‘Post Truth Authenticity’ and other 2017 PR challenges…

Adrienne Robins

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Adrienne

 

A couple of years ago, I remember writing about the importance of transparency in the social media age. In summary, the narrative went something like this:

  • Social media gives everyone a voice
  • If you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, you’ll be called out – publicly
  • Be prepared – recognise and prepare for your skeletons; understand your shortfalls; build up your bank of goodness; do more to engage

 

And then 2016 happened.

 

This time last year we didn’t really have a clue what was coming. Or maybe we did have a clue – but we couldn’t acknowledge it or put it into words. At least collectively.

 

From a B2B PR perspective, I’ve seen so many organisations that got the whole ‘transparency’ thing. Trouble is, politically we either couldn’t or wouldn’t make that leap.

 

With the benefit of hindsight, if politicians had listened and responded a bit more maybe we’d be in a different place right now.
Instead we’re in a world where ‘post truth’ has happened. And 80s ‘dinkys’* (remember them) have disappointingly turned into ‘jams’**. If you’re of a certain age then it is possible that you could have started out a dinky, turned nimby and ended up in a bit of a jam. Really.
Thing is, post truth blatantly stamps all over transparency. So, do we throw our hands up and forget about it and resolve to change the story to fit the situation as required?
I think not.
So, just how should we be preparing our PR and comms strategies for the year ahead? Here are five areas that you should be concentrating on.

 

  1. Ensure you’re interesting: just because the world around you feels a little bit odd, that’s no excuse to revert to boring messages. Publishers are crying out for content, but unless it’s thought provoking, new and maybe a little bit controversial it’ll head straight into the bin.
  2. Be authentic: authenticity is the new transparency. Live your messaging and follow it through. Of course, you can surprise people – but do it in a good way. Remember those mission statements and values – go back to them and see if you’re really living the dream.
  3. Unleash your caring side: pick up the CSR baton, but try and make it a bit more human and spontaneous. If you or your team do something good – don’t strategise the comms into the ground. Just get out there and talk about it, in a natural, warm voice.
  4. Connect and collaborate: now, more than ever, it’s apparent that people want to meet ‘real’ people and work together to effect change and new opportunities. Get out from behind your content and listen. Add to the debate. Be brave (see point 1). Shape the outcome.
  5. Look for clarity of outcomes: when it comes to PR, measurement has long been a dirty word. Fact is, for most clients it’s about impact on real business objectives. When putting in place new PR campaigns, focus on deliverables and overarching objectives, not column inches. Get KPIs in place and everyone knows the required direction of travel.

 

Wishing you all a Happy 2017!

 

* DINKY: double income no kids yet, an acronym from the have-it-all, shoulder-padded, excessive 80s

 

** JAM: for those that have spent the last month on the moon, Teresa May’s shorthand for those that are Just About Managing and clearly can’t afford a new pair of leather trousers (although they may be wiser to make a different fashion choice)

1980s

Adrienne yellowBy Adrienne.

 

Paul’s 90s blog got me thinking. Not about the 90s, but about the 80s.

 

Yes, Paul, the 90s was the decade of the internet and the mobile. But the 80s was when it all started to change. In the 80s we used typewriters and printed things off in triplicate. As journalists, we spent days at the typographers – and then more days at the printers. We used pica em rules – anyone else remember them?

 

And then, all of a sudden we got word processors. They weren’t linked to anything (sometimes not even the office printer). They had a nasty green screen and a floppy disk drive. And they were a bit temperamental.

 

The first time I used a word processor (outside of college) was when I switched from journalism to PR. Overnight I changed from copy editor to media relations expert, and shifted up a technological gear. All good – expect that very first day the mean green machine ate my words leaving me with nothing to show but a blank screen. That’s progress for you.

1980s office scene
This is how people worked in the 1980s apparently

 

Those golden, heady days of 80s PR agencies are now much lampooned. Agencies have changed; there’s less eating and drinking (much, much less) and more creativity and professionalism. Digital has indeed been part of this change, and continues to be so.

 

But there’s one thing that digital didn’t improve – and that was in person communication. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wind the clock back and be without email, internet, apps and social media. But I also believe that we’re more creative and productive when we pick up a phone rather than hide behind email. Or spend time physically (or virtually) in the same room focusing on the same goal.

 

For me, the 90s is when we started to ignore people in favour of technology. Only now, two decades later, are we learning to combine both skills and beginning to re-prioritise in person relationship building. Because, all things considered, when you meet someone you build a deeper connection and a more enduring memory that is more likely to result in action.

 

And the new breed of Millennial Marketeers know this. So expect to get more invites. Enjoy!