By now you would probably have heard – and rightly so – that the 2014 edition of the Global PR Summit was a huge success. This international conference – this year’s being the third in the series – is organized and hosted annually by Paul Holmes, CEO and Publisher of ‘The Holmes Report’ – arguably the most comprehensive and authoritative report on PR practice globally.
Held in the beautiful sunshine city of Miami, Florida, it was a very impressive assemblage of some of the best minds in the PR business from all over the world, gathered to share and compare notes on the latest developments and trends in global PR practice.
It was four-and-a-half days of insightful presentations, breath-taking case studies and stimulating perspectives on the business, that began with the Independent PR Firm Forum on the first day and built up to a fun-filled, grand finale of a half-day Crisis Management simulation session.
I was attending for the very first time and for me it was well worth all the time, money and effort invested. The following are 5 great learning points that I took away from that experience:
# No. 1 : It’s Time For PR To Take The Lead
As the media landscape becomes increasingly fragmented and consumer habits and information consumption patterns evolve, communication has become more social and content-driven. The contemporary consumer engagement paradigm places him/her at the epicenter of the brand conversation. More important today is what the consumer is saying about the brand, and interesting content as well as creative story telling both help to capture his/her attention and interest. Thanks to social media, no longer is creativity in communication the exclusive preserve of advertising agencies, some of whom now choose to go by the exotic description of ‘creative’ agencies.
PR is now, more than ever, better positioned and equipped to take the lead role in the communication process. It is left to us practitioners to recognize this opportunity and seize it, by the way we approach our clients’ briefs and the creativity we bring to bear in delivering effective solutions and measurable outcomes for their marketing communication and reputation management needs.
# No. 2: You Can Never Have Enough Of Research
Research plays a pivotal role in the communication process, as an invaluable input at both ends of the value chain. At the one end, it throws up data, which can be analyzed to extract valuable consumer insights that drive creative and effective messaging. At the other, it provides the metrics for evaluating campaign outcomes.
The Global PR Summit featured quite a number of research reports, from those that were independently commissioned as ombudsman projects, to others that were conducted in support of specific campaigns. And in every instance, it was evident how the data and insights obtained from research helped shape the strategies and messages that produced widely successful and acclaimed PR campaigns in various countries around the world.
# No. 3: Gaming – An Emerging Platform For Engaging Millennials
The millennials – generally described as that segment of the population aged between 18 and 34 – today constitute a very important consumer demographic block, that demands the special attention and interest of communication experts, especially given their somewhat ‘natural’ affinity with technology.
Just to give you an idea of how significant these ‘digital natives’ are: in my country Nigeria millennials account for about 70% of the total population today. You ignore such a huge segment of the market at your peril.
I had always known music and sports to be strong platforms for engaging with millennials. The revelation for me at the Global PR Summit was gaming. Yes, gaming. I had never before thought of how much gaming – of different and diverse types, from video games to betting – had become such an increasingly important part of the lives of these young people, worldwide. Some children have been known to get hooked on it from as early as two years old! The research results were simply outstanding. It should be interesting to find out just how pervasively this fever has caught on among the millennials here in Nigeria.
So there you have it – yet another ‘new’ ground for us PR people to break, as we seek more effective ways of capturing the attention of critical target audiences in our campaigns.
# No. 4: ‘It’s Not What You Say, It’s What The Consumer Hears’
The quote above sums up the very interesting presentation by the inimitable Dr. Frank Luntz. It speaks to our propensity as communication specialists to think that we know what the consumer wants to hear, and to proceed to act accordingly. Luntz’s position is that consumers only respond to content and information that is interesting to them, that focuses on their lives and problems. He argues that our choice of words and tone greatly influence the way that consumers react to messages that we put out to them.
To put it rather bluntly: because of the array of choices available today’s consumer consumes information practically on his/her own terms.
# No. 5: ‘PR Is Changing. Are You?’
Again, I confess that this quote is not originally mine. I actually lifted it off the corporate brochure of one of the PR firms that was represented at the Summit. But it aptly sums up the key learnings from the 2014 edition of the Global PR Summit.
The media landscape is changing rapidly, and this is inevitably impacting communication in general, and PR, perhaps more than any other communication function. The PR professional who will thrive today is one who is abreast of this change, and is adapting accordingly.