Pivot or perish in the new PRverse

In today’s 'PR Outlook for 2022' edition, Dilip Yadav, Founding Partner, First Partners, pens that in this highly dynamic environment, PR practitioners must learn new skills to survive and grow

e4m by Dilip Yadav
Published: May 27, 2022 9:06 AM  | 5 min read
Dilip Yadav

Public relations (PR) and corporate communications practitioners are today operating in a highly dynamic environment. The rules of the game are changing, and professionals must learn, unlearn, innovate, and understand the new media landscape, along with the changing consumer preferences. Coupled with massive challenges are new opportunities that can ensure a smooth transition into the future for PR practitioners.


Understanding and mastering trends

The global shift towards digital is not a new trend. For years, people have been gradually moving from other mediums to digital platforms to consume content. However, the larger trend of ‘going digital’ has created a few significant sub-trends. Unlike in the past when editors set the news agenda, today, the consumers decide what’s trending. Millions of voices on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others determine the talking point, prompting media organisations to develop and present content around those topics/developments.

Further, the users’ role is no more limited to just content consumption. Today, we have a new breed of ‘prosumers’ – these are content producers and consumers rolled into one. These users collect information in the form of text, pictures, and videos, process it, and put it up for mass consumption. In fact, some of the finest content and brightest ideas are today coming from unconventional sources as opposed to those towering media brands.

Free flow of content in this new universe however is dependent on social media platforms run by technology companies with well thought-out revenue models. This has put new demands on PR professionals to acquire skills to manage these technology platforms and master hacks that allow creating impact with brand promotions and messages.


Pivot with PR tech to stay relevant

We are living in the digital age in which technology and data are the two most powerful outreach tools.  Since the profession of public relations is all about taking the brand’s message to the media and eventually to the larger public, these two tools can help in both designing impactful campaigns through targeted interventions based on data and assessing their qualitative and quantitative impact through analytics. With the help of data analysis and customisation, PR professionals can also help in boosting personalised messaging and reaching out to new consumers, while strengthening their relationship with the existing ones.

The growing dependence on these tools also requires PR practitioners to invest in tech experts, while simultaneously acquiring tech expertise to keep up with the changing trends. Take, for instance, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the industry. AI can automate repetitive tasks such as media monitoring and help in accurately drafting content deliverables with software like Grammarly. The technology can also assist in content categorisation, with the same information being treated differently for different communication tools such as press releases and media notes. Since the brain behind AI is that of a human, it is important for PR practitioners to understand this technology and think of ways to better its application in the future. Similarly, with metaverse, PR professionals can leverage it for virtual product placement, virtual storytelling, and virtual brand partnerships.


The factor that will rule the roost

This hyper-dependence on technology and tools should make the case for technology companies and tech talent to take over the function of PR. Fortunately, the answer is a big no. This is because the practice of PR thrives, not on the mastery of the medium, but of the human mind and how it handles information. At heart, PR professionals are storytellers. Stories which are meant for human consumption, not machines. It is the human factor which is the X-factor in PR.

A deft PR professional is the one who can handle multiple variables with ease, all together, and in real time. The PR professional of the future would be the one who is able to craft the right messages, handle audio-visual tools to give content its form, manage and leverage technology platforms to deliver it, while keeping a track of what is trending to make it topical, and finally do instant course-correction to hold audience attention. Doing all this together is complex. But managing complexities is the second nature for PR professionals.

Today, machines are being designed to learn and process information at lightning speed. But the process is dependent on reapplying pre-existing data, information, past occurrences, and patterns. A corollary to this is the inability of machines to create ideas which are completely new - ideas which are born out of human imagination, or dreams. This is the sweet spot for PR professionals. Good storytelling thrives on the power of fertile imagination.

In conclusion, the mantra to success for PR professionals in the metaverse or rather a new PRverse will be to stick to their core – the storytelling skills, while quickly mastering the mediums, which are going to be bastions of a few tech firms. Innovative partnerships with these tech platforms and openness to embrace ‘pay and earn’ approach without diluting the credibility of messages will open new vistas for the PR fraternity.



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