Six ways technology has disrupted public relations
Among other industries, public relations has been “disrupted” (buzzword alert!) by technology.
The way in which we communicate—that companies communicate—has been shaped by the latest and greatest advances in tech. PR pros have had to stay nimble, adaptive and consistently incorporate the latest developments into PR plans.
Public relations looks different than it did 10 years—even five years—ago. Here are just some of the ways that technology has shaped the industry:
1. Words are no longer enough. While there’s no doubt that writing and written communication is still a key part of public relations, being able to tell a story through visuals has become almost as important. Infographics, videos and images have become a standard in explaining a company or product to key stakeholders. This is largely because…
2. Meaning is conveyed through symbols and images. Since brevity is key (not only for tweets), what better way to convey emotion or set the stage than with symbols and images? The popularity of emojis, GIFs and Snapchat in regular interaction, speaks (pun intended!) to the new way in which people communicate online. Since not all companies can speak in emoji, it means what we write and create for companies has to be descriptive enough to convey the most accurate meaning.
3. News is consumed differently. If you think about where people get their information, the list is constantly changing. With new outlets, verticals and blogs, along with the rise of peer journalists, communication has to be highly targeted to reach the intended audience. It’s clear that people spend more time reading online (and it’s easier to report breaking news that way), targeted paid content continues to be a useful tactic, and algorithms drive the news people see and read. Consumption has shifted and will continue to.
3. Social media is a pivotal part of engagement. One of the key questions we now have to ask in communications is “Is it shareable?” Related to the shift of how we get information, social media has become a useful tool to share and get news (and sometimes, where reporters get the news to report), which adds another layer to public relations. It’s where some people read their news
4. Communicating has become borderless. While this isn’t a new development, borders have been shrinking faster when it comes to reaching target audiences and communicating because of technology. Whether it’s through messaging (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger), snapping photos, or sharing company news, connecting people across the globe and connecting with them has become easier.
5. Data and analytics make our jobs easier and our programs smarter. The best PR always starts and ends with research (or so a wise professor once said) and the data and analytics functions available to us make our campaigns and strategies smarter and easier.
6. The laundry list of potential crises has grown to include all sorts of cyber risks. As if we didn’t have enough contingency planning to do already! Cybersecurity threats—data breaches, email hacking, technology snafus—all have to be part of crisis planning. We’ve had to learn to communicate about our technology abilities and explain the intricacies of technology—or at least have had to prepare for it.
What else would you add to this list, PR pros?
Julia Sahin works in financial communications at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She plans on doing big things.Connect with her on Twitter. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s.
Photo: Group of business people via Shutterstock