Gone are the days when a public relations (PR) professional had to only monitor what was happening in traditional media. Constant vigilance of developments in social media has become an integral part of a PR exercise. The widespread use of social media has fundamentally changed how people communicate and share information. Public relations is certainly no exception as practitioners seek to communicate with and hear from consumers, along with using social channels to share information with key audiences.
According to Bob Frause, Chairman and CEO, Frause and Public Relations Organisation International (PROI) President, “Globally PR has changed over the last 10 years. The industry has become sophisticated. Thanks to emerging new media, PR professionals are looking beyond print media and are constantly looking at leveraging opportunities on this new channel of communication.”
India is the newest country that adapted to the digital revolution. Madan Bahal, Managing Director, Adfactors and Indian PROI Partner said, “India is a complex market. On one hand there is this vast set of regional readers and on the other a set of people who access print media regularly. Generating interest in these two set of groups is what PR professionals are looking at as a challenge. Apart from this, there is the new trend of social media users that need to be considered as it is the new channel of the communication pie.”
The big change that social media has brought along with itself is that it has changed the process of marketing communication from awareness to engagement. According to Neil Green, Senate SHJ, Vice President, PROI, “The beauty of social media is the power of engagement it has in creation of focussed group.”
Experts believe that people on social media act as publishers. Hence, what PR can do is take the conversations initiated by users to the next level and observe the changes in responses that the communication idea gets. With social media, customers for the first time have been empowered with creating a dialogue and expressing their opinions. Rather than focussing on the channels, PR professionals should focus on the expectations of the audiences and how to serve as a valued resource for them.
Another change that is observed in the PR industry is that it has now been absorbed as an integral part of the marketing pie. Earlier marketers were only focussed on creating advertising activities for their brands but with the growing popularity of PR, its demand as a must-have activity has increased tremendously. Bahal shared, “Advertising creates awareness, visibility and drives demands for a brand but if it wants to be legend, only PR that can help it create this significance cost effectively.”
PROI has helped in different emerging PR thoughts of the world to come together in the recent past. PROI was founded in Europe in 1970 and is the world’s oldest and largest partnership of independently owned PR and marketing agencies by fee income. With more than 120 offices in 40 countries on six continents, PROI agencies are the leading independents in their markets from London, New York, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Tokyo to Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, India, Paris and Sao Paolo.
Commenting on the organisation’s key observations, Richard Tsang, SPRG Chairman, Vice President, PROI said, “There is market shift that has happened. Emerging economies such as China and India are looking at generating special interest PR division to serve the focussed needs of the client better. Local expertise is also looked upon as great area of opportunity and that’s where PROI is a great help as far as networking and learning is concerned.”
The primary focus of PROI is to build reputations and shape opinions using customised programmes which combine geographical and business practice expertise and a broad range of services to support clients whose needs stretch across borders and continents. PROI partners are business leaders and entrepreneurs who understand the demands facing clients and the importance of return on investment. They combine their local knowledge to deliver global results. The Indian partners of PROI are Adfactors PR and Integral PR. The regional meet of PROI this year was hosted by Adfactors on September 21 and 22.