Future of PR: How corporate communications and the industry landscape are driving innovation and change

Photo courtesy of Amy Shanler

Photo courtesy of Amy Shanler











Data, technology, and the changing role of the communications professional were some of the hot topics this morning as the Publicity Club brought together a group of panelists for a conversation on the future of PR. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation with Seth Ulinski of Technology Business Research, Mark Stephenson of Philips North America, Ed Cafasso of WinnCompanies, and Jeff Dillow of Hollywood Public Relations.

Technology runs the world

Technology is changing the communications landscape. As customers’ attention spans are shortening – from the 12 seconds of a Millenial to the 8 seconds of a Gen Z– we are becoming a “sound bite world” Dillow reflects. This means that the mediums we use are changing and video is increasingly in demand.

CRM is being used outside of new business development to keep track of customer databases as well as track client communications. The panelists predict the use of CRM will only increase as we move into the next few years.

Social media roles are still finding their home in the space between marketing and communications, but one thing is clear: brands that are successful on social have developed authentic personas and use the platform to engage and interact with their customers.

Press releases are no long the way to reach reporters, and media is no longer even the #1 target. Now everyone is a publisher. Your customers, your employees, your community members – they all have computers, phones, and cameras. They can all have influence, so your messaging must be consistent, and you must learn to create your own media explains Stephenson.

What is life without data?

Communications is becoming a data-driven industry, but it is not enough to just have data. Knowing what the data means and whether or not you have enough information to draw real conclusions is crucial. This means that successful communications teams will put resources towards necessary analytics.

According to Cafasso, the best investment is to spend money on understanding who your customers are, where they spend their time, and how they are finding you. This helps not only the communications department, but the entire organization that is looking to better understand and target these customer.

Defining the PR role

It is no secret that the role of the communications professional is changing. The convergence of PR and marketing has grown since the crash of 2008, so professionals had to learn to wear multiple hats. While specialists are important for more technical roles, it is crucial to have individuals who have a working knowledge of all aspects of communications.

Moving forward, there will be an increased concentration on internal communications and empowering champions within your organization. This cross-functional use of communications will drive employee acquisition, engagement, and retention. That being said, the root of PR and the skill set needed remains the same: successful professionals continue to be strong relationship builders who are able to create and promote consistent messages.