The future of PR in City firms

Is PR an art or a science? With a plethora of publishing platforms created in the past five years, combined with instant access to ROIs and the monitoring of shared content, one would point to this technology making our profession more scientific than ever before, writes Doug Keighley.

Trusted media no longer have a monopoly on opinion forming, argues Doug Keighley
Trusted media no longer have a monopoly on opinion forming, argues Doug Keighley
Using LinkedIn, b2b professionals who have never met can now connect instantly and share ideas with one another in a way not thought possible only six years ago.

Undoubtedly the landscape has changed, but not just for PRs. Journalists and traditional media outlets too have seen their business models fundamentally altered, almost overnight. 

Greg Dyke pointed to the fact that the circulation of every national newspaper had dropped 40 per cent in the past ten years. 

However, at the same meet, Andrew Neil countered with the observation that to count the print circulation of the British press was the equivalent of "counting steam passenger numbers in the age of electrical engines."

He added that the reach of UK media has never been bigger, but the challenge for newspapers was to reinvent their business models and use technology to deliver packaged content people are willing to pay for. Already the traditional London trade press are moving away from just reporting news and are now selling access to libraries of relevant market intelligence on a subscription basis. 

Professional services staff are paying for this information and are ultimately maintaining a safer future for British journalism.

Digitalisation has forced companies to use many more distribution channels and social media tools for their messaging. 

However, when it comes to influence and impact, professional services firms still default to engaging with the most influential traditional media brands. 

Trusted media no longer have a monopoly on opinion forming. They are just one – albeit influential – route to market.

Even in a new digital age the traditional communication skills still matter most. 

Creating content that gets traction requires storytelling and distribution abilities, core skills that are integral to any PR practitioner. 

Deep relationships that build lasting trust are the cornerstone of the profession too.

A good in-house professional will have the ear of senior people while also being able to hound out news stories from the most unlikely of sources. 

Digital platforms are therefore just channels, ones that need constant creative input from both professional services workers at the coal face and from their marketing gurus. 

Creativity comes from the fusion of these two – sometimes differing – forces.

It is a brave new digital world, but PR as an art is still very much guided by the traditional values of deep relationships, trust and clarity. 

Doug Keighley is a PR and a former news manager with Gorkana

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