately. It’s hard for the younger professionals in our industry to know what life was like before email, the internet and smart phones, all while I vividly recall seeing a Prodigy commercial for the first time while watching a Superbowl game my last year in college. That day, the discussion quickly turned away from football, and towards questions about how this Prodigy thing was going to work and whether it was feasible. Back then, little did any of us know how or where the internet would grow, and how it would affect our lives, careers and industries just 20 years later.
I’m reminiscing here, but this isn’t another blog debating the virtue of press releases and how communicating with the public and media has changed. Those things are all relevant, but what they don’t address is how, as a whole, PR is fundamentally different than it was just a few years ago. Here’s why:
- No more silos. We’re finally moving towards true integration. It used to be that advertising did their thing.Web folks had their strategy, and PR’s job was to interact with the media or do public events. Several years ago, I recall sitting on a weekly conference call with a major consumer brand working on the Midwest launch of a new product. Six marketing disciplines were on that call each week, yet no one was on the same page about the campaign, what was happening, when and where. Just because we’re having a weekly conference call doesn’t mean the efforts are integrated! Brands, agencies, and corporate marketers are finally moving towards real integration of efforts. I would argue this is because …
- Everything is PR, and PR is everything. I’m not just saying this because I’m a disciple of the profession. I say this because as we move away from siloed disciplines, everything is falling into one bucket – PR. Marketing today is about conversation, building trust, and forging relationships with your audience. That’s PR. As Kolbeco has moved further into integration, we’re seeing how it affects every part of our business and process, starting even in the sales and proposal phase. We’re finding more clients who don’t necessarily care what the specific tactics are, they’re looking to achieve a goal. This is different from the days when clients hired us for media relations. They’re starting to see the value in changing their online presence from just having a website to leveraging that property to be their own media outlet with distribution strategy, all while repurposing content in a way that’s relevant for traditional media pitches and opening discussions on social media..
- You have more control over your message than ever. You also have less control over your message than ever. Both of these scenarios are OK. You can become your own brand media company, and produce content that shares your brand in a way that’s meaningful and valuable to your audience. You can start direct conversations with your audience. On the flip side, your audience can just as easily create content about you, and start conversations about your brand. When they’re great expressions of passion for your brand, like this one that our client Antennas Direct’s fan created for them.That also means that people can say nasty things about you. We’ve seen many cases where when that happens. the loyal fans come to the brand’s defense against the naysayers. We’ve also seen brands get defensive and come out swinging on social media. There’s an art to managing online negativity well, and it starts with taking a few moments to gain some awareness about what’s happening, what you’re feeling and what the consequences of your response may be.
So if you’re thinking about your PR, marketing, website, advertising or online strategy for 2015, consider the three points above. It’s always fun to relive stories of “back in the day,” but when it comes to your brand it’s not going to get you very far.