By Tariq Al Sharabi, MD at Cicero and Bernay Public Relations.
Technological disruptions and digital progressions have impacted the world in ways that are complex and multifaceted. Consequently, all industries are facing a constant evolution. The communication and public relations (PR) sector is no different, with the field being in constant flux, always adapting, witnessing a paradigm shift, gradually moving away from the traditional approaches of the business.
As such, companies today no longer seek agencies to commission work to; they need partners who can offer turnkey solutions that address their communication needs. To live up to this reputation, PR agencies have to up their game. Merely staying abreast of the changing trends is not enough. It is imperative to master evolving skills of communication from a technical, social, and psychological perspective, or else be doomed to irrelevance. In today’s landscape, the power of information has shifted its focus from corporations to people.
End-users are now more vocal and opinionated than ever; shaping their opinions and influencing their choices is not an easy task. There was a time when the gravity and integrity of a brand were enough to capture the attention of customers, but nowadays, it’s what the brand offers people in experiences.
These changing dynamics of customer behavior only mean that PR theories and practices have to change as well. As more and more customers look for more tangible experiences, the PR industry is consistently challenged to deliver communication strategies that take into consideration 360-degree approaches to combine a multitude of criteria under one umbrella. PR companies have to go beyond their preconceived vision and look at the bigger picture.
If a PR agency is communicating on behalf of a company, it must never lose sight of changing consumer habits that define what they are looking for in a product or service and if they resonate with them. It may be a challenge to maintain consistent creativity, but with a message that is concurrently compelling, relevant, and concrete, trust in the brand will soon follow, creating ambassadors that have become the make-it-or-break-factor for businesses in this day and age. With information being readily available, people today are aware of industry tactics and are more likely to prefer a brand that does not compromise on integrity and speaks directly to them as individuals not a demographic.
Ideal communication or PR agencies today must anticipate the future for a client and develop articulate and forward-thinking messaging strategies on both digital and traditional mediums. Just like data miners and market analysts claim to have a knowledge of changing trends and boast the ability to predict upcoming ones, a PR agency needs to equip itself with traditional and modern knowledge to identify an upcoming change and plan long-term and agile campaigns and strategies for clients, with customer needs at the epicenter.
PR professionals, therefore, need to start considering the broader purpose that they should serve, from just being communication advisors or consultants to becoming a part of the overarching growth of a brand through a progressive approach to proactivity.
This change and switch in customer behavior and trends are but another peg on the grander board of evolving communication. Data sciences and analytics may well define people’s interests, but capturing the essence of a target audience lies in their desires and needs on an emotional level. The only way forward is to broaden horizons, take responsibility, understand the dynamics, and create communication solutions that are flexible and that fit well into the changing design of communication algorithms that not only cater to customers but prioritises them over all else.
Opinions expressed in this piece belongs to the author.