Thomas O’Brien – Junior Account Executive at Spreckley
Coming to public relations from social media enables you to observe another angle to what we all do, which is – effectively – managing Client Experience campaigns. Pad out the semantics and view the pipeline and journey of your campaigns, and you’ll see that public relations and content marketing are all geared toward this larger, overarching target; getting the right people to consume the right information (the information you want them to consume, anyway). One could even call this Content Relations, but perhaps that’s something for 2016.
The PR industry is no stranger to upheaval and rapid change, as it squeezes itself through different digital shapes and social media shaped avenues to fit as many varying talents and disciplines as it can due to the new diktat; horizontality. The PR firm is now integrated; it has added as many forms and channels of communication as it can in order to deliver the best possible experience for its clients. The executives on its accounts are responsible for the daily execution of its client’s experiences, good or bad, positive or negative. The smooth running and continual dissemination of purposed and actioned content, from press release to the deployment of by-lined articles containing expert, niche knowledge; the PR person has become the Client Experience Executive. After all, it is the client who experiences the reputation boost, the commendations, awards and increase in sales and we are the executors of that boost.
That’s how it’s supposed to be, anyway. Is it really, though? Social media entails the opportunity to develop direct dialogue, without the need of the PR person. It lacks the creative development of a bond PRs and journalists once had. In its place we have speed and excess. Digital media encompasses more than the written word, and breaks it down into innumerable channels. Don’t forget your timesheets, even crafting a tweet takes time, especially if you need it signed off, and recording those metrics… Hindsight may lend us the idea things were easier way back when… But this is also wrong, it’s all about speed, and relevance. Before the newsroom witnessed its cull in the early 2000s, the Content ascendancy hadn’t yet taken off. Blogs, vlogs, microblogs, Twitter, Vines, whitepapers, surveys and polls of all different colours and kinds have handed companies, people, ideas or anonymous a tool to broadcast their message as far and wide as their social networks allow. In 2015, we are now swimming in content. It shows no sign of abating or slowing down, and gets faster and increasingly excessive with each turn of the day.
Enter the PR person, the Reputation Manager, the Media Relations Exec, who were perhaps at one time an old guard, actually do have a part to play in the chaos of the current content ecosystem. The champions of brand campaigns must wade through the sea of content in order to bring out the relevance and importance of their initiatives. The PR is the one who innovates the lens and applies it to content and people; who isolates and refines the approach in determining who wants to listen to this message or that; raising the client above the noise in order to reach those they need. By integrating disciplines and breaking down siloes, the Client Experience Executive works across every channel (or should be!) in the effort toward attaining poignancy of message and certainty of relevance. The advent of the digital age was a fast and massive change, and some still find it difficult to view the world horizontally; but it’s now necessary. Those client experience executives in your wonderful integrated communications agency won’t be getting those messages far without tackling the vast digital world and all its noisy channels.