PR must respond to the needs of the highly informed and highly cynical
1990s consumer, according to Biss Lancaster chairman Graham Lancaster.
Social changes like rising unemployment, the general decline in job
satisfaction and the increase in divorce have all helped to fuel
consumer cynicism Lancaster told the conference.
The creation of empowering bodies like the Consumer’s Association,
regulatory outfits and investigative reporting have also created a
consumer in sharp contrast with the ‘pliant shopper of the 1950s’ said
However, Lancaster added, the new consumer, ‘ever voracious for
information’ and the explosion in consumer media is good news for the
‘We should see all this as a world of opportunity, not as a threat,’ he
‘You’re in a sellers’ market. The skill you have is knowing what type of
coverage you want and where. It is possible to have real influence with
customers and journalists alike. If you understand their needs, their
aspirations, their language, he added.’
Lancaster advised the audience to ‘collude’ with customers and the media
by being honest about the selling process.
‘If you can tune into the mood and language of your customers, then
you’ll find they’ll give you permission to sell to them,’ he said.