Preparing for the Future of PR

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I was recently privileged to receive an invitation from the Native Society to be profiled among its list of nationwide public relations leaders. In its own words, its “mission is to feature and promote high-quality content from industry experts, leaders, entrepreneurs and equivalent role models with the intent of inspiring, encouraging and enlightening our readership. One way we do this is by highlighting the unique achievements, insights and attributes of our select contributors.”

In the profile, I outlined what I see are emerging industry trends:

  • Multicultural communications, whether it be in languages other than English or in being sensitive to niche cultural norms and expectations, is increasingly important for all industries. Our nation is ever the melting pot; however, these days, large segments of minority populations do not subscribe to immediate and total assimilation, proudly guarding their individual, cultural identities. Organizations hoping to earn the trust of these populations with ever-growing importance must build upon this recognition.
  • Communicating with multicultural audiences is not simple, and it is much more than a matter of translation. Various Latino communities, each with their own identity, both share similarities and complex differences. For all of them, there are different levels of acculturation, native ethnicities, lexicons and geographic origins. Essentially, there are millions of youth growing up multilingual and multicultural, and the mainstream marketplace will most effectively reach their minds and hearts with culturally savvy insights and communications.

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In regards to opportunities and challenges within my professional service segment:

  • The proliferation of openly biased news, the practice of click-bait and the death of fact-checking is a challenge to public relations and the journalism profession. As news outlets continue to struggle for survival, it is unfortunate that outright bias and salacious headlines are becoming common strategies for capturing reader interest. Reporting unsubstantiated stories to get the scoop is common practice even among the old guard news outlets that one would expect to uphold the principle of fair and balanced reporting. But the news isn’t all bad. I see excellent journalism coming out of the new generation of media such as BuzzFeed Big Stories and even neighborhood-focused outlets like Hoodline in San Francisco.
  • The growing influence of algorithms in how people discover and access information is both an opportunity and a challenge. Virtually all online/digital/social content is customized to each person based on past behavior (search, purchases, clicks, etc.). This means that there is significantly more competition for people’s time and attention while presenting an opportunity for communicators to be more targeted in their approach. There’s even more impetus now to create integrated campaigns with synergies between paid, earned, owned and shared media.

Our key initiatives to ensure the success of our business:

  • Strategic partnerships with digital marketing firms
  • Developing multicultural communications services
  • Building niche industry strengths
  • Risk management partnerships with other category professional service firms
  • Ever-increasing sophistication in research and analytics
  • Adaptability to industry and client trends while affirming our own core tenets of brand PR and crisis communications

And my career advice to those just entering or interested in entering the public relations profession:

  • Be a voracious reader of the news and closely follow contemporary culture.
  • Continually work at being a good writer and storyteller; no typos, no grammatical blunders, easy transitions, and no overkill.
  • Keep up with the latest tools and trends in today’s communications.
  • Find something that differentiates you from everyone else on staff; become the acknowledged go-to on specific issues and/or competencies.
  • Go beyond tactics, and think of situations creatively and strategically. Be solutions-focused and avoid naysaying.
  • Be a team player; you cannot create ongoing situations that define you as difficult to work with. Show your appreciation for the help you receive.

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