I cringe every time campaign season rolls around. The volume of ads, the pre and post hype that surround each debate. I get knots in my stomach not only because of what was said but inevitably I will hear someone say it’s all hype, spin, distortion and PR. For many on the outside of our industry and for some inside the newsrooms the impression of PR is that it lives in a journalistic underworld, a dark place where ethics and the pursuit of truth are nowhere to be found.
Having spent five years as a television journalist, the majority of my career has been in the PR profession alongside nonprofits, agency and corporate marketing communication teams. I can unequivocally say the PR profession is far from the dark side as it is filled with tremendous light and transparency. Those of us who have elected to be in the PR profession are trusted with an enormous responsibility that calls us to be passionate storytellers of an organizations mission and to tangibly help the brand voice and personality come alive. Our role often involves taking complex subject matters and translating it into meaningful and relatable messages for the media and the public. There is a growing convergence of true integrated collaboration with all the disciplines; communication, marketing, advertising and public relations and it’s exciting times to be in the PR profession
As trust in big corporations continues to fall, the appeal of telling stories that humanize a company has increased. People seek meaning in their lives and are looking for brands that can help fulfill that need. Visionary organizations market something that is much more than compelling that what they have to sell; products or services, features, pricing or benefits. They position a vision for something more meaningful that we can all can get behind. Visionary brands make a switch from selling the product or service to selling something more optimistic that will benefit us all and at the same time drives business success.
Sophisticated consumers have emerged—both young and old and the demand for content is 24/7. To engage audiences, organizations are realizing they need to create a culture of storytelling that curates rich editorial content that can be spread across paid, earned and owned media. Stories need to be timely, relevant and authentic in this new era. In a heartbeat, traditional and social media opens wide the opportunity to knock back any corporate spin, falsehood or lie. It starts with a clear intention of what success really means and a simple question, ‘how is the world a better place if the organization or brand succeeds?’ Is the vision compelling enough that others will get behind the idea or that those inside could stand together with pride and tell the world what they stand for?
Since I started my career in the broadcast news world I’m a bit biased when it comes to the impact of a well done video. It’s been said that facts tell, but stories sell and video seems to be one of the most effective tactics when it comes to storytelling.
It seems the entire digital ecosystem (paid, earned and owned media) is competing to deliver high quality video and the play button seems to be taking center stage as the most compelling call to action. There’s no shortage of evidence that video is the most engaging and is more widely shared as the consistent metric that increases click through rates and digital conversions. Simply put video storytelling is a driver of high engagement.
Storytelling and audience persuasion have always been core strengths of PR, and our role and the work we are doing has grown considerably in scope and the field is fast becoming an all encompassing practice. As technology makes integrated communication seamless and more powerful, the role of the skilled PR counselor will be even more critical to develop content strategies in conjunction with laser sharp execution on tactics that optimize timing, audiences, tools and channels.
It’s a privilege to steward a story and I’m humbled by the opportunities that have evolved over the last 20 years in the PR profession and am even more passionate about what the future holds. The progression of brand journalism is here to stay and is the new marketing imperative. The PR profession is aligned beautifully to bring a holistic view to the table and to lead strategy, development and execution on robust content marketing and asset creation. PR excels in finding the best ways to get those authentic brand stories out to your audiences and turn your story into a lasting narrative.