"What happens in Vegas, no longer stays in Vegas: It goes viral."
If you take a global view of PR and communications, nothing is more clear than the fact that the environment has changed irrevocably and forever.
And, as could be predicted, the move away from print to digital is global, instant, visual, with communications delivered in a manner, which is short, punchy, and to the point.
Sadly what has been gained in speed is almost equally offset by a loss in accuracy, authenticity and authority.
The new role of communications, then, is that it’s no longer simply PR but a suite of communications options that stretch across a vast and ever-transmuting array of ‘platforms’ to reach an audience who are converted into voracious consumers of your brand, and in turn, your reputation. And of course of any malicious gossip that can be plucked out of the ether at any given time.
As in the past, yet with new ‘tools’, the goal remains for you’re as PR or communications professional, to raise the voice of your client above the aural and digital noise that everyone else is making.
But given the fact that almost anyone with two thumbs, a smartphone, tablet or computer and a quiver of social media logons considers themselves ‘riters’ and “PR’s” these days, professionals have to learn to compete and win in a new game- with ever shifting rules.
Good news and bad news
However, there is good news and bad news. Good news particularly for the proliferation of experienced, recently retrenched journalists who have been left high and dry from newsroom ‘downsizing’. They will find there is still a smidgen of space to sell their writing skills on behalf of ‘mom and pop’ clients to community and regional papers, creating ‘content’ for various ‘platforms’ and touting their considerable skills as ‘media trainers’ or to join the queue of hopefuls seeking placement in an established agency.
And for the professional agency with staff overheads to meet, this new environment opens a vast array of integrated, managed communications in which messaging is massaged across a plethora of (yes declining) print and increasing digital platforms and video channels.
There is also space for well-considered opinion or op-ed articles to deliver, for publications that care, well-crafted features giving the news behind the news into which frequent, favorable client mention is embedded.
And, not least, there is money to be made in sorting out the mess; the bruises to reputations and sales that an irresponsible tweet, an ill-advised Facebook post, or a surreptitious smart phone video clip posted on YouTube can do to a reputation, a brand or product.
World goes instant
Then for the agencies such as HWB, of which I am a co-founder and director, there is the great benefit of belonging to a global network.
As the world goes instant in 140 characters, visual on You Tube and viral constantly and globally with hardly a moment to think a clear thought, access to a vibrant global network of like-minded professionals provides an edge.
Because what happens in Vegas, no longer stays in Vegas: it goes viral. So too are the new communicators who no longer work in isolation but share a global table of international brands where, what’s good for Vegas may just as well be good for other regions.
In other words, what’s good for Vegas may just as well be good for regions far apart in time and space as California from Cape Town, as Barcelona is from Bloemfontein.
I recently conducted a global survey, in which I asked members the 50 agency strong Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) (of which HWB is a member) what has changed in the past three years. The results were gratifyingly predictable and reassuring – and one word encapsulates them all, digital’.
It’s clear that now and in future to deliver the most successful integrated communications service – including PR skills – to our clients we will have to keep up to date and trending.
This includes gaining an intimate workable knowledge the channels and platforms as we nibble at the news, engage in “trending” conversations into which we can insert our messaging.
And we have to remain focused, pay attention to detail and constantly follow through to convert, on behalf of our clients, what is “new” into news to the benefit of our clients, their reputation and their “products.
About Evelyn John Holtzhausen
Evelyn John Holtzhausen is a former journalist, feature writer, and columnist and newspaper editor. He is president of the Public Relations Global Network and co founder and director of HWB Communications (Pty) Ltd.