Earlier this week, my first guest blog post focused on the evolution of PR and how the changing landscape means more dollars than ever are being allocated to PR budgets. Later in the week, my second post focused on talent and how a newfound appreciation for the merits and importance of PR is driving the best and the brightest to the industry.
But what happens when you pull those two themes together?
Usually, it means that some disruptive technology has been created that changes how we live and work. Silicon Valley has always represented what can happen when you bring together capital and intellect – Apple, Microsoft, dotcoms, Facebook, LinkedIn, the list goes on and on. Wall Street, too, where algorithms that are increasingly becoming bigger, better, and more complex control the majority of stock trades, and investment banks are hiring more math Ph.D.s than they are MBAs.
In the advertising world, the right combination of money and brainpower has meant the advent of technologies that are helping CMOs, CEOs, and CFOs better determine, with actual quantitative fact, how effective their campaigns are. It's certainly where my company is spending a lot of time and resources these days.
The complications are enormous in PR, where constant attention is paid to who and what is influencing reputation. In the past, influence on reputation was fairly easy to pinpoint and it typically centered on a set of journalists. The effective PR professional could manage influence through strong media relationships and a good set of messages aimed directly at the target group.
Today, however, the job's not so simple. Influence can come in many forms and across many categories. A disastrous product launch can come as the result of a misinformed tweet, not just a misinformed article in The New York Times.
As a result, PR practitioners need technologies that can help them determine centers of influence and where attention should be paid, much like algorithms help hedge fund managers uncover good investment strategies. The right mix of capital and intellect can make the difference. Smart, nimble PR firms need financial backing to help them innovate. At the same time, the best PR firms will invest in their people – they will shun churn and focus on cultivating and building stars who can deliver fresh new thinking and new approaches.
This approach will have enormous and exciting implications for the industry. Who knows, maybe the next big innovation will come out of the PR industry.
Miles Nadal is founder, chairman, and CEO of MDC Partners.