Consumer expectations and modern media are evolving and becoming more sophisticated at a frantic pace. The world of public relations and corporate communications is changing along with them, though not always keeping up. Forward-looking professionals in these fields who can see what’s changing can take advantage of the chaos to get the attention of public relations recruiters, grow their careers and provide more value to their employers.
If you haven’t been paying close attention over the last few years, it’s easy to have lost sight of the major trends that are shaping modern PR. As marketing communications recruiters, here are some of the emerging traits we’re seeing clients looking for from their communications candidates. Develop an expertise in one or more of these categories to secure your career’s future and get access to as many job opportunities as possible.
Analytics and Data Management
A dearth of analytics skills causes the largest talent gap in all of marketing.
The PR and communications disciplines have never been especially analytically-oriented, and universities rarely emphasize statistical educations for students in these fields.
However, ability to handle data and glean insights from it is quickly becoming an essential part of any complete modern PR operation. With all the data now available, along with new analytics tools and techniques, it’s possible to get some invaluable insights to your audience, what they’re talking about, and how effective your communications efforts are.
Marketing and communication experts are under more and more pressure to measure, track and demonstrate their contribution to the business. That also puts you in a better position to study the market, test PR strategies, and optimize your work over time for better ROI. If you’re one of the relatively few analytically-adept communications experts, you should have little problem getting attention from PR recruiters.
Managing Influencer and Thought Leader Relationships
The traditional mass media PR professionals have partnered with so many years have slowly been losing authority and influence. General trust in mass media is at an all-time low. Meanwhile, an increasingly fragmented media landscape means consumers have more alternatives than ever.
“Influencers” and thought leaders have risen to take the place of traditional channels in the hearts and minds of many consumers. These individuals have developed authoritative voices on certain subjects in specific, often very niche, communities. They wield tremendous power over how their followers consider brands and products.
Earning the favor of these key influencers can be extremely lucrative. But it’s not always easy, and requires a sensitive touch combined with a thorough understanding of the relevant online communities. You’re not just securing a simple celebrity endorsement. Successful communications professionals will have to develop relationships and create customized content and advertising arrangements.
Influencer-brand relationships, at least as they’re understood online today, are a relatively new concept. If you opt to move your career further into this field, it’s important to stay on top of relevant regulations and disclosure best practices as they continue to evolve.
Online Reputation Management
The first place many consumers look when making a purchase decision is online reviews. Customers are more empowered than ever to leave feedback on product quality and experience. Criticism and praise on an anonymous review site like Yelp dramatically influences the way the public perceives an organization.
This poses tremendous opportunity–and great challenges–to digitally-savvy communications professionals. Encouraging satisfied customers to share their stories is difficult, but extremely rewarding. Similarly, strategically responding to negative reviews will take edge off or even convert an unhappy customer into a loyal brand advocate, as Jason’s Deli recently did to me.
Reputation management online requires a very sensitive hand and extreme emotional intelligence. A poor response can exaggerate a problem. Begging your customers for positive review reflects poorly on your brand. And you must be sure to stay on the right side of any regulations and avoid unscrupulous review manipulation. But if you can navigate all those challenges, you become a valuable asset to any brand that relies heavily on online review.
PR Crisis Aversion
In today’s viral environment, bad news spreads like wildfire. Even something relatively minor can get blown out of proportion. In the blink of an eye you can have thousands of angry tweeters calling for your head. It takes a special kind of mental resilience and public empathy to cut off the cycle of negative feedback and retake control of the narrative.
The ability to quickly build and execute a strategy to manage these brand emergencies becomes increasingly valuable as they grow in frequency. They typically need a broad, multi-pronged approach that requires a strong mind for multichannel marketing. You’ll have to be able to plan for almost anything–and be able to drastically change those plans when the unexpected inevitably happens. If that sounds like something you’re ready to handle, consider moving your career towards putting out major brand fires.