Businesses, except a few which gained due to the lockdown, are facing losses due to low turnover scenarios; and are forced to curb their expenses in various ways. Most of the businesses are also adopting the ‘wait and watch’ approach, which seems to be most logical at this juncture. The first large expense that gets cut in Corporates is the Marketing budget.
Public Relations then becomes a more preferred option over advertising.
PR Industry and activities undergoing change
But the PR industry is also in trouble. Traditional PR thrives on the print media and television; and, since the lockdown, most print media have suffered huge circulation losses and had to close down editions or sections, as consumers refused to buy newspapers. These media houses have started moving to online formats, delivering the daily newspapers online and circulating important news items on social media.
There is therefore a forced shift towards online activity for Public Relations. Consumers, restricted in movement, are also spending more time online. Online communication and the need for information, other than Covid news, is thus growing. While product launch stories are few today, stories on market trends and those with a humane angle or acts of bravery are being highlighted.
Changing role of the New Age PR professional
In this scenario, the New Age PR professional can play a pivotal role between the market and the business. During moments of crisis, brands still need to keep the connection with the audience. An online connect can be far more direct and influencing; and yet, not be expensive.
This is also at a time of increasing specialization – employers now want that Super SEO specialist or content management specialist. So there are new opportunities coming up for PR professionals.
Public Relations is a very critical part of the marketing function. Over the years its criticality has only grown, from a media relationship management to a larger, strategist kind of a role; handholding the senior management and guiding them to do what is required for creating and sustaining the brand reputation.
For startups, small businesses and self employed professionals too, this shift is a blessing. Suddenly, they now have the ability to connect with a large audience, anywhere in the world, without having to spend a fortune on advertising or media relationship management.
Some important aspects of New Age PR
- The PR person’s role shifts from being a media relations person, to becoming a media and audience management person. Thus becoming a critical role.
- Whether Corporate Managers, Start up founders, Small business owners or Self employed professionals; everyone needs to dedicate some time everyday towards personal public connect and PR work; whether by sharing insightful content from personal experience, that can be useful information for all at large; or interacting with connections by responding to their posts.
- The key measurables of the PR activity have to be well defined by the PR person and the core management team.
- Cost effective campaign management through social media is a very real possibility. It also offers a great opportunity to provide innovative and creative content through write-ups, videos, gifs, opinions etc.
- Yet, while building the direct online connect, we cannot lose focus on key newspapers and print media, who have also moved online and continue to define public opinion; impacting consumers, investors and decision makers in businesses.
- Influencers who could work for the brand could be a good help. This can lead to some interesting PR opportunities, thus creating word of mouth and virality.
Building New Age PR capability at this juncture will stand in good stead once the economy starts reviving and markets open up.
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