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Social media have shaken up the PR industry beyond recognition. In fact, social media have caused the first and only real PR revolution in the industry’s more than 100 years of history.
Actually, without the opportunity to make something go viral, social media would be nothing more than the good old Web 1.0.
After twenty successful years in journalism, I left it, vividly remembering that You can achieve a lot with journalism, but you should know exactly when to quit.
As already noted, the only legitimate way for a PR representative to pay media would be if you purchase content that is clearly marked as paid or sponsored.
At first glance, it might seem as though the death of the press release was slightly exaggerated. After all, press releases are still in circulation.
At first glance, total transparency, fast communication, and the unrestricted use of media presuppose a fertile ground for manipulation, which may be one reason the world is becoming so cautious. But transparency doesn`t have that much to do directly and specifically with manipulation.
Brands are no longer the property of the companies, but of the consumers, and consumer power over brands is enormous.
By definition, however, PR should be trying to achieve virality for its stories - that's one of its goals.
Different social media networks are used for different communication to the extent that the written word still prevails over visuals. However, in the future, it will be other way around.
Each of the three parties might have its arguments, but it is my strong conviction that the PR business will emerge on top in this future merger of the three industries.
Even in the age of the social media revolution, PR's essence remains the same as always: honesty, integrity, and preparedness to react.
First of all, the word newspaper doesn't really exist anymore, because the first part, news, is gone from it. What's left is only paper.
For years now, PR has been developing services in the era of social media that cover more and more communication needs. That`s the part of the reason why PR will be on top of the future merger of the three industries.
However, in PR, we communicate messages. Going back to one of my original points, if we produce anything, it's news stories. Regardless of what you call your message, it is news. If it doesn't contain news, then you probably aren't doing a very good job.
I have been aware of the undeclared war between PR and advertising ever since I entered this industry more than twenty years ago.
If the PR industry suffers from this negative reputation, it is because many people associate our profession with politicians and business people who use various contrivances and tricks to conceal or whitewash their flaws and wrongdoings.
In 2019 the revolutionary advent of social media has now reached its full swing, and 100 percent of all deeds, thoughts, deals, and acts in our lives are public.
In my view, the image of the modern PR (human), homo PR-icus - that is the person who is nonstop plugged into social media - communicates and debates all the time and thinks creatively about how to reach the right people, the right target readers.
In my work as a PR expert so far, there has never been a case in which we have paid even a single cent for media coverage. Not on our behalf, and not on behalf of any of our clients.
In the same way, when newspapers began to die and social media started its supreme reign, we didn't imagine the risk of fake news.
It requires an understanding that there is no difference between PR and social media anymore. From the point of view of a top-notch PR expert, they have become one and the same thing.
Knowing social media to the tiniest detail is an absolute must for every single PR expert - from the CEO of the large PR corporation to the regular assistant or intern who sits behind a desk and does something on behalf of a client.
Live communication, live contact, and live presentation are becoming increasingly dominants in our lives, let alone in our business. So everything that's not live is doomed to quickly become already known, obsolete, and boring.
Many of us in the PR business, however, feel the change in a very tangible way, because this industry now requires a whole other type of quality, a different way of focusing on things, a different language and way of expression, and an array of other tools, advance preparation being first and foremost. You just have to be hyperprepared for all kinds of situations.
Many things will disappear from each of the three main communications industries so that a new industry can be born. I don`t know what it will be called. It could be named social relations.
Modern-day consumer awareness has reached such staggering levels that consumers get to know everything about a certain product and the corporation producing it. If consumers are not informed the same minute about any changes or alterations, they may never purchase your product again.
My global PR revolution thesis will certainly not go down without criticism. The most severe criticism should be expected from the people who don`t know the PR industry. They might say, Revolution? What revolution? Facebook is just out there anyway!
Nevertheless, even though our industries are at war at the moment, the merger of PR, advertising, and digital companies, as already noted, is absolutely inevitable, because clients need full-service communications consultancies.
Nowadays, some 60-70 percent of our clients turn to us as PR consultants - and it seems to be exactly the same everywhere in the world - for two main reasons: crisis management and reputation management.
One of the mightiest features of this revolution that I personally feel every single day is that back in the old days, we used to change over years. Today, we change within a matter of hours.
One of the things which has been and is going to be of key importance before, during, and after the pandemic is total transparency. Thanks to total transparency, business, and life itself, is becoming more ethical, better organized, and make more sense.
Our PR business today has increasingly less in common with the business we used to do just ten years ago, let alone a hundred years ago. Pretty soon, it will look nothing like its former self.
Perhaps the spreading of fake news shouldn`t be criminalized as a felony, but it must be penalized in some way, and there should at least be court trials for that.
Political marketing and PR could be described as elitist to some extent, although again, you have to express and verbalize your messages in the language of the people who are nor part of this elite.
PR experts need to be brilliantly trained and prepared. That's not just good sense - there are very concrete and powerful reasons for that... We used to have between ten or twelve hours to solve a crisis. Now we don't even have ten minutes!
PR is not an elitist industry. Rather, it is an industry for the people it is supposed to reach. If it needs to reach a working class demographic, then PR experts would have to speak their language and know how to speak to them in the most effective manner.
Regardless of how the PR business may have developed over the years, we always used to be a transmission, a sort of bridge, between our clients and their clients.
Regardless of many people`s perceived need to be extracautious in this new age, the rise of transparency caused by the social media revolution is rapidly building a far better world.
Regardless of this forecast, however, we still must take into account the fact that many people used to lack a decent understanding of our profession, and many still do.
Regardless of what is done in the wider communications industry, PR will always be linked to content creation. And that content remains textual, first and foremost.
Social media's almightiness has brought about many things, but the main one is transparency. Total transparency everywhere and for everyone.
Some PR professionals have been slow to grasp the scope of the paradigm shift brought by the social media revolution in our industry. Many who have grasped it have been slow to keep up-to-date with it.
Ten years ago, in order to be able to spread news, you were supposed to have a major in journalism, have a press card, and be called a journalist. Otherwise, you couldn`t. Now, to spread the news, all you need is a social media account.
That's what social media has done to our business. At the same time, it has made the PR industry infinitely more measurable, and much more transparent.
The big issue with newspapers is that there is no one to fund them anymore. Nobody can support them and bear the costs in the new environment of public communications revolutionized by online media and even further by social media.
The main feature and top advantage of social media, which has made it such a powerful instrument in the hands of PR experts, is the ability to share - and especially the intriguing possibility of seeing your post go viral. In that case, your post is so catchy and contagiuos that it spreads like an epidemic and can consequently become a pandemic.
The one-time ubiquitous emblem of classic PR, the press release, has technically been dead for a while now. To be a bit more precise, His Majesty the Press Release has been dying - a relatively slow death, but a death, nonetheless. And there is no coming back. Now we are in the afterlife, thanks to the social media revolution.
The perception of PR agencies as editorial teams in the years of social media revolution is all the more relevant given that traditional media are no longer just endangered species, but are actually going extinct.
The perception of the PR expert as a creative liar is going to die over the next few years. It will dissolve as a notion in the public mindset, because liars simply cannot exist in modern PR life.
The tsunami of social media that has conquered global communications within a few years has swept away privacy, once predominant, and has laid the groundwork for a new world where everything is public - or is rapidly becoming so - and where everything is transparent - or is about to be.
The two main treats of the world of total transparency are its hyper-dynamics (because everything is shifting at a mind-blowing speed) and an immeasurably higher dose of ethics.
There are other classic PR instruments - press conferences, media meetings, business brunches, business conferences, etc. All those are now replaced by posts on social media, and occasionally still by personal meetings with journalists.
Therefore, it makes no sense for advertising to even compete with PR, because advertising is not competitive anymore. PR`s edge clearly rests on creative and strategic services.
This new world of total transparency and the previously unimaginable abundance of data is the level playing field in which only true PR professionals really stand out based on how they can position a client's message in the most efficient and beneficial way.
To a great extent, the PR experts need to know the target consumer, their traits, media consumption habits, preferences, everything.
Today, thanks to the social media revolution, clients actually own media and consequently a platform to express themselves.
Today, the PR business is 100 percent measurable. You can demonstrate with utmost accuracy who read what, when they read it, what gender they are, what education they have, what country they are from - we have all kinds of data to the smallest detail. That, too, is related to the transparency of our business.
Today, we are right there with the social media and hold it in our hands. In my opinion, such change of ownership always means revolution, regardless of its direction.
Visuals are becoming an inseparable part of our work as PR experts. Yet at the end of the day, we, the PR experts, are the people who manage content. We are the masters of content, whether it's textual or visual.
We can’t just say, “This pen is great, and consumers should buy it!” We ought to wrap up this message and create not only a convincing, but an interesting story around it. Here I am, improvising on the spot: A lady dropped her pen in the street, it was raining heavily, and a gentleman picked it up and said, “May I have your number?”
We in the PR industry now hold in our hands new tools for announcing news - and those tools are beyond exciting! These new tools are faster, more reliable, and - what probably matters most - they are interactive.
We, the PR consultants, have in essence turned from consultants into decision-makers, because now decisions have to be made instantaneously. Just because of that one change, the PR business is totally different from what it used to be.
When it comes to social media, a PR professional needs to be literally all over the place and on top of everything. Public relations was never truly an elitist industry, and today it is less so than ever.
While the death of the press release could be construed as more symbolic, the death of the press conference has actually been even more evident and overwhelming for the PR industry in the social media revolution era.
While thousands of people had been aware that newspapers would go extinct, nobody had really imagined certain disturbing developments in the new media, and more specifically in social media.