Recently I’ve noticed that in search of the information about modern strategies in PR and communication, I moved from communication to popular business section of the library. And it’s not only marketing literature I take there, but also some books on basic principals of modern markets and consumer behavior. It may sound surprising, but these books gave me more insights in modern communication arena that any textbook on PR or any professional media.
On annual PR Week’s PR 360 conference for industry practitioners, the experts keep saying about the death of advertisement and the growing role of media and therefore, of PR (PR Week, 2017). And I cannot say these two notions are wrong, but they are true for a decade already, and the situation on the market changes constantly. It’s not only the fact that Millenials have become the main purchasing power recently, but also the political activism which is raising all over the world, the triumph of niche culture, which makes blockbusters less popular, and the technology development that provides more people with greater opportunities for consuming media and entertainment. As Chris Anderson showed in his 10-years old book “The Long Tail” (my review is here), the Internet changes the rules of the game, creating the fragmentation of the market as people tend to turn from mass culture products as TV, bestselling books, cinema blockbusters and latest fashion trends to niches, which better suited for their specific interests and please them much more. In this context, speaking about sticking to media and journalists sounds so outdated! PR should find the ways to the audience, which base their decisions on blogs, forums, online recommendation services and feedback rather than editor’s columns. Not because the editors become worse, but because their focus moved towards more specific information channels.
The other point in this discussion is the changing nature of PR. As Ryan Holiday states in “Growth Hacker Marketing” (I reviewed it here), the modern system of communication and promotion based on statistics and traceable data, which makes the great difference to all communication process we’ve ever known. Anderson (2009) stated that Internet gave marketers and producer the chance to receive feedback and therefore, follow the public opinion and tastes rather than guessing what people may want. It saves the money, time and efforts, leading to effective promotion of new products and services. And as both Anderson and Holiday show it, the tech companies follow this new strategy.
Going even deeper with revolutionary thinking, Holiday admits that he was doing the wrong job as a marketing representative, ignoring the production stage and accepting the given product. In the world of instantaneous feedback, it’s unaffordable waste to ignore the possibilities to develop the product. His idea is simple but outrageous: PR and marketing are not the separate processes but the part of the whole production circle, they may and should play the role on development stages, help to improve the performance, increase productivity and concentrate on features the audience likes and wants to use.
The role of PR really becomes greater nowadays, but not because the ads loose their power, – the new business models and market reality give PR a chance to play the greater role of transmitter and catalyst of positive growth for products and brands. The only question is how many PR professionals ready to admit this and change their working style and tactics in accordance with new reality.
Chris Anderson (2009) The longer long tail: how endless choice is creating unlimited demand. London: Random House Business.
PR Week (2017). Why is ‘earned’ becoming the only canvas that matters? And why should PR stick up for journalists? prweek.com. Available from http://www.prweek.com/article/1432153/why-earned-becoming-canvas-matters-why-pr-stick-journalists.
Ryan Holiday (2014). Growth Hacker Marketing. London: Profile Books.