‘Podcasts give PR professionals the power of soft engagement’

In today’s edition of ‘PR Outlook for 2022’ series, Nitin Mantri, Group CEO, Avian WE, decodes some of the new trends in the PR industry and how PR professionals can leverage podcasts for clients

e4m by Ruchika Jha
Published: May 19, 2022 8:53 AM  | 6 min read
Nitin Mantri

The ‘PR Outlook for 2022’ series is where PR industry stalwarts share their views on the shift the industry is experiencing towards digitalisation and AI, the transition, current trends, the future of the PR industry, and more. 

In this edition, Nitin Mantri, Group CEO, Avian WE, decodes some of the new trends in the PR industry and how PR professionals can leverage podcasts for clients by creating brand-specific channels, and appearing as a guest or as ad hoc.

According to you, what are some of the upcoming trends in the PR industry? What are some of the opportunities and challenges you faced so far in 2022? 

Upcoming trends in the PR industry

The global pandemic has revealed and accelerated several trends that will play a significant role in 2022 and beyond. The road ahead calls for more inclusive policies, a deeper commitment to sustainability, an increasingly data-driven approach to campaigns, and an urgent need for empathetic leadership.

Trend No. 1: Put people first

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of human vulnerability and the need to invest more in the human aspects of work.  According to our latest Brands in Motion report, “The Bravery Mandate”, employee well-being is the most important issue that needs to be addressed by employers.

Employees are tired. They demand more autonomy and flexibility at work. Others want a renewed sense of purpose, and many crave interpersonal connections with their colleagues. In short, they want to feel valued by their organizations. Unless we champion the welfare of our workforce and appreciate the value of their contribution, we stand to lose what lies at the very heart of our work—our people.

Trend No. 2: Double down on ESG goals

At the same time, organisations must act to ensure that environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals are more than a buzzword.

Our whitepaper, The Bravery Mandate, found that 71 per cent of respondents felt that brands have an obligation to engage with global issues such as climate change. In fact, an increasing number of consumers expect socially responsible and sustainable practices across industries and business sectors. Brands that “walk the talk” have an opportunity to showcase their authenticity and impact.

Trend No. 3: Accelerate with data

Communications has always been about keeping a finger on the pulse of consumers, events, and trends to build compelling narratives. Inevitably, this means that we have a large amount of data—and analytics can help make sense of all the information. We can now glean important insights on key performance indicators like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), media reach, earned media and audience behaviour to help evaluate outcomes and inform future efforts. In doing so, we can create hyper-personalised messaging to drive more effective business outcomes in lesser time.

Trend No. 4: Lead with empathy

The pandemic has ushered in a whole new leadership paradigm. Post-pandemic leaders are no longer superhumans that plough through problems with unflinching perfection. They are real, vulnerable and lead with the heart. Future CEOs will recognise the importance of being actively involved in initiating and maintaining relationships with diverse groups, both within and outside of the organisation, to foster positive change.

Opportunities and challenges

We are witnessing the highest growth of tech businesses. This is likely to continue with tech innovations shaping every aspect of our life and work. Take, for instance, the Metaverse. It has opened doors to a world of opportunities we never even knew existed. Brands now have an entire virtual universe to design immersive experiences for their audiences. At the same time, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are helping brands leverage consumer data to change the way businesses draw customers and make conversions.

But the fascination with new tech innovations comes with its own set of challenges. Advanced tech is opening sinkholes like data leaks, deepfakes and safety risks to the mind and body. For PR practitioners and communicators, this is the time to deep dive into ethical and responsible consultancy and the importance of values and purpose. Our work should begin with educating ourselves about these technologies so that we can provide proper guidance to our clients and draw up best practices for them - and ourselves.

The pandemic has also put the spotlight on healthcare. With patients more empowered than ever before and the regulatory environment changing, healthcare brands operate in an environment of exponential expectations. As communicators, we are helping healthcare brands evolve their communications strategies and earn consumer love.

Almost every organisation heavily leverages the digital medium for industrial activities. How do you see the clients focusing on data customisation?

PR professionals can customise data to understand audiences deeply and give a personal and human touch to communications. Through well-researched data, we can understand what a particular group of audience likes or dislikes and plan our communications around the insights. We can even understand journalists and influencers better through data and make our pitches received better.

The PR and Communications industry is now making its way in the age of podcasts. What are the advantages that the professionals can garner from the same? 

There has been a lot of talk on the future of social media being audio, and podcasts have become a hot trend today. Podcasts give PR professionals the power of soft engagement. To engage our audience through texts, pictures, or videos; they have to get involved with all their senses. However, for podcasts, one can just leave it on while driving a car, cooking or doing household chores.

PR professionals can leverage podcasts for clients by creating brand-specific podcast channels, appearing as a guest in a popular podcast channel, or as ad hoc and share on social channels.

How do you foresee the future of the PR industry with the usage of Artificial Intelligence?

Tools like Cloud, machine learning and artificial intelligence should become our go-to tech assets in order to collect and analyse data and optimise client time, energy and budgets. With the power of AI, we will provide audience insights, reduce time spent on day-to-day-tasks, enable targeting social interactions, predict crises accurately and track fake news.

However, we must keep in mind that every problem does not have an AI solution. AI may transform the way we do certain tasks, but it won’t revolutionise our industry as a whole, at least not for a long time. After all, PR is all about relationships – with our clients, journalists, communities, and our people – relationships that will always require a human element.

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