As we dive into January, there is no shortage of predictions about the ‘next big thing for 2018’, it’s easy to be seduced by the next new topic or theme from which you can gain a competitive edge in your industry. Many have hooked onto AI and IoT during 2017. Both are relatively new consumer concepts which are well known within the technology world but are only now coming of age in the mainstream, heralding change and disruption – both good and bad – to established industries and sectors. What about for PR?
With communication channels multiplying every day – from Instagram and Snapchat to KiK – and technology innovations transforming the way we live and become engaged and/or entertained – such as push notification and chatbots, those not living and breathing PR and communications could well be imagining that our industry is turning itself upside down to be relevant today, tomorrow and in the future.
But is this really true, or are people just jumping on a bandwagon? For us, the key element at the heart of outstanding communications remains unwaveringly constant – the need for intelligent creativity. Don’t let the channel become your strategy (read more about this soon). Great communications start with the core fundamental messages and the creative concept to get that message noticed out there – to ensure you are reaching, attracting and resonating with your target audience.
So what are the main factors in making this work?
Boldness and confidence: Sharon Horgan remains an inspiration to many of us Fireworkers, and a recent article talking about ‘Pushy Cows’ reminded us never to be forget the importance of confidence! While we’re not talking here about the Women of Tomorrow, it inspired us to align her comments to the PR and Communications of Tomorrow. Being bold and tenacious around your creative ideas is critical in winning the hearts and minds of clients and then – fundamentally – with the influencers, whether these are bloggers, media, industry bodies or analysts.
Credibility: It’s easier to be confident when you’ve got some success under your belt. But you don’t have to have a track record – it’s about being informed. Getting to this can be as simple as testing new concepts. With our PR roots firmly in technology, we try to embrace the latest developments wherever we can. However, with the pace of change, we’re constantly trying out new methods to check if there’s a better way to engage, such as new bite-sized visual concepts, and getting feedback from small focus groups. That way we’re not ignoring the new, but equally not in danger of allowing things to be over-hyped.
Creative: last but not least, is (intelligent) creativity. Effective audience engagement is about having genuine empathy for those you’re targeting, it’s about stepping into their shoes and trying to understand their challenges, pain points and motivations. Bringing insight and understanding will help to drive a strong connection via messages that are thought-provoking and touch audiences. Of course, the products and services have to deliver too. But for those brands who invest in creative campaign ideas that are communicated in novel ways, they are more likely to win the hearts and minds of their audiences.
So, although we’re all for embracing the new to ensure ideas and concepts are fresh and relevant, we think 2018 will be the year of intelligent creativity. Companies need communication partners that they can trust to keep their brand ahead of their competitors. Jumping on the latest band-wagon might make some headlines for the PR companies but is unlikely to do what is needed for their clients – raise brand awareness and understanding, drive sales and funding, and fundamentally deliver a strong bottom line.