January 2018 marks my one year in my role at KOR Communications. July 2018 will be two years since I graduated. Now I know I’ve not been around long, but I’d like to think I’ve learnt a thing or two over the past two years.
I recently completed the PRCA/PR Week PR and Communications Census and some of the questions referred to how the industry has changed in recent years. And it got me thinking, how has the work that I do day-to-day changed from my studies at university? How is the industry evolving?
PR relies so much more on social and digital channels now, you don’t need me to tell you that. And while social media and digital strategies featured in some of my university assignments, they were to complement the main PR campaign. Now, a strategic communications plan often looks at digital first, with any other elements slotting into the plan around this.
For every client, there will be a digital platform that reaches their target audience, a social channel that is ideal for sharing their messages. And it’s all about using digital tools in the right way to achieve overall objectives.
It isn’t all campaigns
In 2017, I was pleased to see Ella Minty trying to making industry bodies aware that campaigns aren’t the be all and end all of PR, particularly when it comes to award entries. And I’d say the same when it comes to PR teaching. Whilst I completely understand that they provide an excellent way to introduce students to the full circle of work required of a communications plan – from research and strategy to implementation, measurement and evaluation – PR isn’t all campaigns.
Most of my day-to-day work, as I’m sure it is for many professionals, is for ongoing communications plans. Working with a client day in and day out to maintain and support their reputation, share their messages and reach their audiences. And I think that, whilst campaigns are an excellent way to achieve shorter-term goals, ongoing communication management is the future of the industry, supported by micro-campaigns and projects.
The importance of ethics
I believe people outside of the industry still perceive the industry as one that focuses on spin and propaganda to some extent. But this is changing.
2017’s Bell Pottinger headlines, for example, bought ethics to the forefront of PR professional’s minds. This highlighted the importance not only of ethical practice but also how we, as an industry, must manage our own reputation and raise awareness of the fact that it is a legitimate management discipline. PR needs to continue to do its own PR.
Now, of course, I don’t doubt that university prepared me for ‘real life’ PR well, and I’m forever grateful to my tutors for sharing their expertise. But my view is that to ensure the future of the profession and its professionals, the theory needs to keep up with the practice.