#FlockFriday: an ongoing series of weekly interviews with progressive, intelligent, knowledgeable and insightful communications professionals who want to address the issues in the industry and make a real difference to its reputation and its future. 1 topic, 6 questions, a number of thought leaders…
The word ‘guru’ is vastly overused in social media circles, but Deidre Breakenridge is without doubt one of the global leaders in the evolution of the communications industry. The author of several books on the subject, including PR 2.0 and Putting the Public Back in Public Relations (co-written with Brian Solis), she is widely regarded as one of the top strategic PR though leaders and speaks regularly about how organisations must embrace new technologies and combine these with market knowledge to become today’s superlative communicators. Deidre blogs at DeidreBreakenridge.com and is the co-founder of #PRStudChat on Twitter, the highly successful platform for answering questions and educating tomorrow’s PR pros. She’s also one of the most down-to-earth, helpful and friendly people you could ever meet. It’s an honour to have Deidre here on Tribal Boogie.
However, through the shifting landscape, the changing face of media and mounting pressures from clients, there is an opportunity for PR professionals to excel as strategic communicators (being less task oriented) and to become better relationship builders. The shift in media consumption, advanced collaborative technology and the ability for brands to connect directly with influencers, causes a great need for more listening and strategic thinking. Professionals who understand how to create and humanize stories, monitor the brand’s reputation (being proactive) and build meaningful relationships will be greater assets to their organizations.
PR/Communications has increased in scope and responsibility, securing that spot at the boardroom table. We have a much stronger focus on strategy and planning of both traditional and social communications and we will increasingly blend the best of both worlds to help brands reach all stakeholders, where they reside in the market.
I’m not sure if we’re scared, or if it’s just difficult to learn a new approach and process. And, even if PR and communications professionals embrace the changes this doesn’t necessarily translate into our organizations embracing as quickly. Perhaps, it’s a complacency that we are used to in our communications process. Unfortunately, an older approach and process doesn’t safeguard the brand for today’s fast paced conversations, but rather could be to the brand’s detriment.
Today, it’s critical for communications professionals to understand that the social landscape requires changes that will enhance relationships and value. At the same time, a social approach will help to build community and prepare the brand for any negative and/or miscommunications on its behalf. Changing the approach and process of communication, and realising that PR has an increased role to play, may be a challenge. However, it’s probably one of the most exciting times in the history of PR and communications, as we are reinventing and reinvigorating our industry.
As we learn to use these new platforms and tools, and understand how technology has the potential to facilitate great conversations, then and only then, we can move forward to educate our brands. And, when it comes to those professionals who don’t understand, it’s up to individual champions to bring the best of digital and social media to their colleagues, showing positive results and value. If you understand the changing face of the communications industry and learn to speak a new media or social media language, then you can instruct and help others to learn too. If a CEO in an agency doesn’t understand that a new skill set is needed, then his/her staff has to be even more committed to showing value. A few good, new media or social media champions, including any higher-level executives you can recruit toward change, might turn this situation around.
We must all keep in mind that managing and traversing technology with ease doesn’t always translate into a market strategy. Senior professionals have spent years cultivating their ability to plan and strategize for their brands, based on an understanding of business and the market landscape. The best possible scenario is to close the chasm by educating up and educating down. If senior professionals have the business and market knowledge and younger professionals understand the technology and tools, then collaboration in the middle will lead to outward facing communication that creates advocacy and more loyal customers for the brand.
As a united front, we need to band together through our industry associations to show the value of good strategic PR and communications. Case in point, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) launched its Business Case for this very purpose. The Business Case educates CEOs and senior level executives in organizations as well as the public on the value of PR, by highlighting our key roles and outcomes, and by demonstrating strategic values (the very opposite of a spin doctor).
I also believe that through social media we are changing our reputation by being more open, transparent and human in our communications. After all if we’re instructing our brands to operate in this fashion, we must do the same for ourselves.
The question shouldn’t be ‘who owns social media?’ because I don’t think anyone can own it, similar to email or IM. Rather the question should be, ‘what do we need to do as strong coalition to create a social media program together that’s in the best interest of the brand?’ In this scenario, each group or department knows their rightful place, is interacting with unique human voices and collectively we are all creating a better customer experience through social outreach. Over the next five or ten years, we will see PR and communications become more integrated into other areas of communications, as our roles and functions will expand to help guide and monitor all communication across an organisation.
tweetmeme_source = ‘ThePaulSutton’; tweetmeme_url = ‘http://tribalboogie.blogspot.com/2010/08/pr-professionals-can-excel-as-strategic.html’
Like This Post? Subscribe to Tribal Boogie