The World PR Forum is coming to Melbourne Australia for the first time, and it promises to help PR professionals learn about the latest PR techniques and research in this critically important field. In addition the World PR Forum provides, “a consistent focus on ethics and regulation standards in Global Public Relations and Communication Management present at each of the Forums.”
There are new global challenges to PR that demand collaboration from PR experts committed to fresh thinking and innovation. The World PR Forum will address a variety of topics this year, including “the use of digital and social media in public and stakeholder relations.” This represents just one of many challenges facing PR professionals who will benefit significantly in this evolving industry.
Here are a few ways the PR industry has shifted over the years, driving home the importance of the World PR Forum:
Old PR Tricks Aren’t Working in Cynical Age
With the wider availability of information and the ability to quickly fact-check claims that a company makes, PR professionals need to be especially aware of the cynicism of consumers today. People are bombarded with ads and reports about scandals at banks, in governments, and in a variety of corporations.
For example, The Sydney Morning Herald broke a story about three leading cosmetics companies that have started to test their products on animals again after ceasing the practice due to consumer outrage. The comments below the article alone suggest that consumers aren’t at all surprised that large companies would double back on their pledges.
Lev Janashvili of IR Maven writes for PR Weekly US about the crisis facing PR today: “We still rely on methods and habits of mind that evolved in a world uncomplicated by post-modern anxieties. We and our clients are facing a torrent of discontent, if not open contempt, and we are still trying to dam the flow with the veil of soulless corporate-speak and tricks of the trade that worked in a simpler time. ”
It’s Not Hard to Improve Your PR Effectiveness
One journalism student attended the World PR Forum in Stockholm in 2010 and shared one key takeaway about the interaction of journalists and PR professionals: “Last June, I attended the World PR Forum in Stockholm. Paul Miller, from Cision UK, discussed a study that revealed journalists prefer to receive news releases in the body of an email. In addition, the study suggested emails should be formatted as two-way conversations.”
These lessons may not be standard practices for some PR professionals, but they represent an essential shift into a culture of listening and engagement with the media as well as channeling a company’s news into the relevant streams so they are easy to find. Marty Weintraub of internet marketing company aimClear writes at Search Engine Land about his company’s PR strategy, “Feeds are essential for media relations. Poll every potential stakeholder in your company, from PR to tech, and organize funneling any news to be published by feed and permalink.”
By investing time in the aimClear blog, Weintraub finds that many reporters pick up on his stories without having to pitch them directly. The key is to make sure you have a focused strategy for your blog and an action plan to follow through that will keep it updated.
PR Opportunities for Triumph and Failure
As easy as the internet can make PR, the nature of our connected online culture means that headaches can spring up just as easily.
One PR failure story that traveled the web recently concerned a female blogger who was insulted by a PR firm that had pitched an irrelevant story for her site—a site that has over 160,000 followers on Twitter. While good news can travel quickly in the age of social media, bad news tends to travel even faster.
PR in a Digital Age Can Become Fragmented
Tesco, on online shopping site has long used YouTube to feature its products and connect with customers, but the flow of information through its various YouTube channels has become fragmented and sometimes erratic. The challenge facing Tesco is to share one, simple, coherent message through its YouTube channel and other social networks. Competing or contradictory messages will hinder the effectiveness of a company’s PR efforts.
Jack Herbert, a digital media advisor, writes for the Public Relations Institute of Australia that a general lack of trust in social media tools such as Twitter are becoming particularly strong. If your message drifts or becomes unreliable, the social media tools that could make your PR efforts simple and effective could be wasted due to a departure from what reporters and customers have learned to expect. If you fail your customers at a key moment, you may even lose them forever, as News Corp has discovered after its recent hacking scandal.
PR is an evolving industry where there are many new opportunities and challenges. The World PR Forum in Australia offers a bi-annual opportunity to learn the latest industry trends and practices that can keep your company at the forefront of your field.