Technology is a double-edged blade for major industries and their public relations. New technology disrupts and often distorts public perception of a product or brand. In the old days, newspapers, ordinary mail and “film at 11” were the mainstay. These kept the period between public engagement and production at fairly regular intervals. This meant mistakes or successes were there to embarrass or shine for the long haul.
But in the present, these older media forms have given way to digital media. Nowadays, industry news is a continuous torrent of soundbites, tweets, social media trends and blog posts.
Today’s world is much different for communicators suited to the professional communication world. New technology may disrupt and hinder the old ways of correspondence, but now messages are often more accurate. Now a PR pro can get the effectiveness of content strategies almost immediately.
New World PR: Advice From the Auto Industry
Three major communications professionals interviewed recently in Autoline This Week. Tony Cervone, SVP-Global Communications, General Motors; Stuart Schorr, VP Communications & Public Affairs-Jaguar Land Rover North America, and Chris Hosford, Executive Director-Corporate Communications, Hyundai Motor America. They may work at competing automakers, but their strategies are closely related.
Before the digital age PR pros had but a few extremely high-profile media outlets. Developing reliable, trusted relationships with journalists took extended, concerted effort. These days we have something called “citizen journalists.” For every old-school newspaper journalist, there are many who may lack official endorsement. Yet, since they carry a massive audience in followers and subscribers, they cannot be ignored.
After interviewing with corporate executives in the old days, PR professionals had to wait. They often waited until the newspaper released their decision the next day to learn how it went. Now a consulting client usually tweets or posts their decision within hours of interviewing potential representatives.
Different Product, Different Media Outlet
Media is also specialized. Instead of inviting the entirety of business-related press to product or model launches, industries of every type can be more selective. Today, different kinds of products call for different types of media attention.
The old morning routine called for a major review of general media coverage on a clip sheet, to see what the world thought of a company. Now the need to track media coverage is nearly continuous. One PR manager claims he spends twenty times as much time monitoring the media in the digital age as he did in the good old analogue ones.
To learn the practical effects of a company’s message in the PR marketplace, professionals used to spend days or weeks compiling news stories about their company. This was not an efficient or easy task. Now companies rely on automatic data aggregation through tools like Google Analytics. With such tools they can see if, when, and how their message is connecting to the public. Assumptions and blind guess-and-check strategies are now replaced with social media tactics and trending search terms.
How Marketing and Communication Became Friends
In all, integrated marketing is the essential difference. Thanks to this advancement in marketing technology, the communications department works with the marketing department, instead of against one another. For communications and marketing, the dull days of sitting around with the same engineering or financial problems. In their place is a never-ending adventure delving into every aspect of the company.
Communications and PR have forever changed as a result of digital and integrated marketing. But most professionals welcome the change of pace. Now, each new job is a chance to don the private investigator cap and set to work for a company they love promoting.