AgVoice| I am ashamed, to share this with you :Nikhil Dey
If it doesn’t get shares, nobody cares, could have also been the headline to this piece.
I’m troubled because I have to resort to this kind of a headline, to hopefully get readers to click on the link to this story, because that’s what is shaping our actions in the communications space today.
PR is going to be driven by PS or the Potential to Share. It is what media houses, brands, online influencers and bloggers are all being driven by. Getting people to click on their link, and share their content is what makes commercial sense in this business.
The happy glow when your post gets over a hundred likes and lots of nice comments. The nagging worry when your post seems to evoke no reaction and you wonder - Does no one care? This basic human trait, to want to be recognized, heard and valued coupled with the way the economics of the online platforms work make for the imperfect combination where anything that gets the click rules supreme.
The truth is often the victim in this game because speed to publish becomes so critical to get the eyeballs. Publish first and ask questions later, is the new normal. Correcting a wrong story is a thing of the past, updating it as new facts and points of view emerge is the future (unfortunately in this new world, the original wrong version will still live on). In-fact the update, which is usually added at the end of the story, only serves to draw more attention to the original (often wrong) version.
What does this means for the Public Relations profession?
1. Self-Publishing will grow in importance
2. Online Influencer Engagement will see an upswing
3. Issue and Crisis communication will be a regular affair
Self-Publishing: In an attempt to frame the narrative and get the “right version” of the story out brands and corporates will discover that self-publishing has many merits. This means that new skill sets and team structures will emerge. Corporate Communication teams will set up in-house editorial teams and Public Relations Agencies will create new centers of expertise that can help clients tell their stories not just through the written word but also through video and other visual mediums like info-graphics, which are growing in popularity.
A few examples that I have recently been exposed to from our client base are Flipkart, GE and Royal Enfield, where each have found different ways to build their self publishing capabilities. Flipkart stories, which is their own story telling platform https://stories.flipkart.com, is one route to follow. GE in partnership with Quartz https://qz.com/234178/how-ge-is-generating-energy-for-india-through-innovation/and Moneycontrol https://www.moneycontrol.com/gestepahead/
has co-created platforms for sponsored content. While Royal Enfield has done both, but most recently unveiled their new offering the Himalayan through a blog on TOI.com and then a tweet by Siddhartha Lal on https://twitter.com/sidlal/status/690138679399047168
Online Influencer Engagement: Getting a third party to weigh in to advocate a point of view is not new, but what has changed is who these thought leaders are. In addition to having an informed and relevant opinion, it is now also about their online reach and influence. To cite a recent example from the technology space, the entire debate around net neutrality in India had many voices, but without doubt one of the online influencers who was at the center of this conversation was Nikhil Pahwa @Nixxin, the founder of @medianama. Similarly in the fashion and lifestyle space there are a set of online personalities like @MissMalini, whose voice matters and the PR professional of tomorrow needs to find ways to be able to engage with these online influencers as adroitly as they do with editors of newspapers because todays tweet influences tomorrows headline.
Issue and Crisis communication: is now an every day affair. The size and scale may vary, but an enhanced level of preparedness and an always-on PR team that is equipped to quickly swing into action is a must. A clear trend is emerging where companies are creating mechanisms to listen to what’s being said about them and their industry on a 24x7 basis and investing time in training their teams on how to respond. The ‘need for speed’ in publishing has also necessitated the ‘need for speed’ in responding.
One of the reasons we set up the GBM Live! Newsroom was to be better prepared to help our clients navigate this new environment. Listening and responding real time, generating creative content and finding innovative ways to distribute the same has to become second nature for every PR professional. To do all of this requires new skill sets, new technologies and new mind-sets.
If you’re asking, “Are these good things or bad for the industry?” I think that question misses the point. Like them or not they are here to stay. Our aim is to find ways to navigate through the cloud of too much content and the haze of misinformation, telling true stories that people genuinely care about.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way of Adgully