Talk Show With Hope Rufaro Gutuza One of the greatest opportunities we have in deriving performance out of public relations and communications is embracing an integrated and cross-functional mind set.
Public relations and communication will offer a true channels approach in a purposeful message, purposefully delivered.
The year 2022 is shaping up to be a pivotal one for businesses who endured the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic and social-driven challenges of the past two years.
Volatility still grips much of the world but, based on what we’re seeing, brands are getting back to business.
This is also true of communications programs. I expect public relations and communication to have a continued emphasis on authenticity. In equal measure, I believe we’ll also see a serious focus on performance.
Business leaders must realise that public relations and communications programs are no longer just a marketing overlay.
It’s a critical business function and driver. We believe 2022 will be a year for reassessing and elevating public relations and communication strategy as we enter this era of performance communications.
Untethering public relations and communication from earned media
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There is still such an outdated perception of public relations and communication. Despite all the lip service around delivering “the right message to the right people at the right time,” there’s an association that public relations and communications equals earned media. Only earned media maybe with some awards wins, speaking engagements and analyst efforts thrown in. But this is no longer true. In fact, even though we will be the first to tell you that public relations and communication can be an amazing vehicle, we might also be the first to tell you earned media isn’t the right channel at all.
There are many other places to reach people and we believe that when it comes to performance, finding the right medium for the message is one of the most critical parts of a public relations and communications programme. Otherwise, the message will fall flat, or worse, never even see the light of day.
Getting public relations and communications to perform by diversifying its application
Public relations and communication will evolve when PR and communication leaders begin asking the right questions and then creating a strategy versus blindly pursuing earned media in response to that ask. By the way, 90% of our prospects tell us they need earned media, but that isn’t true.
There are a few key questions communicators and companies should ask when outlining the direction for their PR and Communication strategy:
- What’s my goal? What are we trying to communicate and what do we want that communication to do?
- Who’s my audience? Where are they?
- Is the story newsworthy? If it’s about your technology, it’s likely not these days. If it’s issues-based commentary rooted in your company’s actions or role in something impacting society, it is.
But just because a story or message isn’t well-suited to a top-tier news outlet doesn’t mean it’s not important or right for your audience. You just have to strategise another way to go about it – paid, social, video, affiliates, etc.
What public relations and communications look like in 2022
One of the greatest opportunities we have in deriving performance out of public relations and communications is embracing an integrated and cross-functional mind set. Public relations and communications will offer a true channels approach a purposeful message, purposefully delivered. Sometimes it will take shape as earned media thought leadership. But it might also manifest as a social media contest, affiliate marketing, paid content, or even putting paid dollars behind a niche trade article to amplify it with the right audiences.
Just look at publishers, they’re diversifying their channels and content, putting more resources into podcasts and digital audio, e-newsletters and video, especially short-form. A fully realised public relations and communication programme needs to do.
There is no reason public relations and communication stories traditionally pitched to reporters shouldn’t be manifested in these channels too. Consider the outdated press release distribution. The Zimbabweans ages 18 to 29 mostly common known as (amatwo thousand) say the most common digital way they get news is social media . Why isn’t public relations and communications leaning on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube channels for these “announcements?”
We need to evolve beyond the traditional way of thinking and change the mind set about what public relations and communications is and what it can do for a company. The old adage, “the medium is the message,” no longer fits today’s communications. It’s ultimately up to the audience what they want to consume and how. As we look to return to “business as usual” in 2022, successful communications plans that deliver meaningful outcomes will be those that focus on telling stories in the right channels.