Tough times mean greater value for comms and earned media

A new year loomed over the horizon indecently quickly. It’s hard to believe 2017 has come and gone already.

But it has. And what a tumultuous year it was in politics, society, media, and communications.

It was a year of populist social movements, scrutiny from President Donald Trump and the new administration, ever-present domestic and international terrorist threats, the exposure of cultures of sexual harassment in the workplace, and the new reality of social media storms that engulfed brands, reputations, and individuals.

In-house pros found their skills more in demand as companies operated in a febrile environment.

The chief comms officer was no longer brought in to publicize feel-good company initiatives. CEOs and the C-suite relied on their comms function from the get-go for internal PR, reputation issues, crises, and top-level business and organizational strategy.

On the agency side, it was tough, especially within holding companies. Despite some positive economic factors, client companies were cautious and kept their checkbooks closed until late in the year.

There are also numerous other players recognizing the value and impact of PR — earned media is no longer the sole jurisdiction of PR firms.

Few big agency executives will be sad to see the back of 2017. And, unfortunately, I see no immediate relief on the horizon in 2018.

But the value of strategic comms and earned media in a smart mix with shared, owned, and paid has never been higher. Let’s remember that through any tough times ahead.

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