The field of PR is quickly changing as result of the evolving digital technologies and media landscape. We can ask ourselves: 10 years from now, will PR disappear, become a part of Marketing efforts or take the lead?
When ‘PR Meets Marketing’ was a one-day Digital Summit organized by Meltwater. It gathered PR and Marketing experts from Cape Town to London and Amsterdam online. Together, they tried to answer the question: 10 years from now will PR disappear?
More and more, we see the disciplines of PR and Marketing collaborating. Today, brand reputation is intrinsically linked to sales conversions. Only in the cross-functionality of PR and marketing can campaigns deliver good results. Thus, experts agree, the only way to success is integrated campaigns.
The Rise of Purposeful Brands
These are exciting times, when GenZ truly understands the power of its dollar. Reports show that GenZ is using its purchasing power and social media influence to hold brands accountable or force them to change. Purposeful brands are brands that speak and act the values they profess by. We find ourselves in the age of consumer activism. When the reputation of a brand and its values – traditional PR areas of expertise – are the driving force behind sales. The only brands that will survive in the future are brands that respect people, purpose and planet.
The Strategic Role of PR
Generally focused on seasonal product sales, Marketing seems to miss the mark when it comes to brand strategy, positioning and reputation. Conversely, these are long-term goals and traditional areas of expertise of PR. Greatest evidence is given, when marketing selects an influencer based on reach but forgets a thorough check of real community engagement and the values the influencer lives by.
Normally, marketing creates “buying personas”. However, these seem outdated in today’s day and age. More realistic is to consider that the “customer” is also an employee, an engaged member of his local community, a social media user, an advocate and influencer, and not just simply a person who buys product. This shift in thinking has a huge impact, not only in terms of strategy but also in terms of the customer journey. An omnichannel strategy must accrue for this complexity and drive better understanding and relationships with audiences. The time of mindlessly flushing-out product with no consideration for people, purpose and the planet is over.
Building Trust and Reputation Over Time
It is unlikely that 10 years from now PR will disappear. Gone are the days, when PR knew nothing about Marketing’s plans and vice-versa. Marketing used to hold all the budget and be the only discipline sitting at the strategy table. The most compelling arguments are made today that PR absolutely requires a sit at the strategy table. Even more so, PR needs to report directly to the CEO instead of the CMO. Only from a strategic and informed place can brands output aligned and meaningful messaging that is not tone-deaf.
With digitalization and social media, the field of PR has expanded to embrace much more than strictly media relations. Differently from the past, PR is aided by data-driven tools that provide insightful metrics. In this way, PR can better demystify what it does, why and how it does it. Finally, it can talk results in a way that resonates with the business language within organizations.
PR & Marketing Cross-Over
Marketeers tend to be left-brained while PR people tend to be more right-brained and more creative. During the summit, experts agreed that PR people seem to transgress more easily into Marketing fields and tasks than the other way around. PR remains a field that is more relationship-based, more intuitive and less numerical. Ultimately, PR deals with brand reputation, thought-leadership, brand strategy and values.
In a time, when the business strategy needs to be build upon and communicate solid brand values, PR is unlikely to disappear as some might predict. On a more positive light, PR might just as well be re-inventing itself and even entering its heroic age.
Liliana Rodrigues is a global PR & Content Marketing professional. As a passionate communication strategist and influencer, Liliana makes your best work visible. Get in touch if you are looking to amplify your Public Relations results.
Header Image: Photo by Jakob Owens via Unsplash