PR challenges in the age of digital

October 17, 2017

We’re not in the 1950’s anymore and gone are the days when Television, Newspapers and Radio could be seamlessly absorbed by our audiences without question. As we enter the fourth revolution, there are fundamental shifts occurring and the reality in today’s PR age is that if you want to create a conversation, you won’t be able to ignore digital.

An issue facing PR agencies today, is how to prioritise what will work when we cannot predict the future. While most agencies have jumped onto the digital bandwagon, is this where they should be focusing all of their efforts? On the other end of the spectrum, some brands, P&G for example, have refused to engage with the digital, arguing that traditional outlets have a far greater impact on their target audience. Are they simply living in the past, or have we put too much emphasis on the digital in a bid to not be left behind? You’d really have to go out of your way to implement a PR strategy that does not include some kind of digital footprint, even if it’s just creating a twitter page for clients. So with this in mind, where should PR be heading?

The UK has even more traditional outlets than ever before. As our economy expands and globalisation continues to rise, magazines, newspapers and broadcasters are all increasing, and having a digital medium should not mean they are ignored. Now more than ever we see a greater impact on our lives from digital channels; social networks provide us with limitless self expression, Uber connects with passengers through the tap of a button, and LinkedIn allows individuals to better flourish in their careers. The opportunities to connect really are endless, and our message needs to be one that lets our audience participate; consumers like a dialogue that creates long-term meaning, not just a short-term affair.

While we can just email (or even fax, if people still do that anymore) a press release to a reporter, delivering our message digitally is less archaic and allows targeting the masses instantaneously. Similarly, PR agencies can come under attack just as quickly; we see crises now unfold at lightning speed on the web and we no longer live in a time where PR professionals can take ample amounts of time and assess the situation for a viable solution.

All of this does present challenges for PR agencies; a wider skill set is needed amongst employees, more distinguished PR strategies need to be put in place and be readily available, adaptable content development for any situation needs to be created, and more research & analytics need to ensue.

While the savviness needed in PR today is more present than ever, this should not hinder our perseverance in the industry and with the right approach to digital and traditional outlets, we can continue to strive forward in the current age. Delivering the highest service to our clients and tailoring messages to the right audiences, while embracing upcoming changes will ensure we do not fall victim to decade old practices.

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