PR has traditionally been about access to influencers and reaching our target audiences through those influencers. Much of this work involved one-way endeavors where we pushed information out to the media. Today, engaging our target audiences and having direct conversations with them is paramount to successful PR. As a result, the PR pro now frequently plays the role of influencer.
We are no longer behind-the-scenes media consultants. PR professionals have become “conversation consultants.” This fundamental shift influences the type of people we hire and the skills we develop within our organizations and ourselves. We need to open our minds and bring different kinds of people into our industry -- those passionate about communicating, not just influencing communications. This essential and highly sought-after quality is found in people who don’t differentiate between their work persona and their after-hours persona. And these lines will continue to blur as people adopt a fully integrated digital lifestyle.
The ability for anyone to create a digital footprint – to establish oneself as an expert across all channels – has becoming increasingly central to the success of PR professionals. The most compelling voices online – from bloggers and journalists to consumers and increasingly, PR people – are those that are both distinct and active. In order to succeed as influencers in the digital age, all PR professionals will need to develop a compelling, active way to stand out from the crowd.
Indeed, it’s not all about who you know anymore—it’s the strength of your own voice.
Stephanie Marchesi, president, Cohn & Wolfe New York