5 ways we’re changing the PR conversation

Editor’s Note:

The following post is the result of over a year’s worth of conversations between AirPR’s CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CTO Raj Sathyamurthi, data scientist Patrick Liang, and myself.

Additionally, many of the reflections and ideas in the post have been lifted from various conversations with our informal “braintrust” which includes: Jenny Farrelly, Bill Tancer, Matthew Stotts, Michael Coren, Sabrina Horn, Paul Wilke, Peter Himler, and Geoffrey Moore. 

This is not a press release, it’s not a white paper, and it’s not a sales pitch. It’s our position statement derived from our passion for PR innovation.

We hope you enjoy…and that you will join the conversation.

Ever-changing technology solutions for the marketing and public relations industries are about as prevalent as the steady barrage of superfluous information touting young stars’ twerking habits, DUIs, and disastrous love lives.

And if you think about it, therein lies the issue. Or in more direct terms: the problem; and problems beg solutions.

As technological advancement has certainly democratized certain aspects of business and entrepreneurship, it has also sprung into being a fire hose of sound bites, data points, and content pieces that require an organizational infrastructure to bear its weight…in gigabytes.

Conversations, once reserved for private gatherings with loved ones, friends, and family members, are now open to public commentary, scrutiny, and discourse via social media distribution channels. The once, somewhat monopolizing, traditional media industry has been rocked to its core. It has been forced to re-focus strategies with an eye toward digital monetization fueled by “next gen” human behavior where consumers now see [over]sharing as a civic duty as much as a social construct.

From an opportunity standpoint, it makes perfect sense why tech-savvy innovators look at an industry like marketing communications (for sake of example let’s put PR in this bucket) and think: “Holy shit, there’s a problem that could use some fixin’.”

Likewise, from the industry’s standpoint, it makes perfect sense why executive level communicators on down to boutique PR consultancy owners think: “Holy shit, our job just quadrupled in scope.”

The result?

Well, when you crack open global economies, flatten the world, and accelerate the exchange of information and communication distribution using technology as a driver, most anything can happen:

Election of the first African-American, Hawaiian, basketball-loving, non-philandering U.S. President.

2008 financial meltdown.

Arab Spring.

And let us not forget: Justin Bieber’s ascension from teen Prince of Pop to post-pubescent King of Prickdom. In real-time.

The point?

Well, for starters, just like the basic laws of supply and demand, so goes Newton’s third law of motion: “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

We reach a tipping point, if you will, where the fire hose becomes too fast and furious as to be rendered obsolete. We become forced to recede; we push back, left crippled by the very thing we built to bring us one step closer to [insert your ideal here].

Intimacy.

Connection.

Better education.

Wealth.

World peace.

Ending poverty.

The truth: we think we want more, but what we really want is more quality; we want to make informed decisions based on trusted sources and useful pieces of information.

All this is to say…the PR industry, in particular, stands at an interesting inflection point; one where evolution, expansion, and yes, technological innovation are necessary for its survival.

Yet the current tools and platforms and digital methods have reached a saturation point. We no longer need to ruminate on the what. We know this stuff. It’s there for us to see. As in:

What are the publications and outlets?

What are the inputs and desired outcomes?

What is being said about us?

What are the best social media tools?

No, no – that part is clear. We have all the databases, social listening tools, and Google Alerts we could ever want. Too many perhaps?

The next logical question is: what is the ultimate value of all this effort?

Because as anyone in PR knows  – when done well, it is a tremendous amount of effort.

For every action we take, what is the opposite and equal reaction that gives us better insight and doesn’t thrust us into the abyss of never-ending information flow? A flow that leaves us drained, without solid answers, and saying “ahh, hell, screw it all.”

Or, if you’re an executive making decisions about how to spend your money: “I can’t see the assumptive value of PR based on any solid metrics, so I’m going to reduce the budget or scrap it all together even though I know it’s probably valuable in some way.”

From this, we derive a line of questioning that pushes us beyond the PR chasm:

What should we consider valuable?

Who is influential and why?

Who should we really listen to?

Who are the competitors targeting and should we do that too?

And…how are people responding and perceiving my brand?

All of course, based on actual data – both qualitative and quantitative.

Then, the ultimate question: where should my efforts and resources be allocated in the future? Ahh, yes. Prediction.

This week, and for the next several weeks, we are embarking on an important conversation about PR, while revealing our next product which will push the envelope and (we hope) ignite an enlightening conversation about the value of PR.

We’ve been building this product for nearly two years. Watching, listening, and talking to some of the most influential communicators, marketers, journalists, technologists, and online behaviorists across the globe…and we’re so darn excited we can hardly contain ourselves.

If you believe in PR and its qualitative value, but understand that without standardized metrics the industry will never fully be justified in its “ask,” then we hope you will join the conversation.

Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum; or when “experts” wax poetic about disruption, or problem solving, or shoulda coulda woulda this and that.

Change happens when influential, thoughtful, innovative people – passionate about shifting a conversation, an industry, and their world in some meaningful way – connect with each other and push forward. Together. Against an opposing force.

AirPR Founding TeamHere are 5 ways we are changing the PR conversation, and we’d love to hear your thoughts:

#1 – PR is ripe for “big data” solutions (think analytics) to drive more effective and efficient communications strategies.

#2 – PR must be woven into the fabric of emerging and established organizations.

#3 – PR requires a seat at the table in order to be successful.

#4 – PR is both pro-active and re-active in nature, both of which require relevant and useful data. 

#5 – PR’s definition is expanding and includes: media relations, social media, content marketing, thought leadership strategies, product testing/feedback, customer engagement strategies, and influencer relations.

Please share your thoughts @AirPR

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