Monday, 25 February 2013

PR: everything is changing

A conversation with the always insightful David Phillips was the starting point for this post.

We all know that the Internet has had a profound effect on how we communicate, consume products and live our lives.

Technological change has a momentum of its own. What we don't know is what is going to happen next. For instance, in five years time, Facebook could be a minority hobby, one national newspaper may no longer be publishing a print version of the news and phones could start to replace credit cards. Alternatively, none of that may happen and something else come along and change everything.

None of this speculation is new.

What isn't discussed generally is how businesses will make money. Clothes companies make no longer make money from selling clothes and instead see revenue come from selling their intellectual property.

When all that starts to take shape, public relations will change. Of course, what communicators do is already changing but there is undoubtedly more to come.

As readership of newspapers declines further getting your message in the right place will become more and more important. But a corporate voice on Facebook or LinkedIn won't work. So how will communicators ensure that people hear what they want to say in a web of noise?

It is likely that PR will be stripped down to its fundamental elements. The job will probably focus on building relationships, building brands and identifying problems that may occur due to social media engagement.

PR may no longer be divided by issues management, crisis communications and so on. That doesn't mean that companies will stop thinking about their reputation or producing corporate messages. But there will be less of this and how it is done will change.

Furthermore, marketers and advertisers will be chasing that branding building and engagement work. They are likely to believe they have a greater claim on it. In the end though it won't matter what you call the job. After all, what PR, marketers and advertisers do is communicate. They just use different tools to do it.

For public relations professionals to stay on top they will need new skills but more importantly they will need to think differently.

This post first appeared on the CIPR's the conversation

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