The five qualities that define PR today

New technologies, social media, consumer trends, fluctuating levels of trust, and - in healthcare - patient empowerment have all contributed to the evolution of brand marketing in the past few years.

New technologies, social media, consumer trends, fluctuating levels of trust, and - in healthcare - patient empowerment have all contributed to the evolution of brand marketing in the past few years. 

Fortunately, PR has continuously adapted and, with it, so have the goals we set for ourselves and the way we manage expectations. This got me thinking about what I would consider PR “currency” in today's communications environment.

Content trumps volume: Back in the day, we'd count clips and circulation figures, multiply by 2.5 to accommodate for readership, and present clients with Yellow Pages-sized clip books to demonstrate success. While content was always important, today we aim higher on message delivery and narrower on the target audience.    

Invitation, not imposition: Among the many reasons to admire Nike is the company's ability to figure out ways to be invited into the worlds of its customers versus imposing the brand purely on the basis of its size and “footprint.” The lesson learned is there's a warmer welcome for a brand's message when you're invited in rather than when you gate crash.

Context: A few years ago, we held a heart-healthy screening event in Chicago to engage the local Hispanic population. After due diligence, we recommended holding the program at a laundromat. I'm talking the World's Largest Laundromat, a beacon of the local Spanish-speaking community and a place where families and people of all ages congregate for much more than the pursuit of clean clothes. It took no small amount of convincing, but the screening took place and was the most impactful due in large part to the comfort, familiarity, and trust participants felt in the venue.

Transparency:  For me, transparency has nothing to do with legal and regulatory review or whether a company is adventurous or risk-averse in its communications. Rather, it is about truth, language, and timing.  

Impact on everyday lives: This is the holy grail, regardless of the channel used. Does what we've created or written, staged, or disseminated reflect an understanding of our audience, and have we translated that into communications that tells the audience something new and worthwhile and, therefore, enhanced their daily lives?  And if so, that's currency.

Sandra Stahl is a partner at Jacobstahl.

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