The words I keep hearing about Romania are “astonishingly creative and strategic, exciting market”
This is how Paul Holmes, founder of The Holmes Report and SABRE Awards, started his speech at PR Forum 2014, an annual event held in Bucharest and organised by Evensys.
Holmes started his speech hoping to deliver a fairly upbeat message about the PR industry, but not limited to the Romanian market, pointing that he will also temper that with some warning.
According to Holmes, we have entered an age in which there is a real unprecedented competition. Entering a much more competitive landscape means that public relations people, both from organizations and agencies, are going to have to deal with competition. And if they’re going to win, they will have to be a lot better than they have been until now.
The dominant trend in the client’s side of the business is convergence, or the blurring of the lines between Public Relations and marketing, between corporate communication and marketing
He also explained that if, in the past, the brand was all the things you said about yourself, today the brand is defined by what other things people say about us.
Along with an increased competition, Holmes sees signs that the Public Relations industry is moving towards an age of increased transparency, while Digital and social media forced companies to see the dramatic changes these mediums have brought.
Holmes’ advice to communication professionals? They have to be authentic and honest.
I like to believe that that gives Public Relations people an advantage. Regardless for who are you working for, the principles of good PR are pretty much the same today: transparency, conversation, engagement; things critical to Public Relations today have been critical since the very beginning of time.
Social media doesn’t change any of that. PR has always functioned by telling the story to someone, hoping that that person will also tell the story to a larger audience, with credibility.
Controlling the message is not the main challenge. The only way you get more credibility is by giving up this control. We have to teach ourselves to give up control and we have to learn, to teach our clients, the marketers and, particularly, CEOs that control in this environment is first of all not necessary, second, it’s impossible.
If you’re busy controlling the message, then you’re missing all the conversation. And if the brand is a promise, the people who work in the company are responsible for keeping that promise. You need to have your employees as brand ambassadors.
We have to understand that many of the people in the clients’ organization also realize this. Marketers are begging to realize something: that the traditional way of delivering messages changed. That there is a whole environment that they need to manage and that the unidirectional way of bombarding is a paradigm that’s gone.
Holmes also thinks that employee communication is a marketing vital function and anyone who wants to be a good marketer has to be a Public Relations person too.
PR will take over marketing. For me, PR is the discipline of managing a relation between an organization and all the rest, while marketing is only between an organization and the customer. When you bring marketing and PR together, you get public relation
It’s a totally different world that needs recruiting totally different Public Relations people
“How many PR agencies in these rooms have a Chief Data Officer?”, Holmes asked an audience full of PR professionals. Unfortunately, no arm was raised. Holmes strongly believes that PR needs to get people that understand data and analytics, because in the room where you also meet advertising and social media, the person that brings the good data will win any debate nine out of ten times.
“There is a massive amount of data, way cheaper than it used to be, and Public Relations can use data in real time. You can change what you’re doing, literally, today; you change the message, for example, instantly”, Holmes said, adding that the main advantage is that you just can’t change a tranditional advertising campaign overnight, concept and implementation included, but you can adjust your PR strategy on the go.
There is also the context in which advertising, digital and social agencies start to offer PR services. If you add that PR people are much better at telling the facts than at telling the emotional stories, it’s necessary for the PR industry to start recruiting totally different people.
We make everything our clients want and we do that every time. We don’t have enough pride. If it’s the best way to engage an audience, we’ll do that. This ability to be flexible and create all types of content is needed. This is a new world and we are not all prepared for it. We need to start to think about recruiting totally different people
A PR campaign objective should be: increase the number of people advocating for your brand and decrease the number of those telling bad things about your brand. “Advertising doesn’t generate advocacy as PR does. Public Relations can do so much more regarding this aspect than any other discipline. It’s an extraordinary moment to be in the Public relations industry, but also a great responsibility”, added Holmes.