08 May 2020

PR: a trusted companion on your journey to an unknown destination

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Gez Johns / gez@nwkcom.co.nz

Given today’s pace of change, fuelled by technology and global connectivity, organisations are increasingly tuning in to the need to adopt emergent rather than deliberate growth strategies; binning the five-year plan in favour of a more organic, outcome-focused approach that responds to the ever-changing reality in which they now operate.

While by no means a new concept, this is nevertheless a significant shift that conveys widespread recognition that we can no longer rely on the past to predict the future. It is a shift that requires organisations to have the confidence to pivot and change tack. And it is therefore also a shift that should change the way organisations embrace PR in today’s uber-connected world.

Effective PR today relies just as heavily on listening, as it does talking. It requires a constant scanning of the environment and the agility to react, change or adapt – all the while helping to create the environment which enables successful outcomes, without second-guessing the solution. PR is itself an emergent strategy.

The clear synergy that exists between the key tenets of PR and effective modern business strategy highlights both our purpose and our value. As organisations realise that they have no choice but to adopt an outside-in, bottom-up philosophy that ties success to a clearer understanding of trends and public sentiment, their need for the full set of PR skills will never be greater.

But this full embrace of modern PR also requires a mind shift. Traditionally the value of PR has been measured through SMART objectives; volume of column inches, number of mentions, favourable investor sentiment etc. Yes, these can still serve as a barometer for individual campaigns, but what we know about today’s operating environment is that licence to operate and/or ensuring room to manoeuvre in times of change or crisis requires sustainable relationships with customers, regulators, media and influencers. This is not immediately measurable, therefore the amalgamated value creation of holistic PR can feel like an exercise in trust – or indeed a leap of faith.

Today’s increasingly disrupted environment is the PR practitioner’s natural playground. Organisations that recognise this are well-placed to better understand and navigate through diverse stakeholder environments to meet the expectations of their current and future customers.