Mark Knight is a Director at Broadgate Mainland the London PR agency, specialists in financial services public relations amongst many other services.
With digital communications and particularly the transparency of social media changing the landscape for customer services and all other business areas, it’s becoming more widely acknowledged that everyone needs to be good at PR. What does this mean for business and what frameworks and training can be applied to help business survive?
Why PR is an important discipline for every area of business?
Traditionally PR has been seen as an exercise carried out by a team (internal or external) involving long lunches and wand waving to influence the influential. It was measured by clippings & column inches before moving online and being becoming accountable to the number of eyeballs (impressions & clicks).
But thanks to the unending advance of technology and particularly open communications channels public relations has become something that we can all do, outside & inside of business.
Businesses have PR professionals with many skills
The world of PR is just as much about influence as it is about persuasion – the two concepts are closely linked. A PR professional can have numerous skills in his or her public influence, many of which are now being learned and understood to be beneficial to any career. Below is a short list of just a few skills a PR professional may or may not have many:
+ Online community influence (forums and comment sections)
+ Written social media influence
+ Audio visual social media influence
+ Visual and graphic social media influence
+ Networking influence
+ Multi platform influence
+ Webminar and Vlog influence
+ Blog and website influence
+ Interpersonal influence
+ Industry influence
+ Lobby or specialist group influence
+ Content marketing influence
+ Mainstream media influence
+ Demographic sector influence aided/hosted/supported by third parties
+ Collaborative influence
The perception that Public Relations is simply about a team communicating brand messages is changing. Being able to conduct your own PR is a valuable asset in your career today and knowing what to say when has become more and more important. There have been far too many examples of PR gone wrong for any individual not to consider the outcomes of any form of activity conducted in the public domain.
Indeed it is also the case the PR is a skillset in the private domain! HR teams will often review social media profiles before they grant candidates a job, and it’s this kind of planning that needs to be considered for your career ladder.
Two fish can have very different fins
We live in an age where a reputation can be exclusive to one area and not another. It used to be that a PR professional would have a “standing” in a certain community or group, but these days two PR professionals can stand side by side with almost semi-celebrity status and yet both operate on different platforms and in very different ways.
For example, the YouTube influencer PewDiePie has millions of followers on YouTube and influences the games that people buy. He has a lot of influence, and yet in the online world outside of YouTube he was unheard of until appearing on the TV show South Park. Similarly, a popular influencer on the Internet is Ben Yahtzee, a game reviewer who also has millions of followers, but he is unheard of by most YouTube regulars.
These days PR professionals can have similar experiences, where one may be lauded and celebrated at networking events, but is unheard of in online forums. Understanding your influence in your networks is important.
PR should be practised by all departments
Thanks to the open communication afforded by social media PR is no longer limited to individuals or teams. PR skills need to be understood and learned by all teams. After all associations with your workplace inevitably travel with you wherever you go online.
Traditionally PR blazed the trail, but now customer services are very much in the spotlight, followed by whoever looks after brand loyalty, collaboration & partnerships, networking & thought leadership, and of course brand, marketing and acquisition.
If all departments understand the practices and principles of PR and the immediate open nature of the internet today there is a bright future for business in a world that can so much more easily scrutinise everything we do.