PR Forum 2012: New trends and new ideas


New trends and new ideas were the main topics during the second session at PR Forum 2012. The speakers were Ioana Manoiu (GMP PR), Emmanuel Goedseels (Whyte Corporate Affairs), Jon Aarons (FTI Consulting) and Karl Heinz Heuser, CEO Burson-Marsteller.

The one that opened the session was Karl Heinz Heuser, CEO of Burson-Marsteller. His presentation was centered on the idea of trust in today’s communication. He said that trust doesn’t mean only confidence, but also feelings.

He explained that corporate reputation is very important, while the purpose of a company is its core DNA, the very reason why it exists. According to Heuser, communicating on corporate purpose is a key strategic tool for managers seeking to build trust and reputation with stakeholders. Trust includes two main components: rational (that requires information and knowledge) and emotional (based on feelings and beliefs).

Heuser explained that PR can use all the advertising instruments to transmit the message and feelings and gave couple examples in this direction.

He also explained that, once the trust is lost, it is very difficult to get it back and you need to know the reasons in order to be able to do so.

According to him, social networks are important in building trust, because they are an excellent platform for dialogue where people can communicate and interact

Next speaker in the panel was Jon Aarons from FTI Consulting, that explained that every client an agency has is exposed to globalization and needs to build and keep his reputation.

He also said that people now are empowered, especially after they got together with technologies that allow them to send information in real time, making the news mobile and instantaneous. In this context, some things the agencies and companies have to take in consideration to keep up and handle the situations that can appear:

  • Do the right thing
  • Tell the truth
  • Know what and who matters most
  • Target them with fierce discipline
  • Listen to your people
  • Give them what they want
  • Don’t try to hide
  • Justice will catch up with you
  • Be creative with other people’s ideas
  • Don’t expect miracles

Emmanuel Goedseels from Whyte Corporate Affairs spoke about crisis, explaining that, although most of the situations that represent a crisis are the same, they are reflected with a twist nowadays because of social media and new technologies.

  • According to him, among the new aspects of crisis, there are:
  • More scrutiny about ethics, values and services quality
  • More uncontrolled stories about a company
  • Sound and image everywhere
  • Comments of all kinds in social media
  • High level of retention on digital platforms
  • Everyone is right

In this context, he also said that a crisis response plan can be very useful for the moment when a real crisis breaks.

Simon Shaw, Creative Director of Exposure, an UK agency, came with a very alive presentation that focused on the rise of content, the importance of communication platforms and the danger of the same space.

The session was closed by Ioana Manoiu, Managing Partner GMP PR, that came with a presentation in which explained which are, in her opinion, the obstacles the PR people are facing.

Ioana also acknowledged that many things changed in the industry and also, on the press front, the numbers diminished.

The changes in the industry that include a new orientation of the PR to integrate online and social media and to take in consideration a whole new mindset from digital natives determined the appearance of new obstacles for PR professionals.

Among those:

  • The personal mindset – some old school PR professionals have real problems adjusting to social media and prefer to do their job old-fashioned way, using the channels and instruments they know best
  • Relationship with the marketing departments – adds obstacles for companies and agencies together. There are numerous situations when the marketing department of a company summons the PR agency and ask it to promote the campaigns made together with advertising agencies
  • The fight for social media – because social media is a very appealing medium and can be used as vehicle in many ways, this channel is claimed by everybody: advertising agencies, PR agencies, digital /interactive agencies and so on.
  • Competition from digital and advertising agencies – PR agencies have to compete now with digital and advertising agencies. In the previous years, many of the advertising agencies made separate companies out of their PR departments. Nowadays, they are trying to reintegrate PR because, as all the budgets are being diminished, they are trying to pull more money from the client by offering a different range of services.
  • Prove the ROI – PR doesn’t have tools to measure ROI, it has only limited measuring methods, but those ones cannot measure also the quality of the exposure.

In the end, Ioana Manoiu spoke about PR and the way the industry presents. She said there is an assumed positioning PR always had, as the little sister always coming 2nd, and a change of this attitude might prove beneficial to the industry. In other words, opportunities are there and expect to be seized; the only problem is the way of seizing them: as a driving force that gives the tone and the drive, or as Cinderella, always the little sister that gets only crumbs after others are consuming a rich meal.

This second seminar was the last one to which everybody present at PR Forum participated. After the pause, there were a series of simultaneous seminaries that focused on: Corporate Communication & Change Management, Creativity in PR, Measuring Online PR, Brand Communication and Blogger Relations.

The event will continue on March 15th, with a series of workshops.