By Meghan Sandor
Social media, collaborative work spaces and the cultural shift towards sustainability have changed how we work, relate and communicate. The things that made a PR firm successful in the 20th century may no longer work in the 21st.
How do we, as PR and communications professionals, not just survive but thrive in this brave new world? How do we navigate the changes in communications work and harness them to our own goals and objectives?
Paul Holmes, journalist and founder-CEO of the Holmes Group PR, describes 10 things every PR professional needs to know in order to ensure the success of their organization in the coming decades. He goes into extensive detail on each point, but I will summarize three of my favourites.
- Meaningful Creativity Successful professionals often think that because they have experience they understand what innovative solutions are needed for the problems of the day. This mentality ignores audience demands, resulting in mere creativity for creativity’s sake and irrelevant products. Like good writing, good creativity should not be self-serving — it should always resonate with your audience. Keep this in mind at all times and you will ensure that your innovations are relevant to actual problems.
- Managing versus Communicating Reputation In the 20th century the driving force behind PR firms and departments was to publicly communicate the reputations of the organizations they represented. Today that driving force has changed to be about first earning and then managing reputation, internally, as well as externally. Anyone working in communications has to have a good understanding of the culture and values of her organization in order to effectively communicate. This is one of the reasons why many companies are developing in-house PR departments. There is no longer a formula for effective communication that is relevant to everyone.
- Recruiting Differently PR firms and departments need professionals who are flexible in their skills, able to design an infographic just as comfortably as they can write a press release or manage a social media handle, depending on what solution the organization needs. A department staffed entirely with writers will be stunted in the solutions it can offer. Instead, today’s PR practitioner needs skills from a range of disciplines — the hard sciences, social sciences and humanities, etc. — and this is what today’s PR firms look for when recruiting.