We are living in a ‘hypermodern’ society, characterised by a culture of hyper consumption, hyper change and hyper individualism. This society in overdrive can be seen through the array of media constantly impacting almost everything we do. We consume sporting events, political debates and TV shows, not just through the action unfolding before us, but also a stream of related social media posts in the palm of our hand, online forums and live web analysis. All of this results in new challenges and opportunities for PR agencies, as well as the overall communications profession.
Journalists, media outlets and businesses have all been forced to adapt to accommodate changing media consumption habits. Public relations professionals must therefore also appreciate the impact of new media on their profession. As a specialist technology PR agency, Comit is at the forefront of emerging industry trends brought about by these new technologies.
The online landscape today
The above infographic from Excelecom breaks down what occurs in every internet minute, giving some perspective on the sheer scale of online interactions today. With almost 350,000 new tweets, 120 new LinkedIn accounts created and 150 million emails sent every minute, the possibilities to engage in discussion and make new connections are vast.
According to the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index, more than three billion people around the world are connected to the internet. And increasingly, people are relying on mobile internet. The latest research in Ireland from Ipsos MRBI shows the prevalence of social media and messaging accounts. While Facebook remains the network with the highest account ownership – 59% of the Irish population has an account – this figure is decreasing. Instagram is the fastest growing network with account ownership at 28%, up from 18% in 2015. Perhaps the most important takeaway relates not to account ownership, but to daily usage.
Snapchat’s account ownership may seem relatively low compared to other messaging applications (26%), but its users are by far the most active, with 70% logging in every day. It is important for public relations professionals to take note of these figures and realise that their clients not only need an online presence, but a multi-faceted one if they want to effectively target audiences.
The 'half-second' news cycle
Communications professionals no longer have the luxury of operating based on the 24-hour news cycle; we are now working in what Cohn & Wolfe call the ‘half-second news cycle’. Previously, if a problem arose, organisations could take the time to sit down with their PR agency and discuss, evaluate and formulate a response. Now, with the potential for hundreds of thousands of social media posts to circulate every half second, stories can rarely be contained. Individuals and organisations alike must be aware of the speed at which bad news can travel.
As Warren Buffett pointed out: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” In the world of instant communications, five minutes may even be an understatement.
But just as bad news travels fast, so too can good news and there is an abundance of ways in which businesses and their PR agencies can use the instant world to their advantage.
Most journalists are active social media users with considerable follower numbers. PR professionals can use that to their advantage. Hosting events and inviting journalists, or involving them in a product demo, can lead to pictures and videos being shared on social media and reaching a wide audience.
PR agencies can ensure clients stay part of industry conversation through owned and consistently updated social media channels, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as company blogs that offer thought leadership, commentary and the latest company news. Analytics and metrics can also be used to work out who is being reached and what content works best.
With account ownership of visual social networks like Instagram and Snapchat on the rise, visually rich content is more important than ever. The 2017 European Communication Monitor found that almost 95% of communications professionals believe visual communication will gain in importance for strategic communication in the future. Whether it’s sharing fun pictures of staff or making short videos, PR professionals are increasingly combining social media and visuals to capture attention and engage potential customers.
Digital complements traditional
Digital opportunities afforded by the instant world don’t replace traditional PR activities, but they do complement them, and can significantly impact brand awareness. The objectives of public relations remain largely the same, but traditional methods of reaching your target audience are greatly enhanced by new digital channels. Old rules are being rewritten by a new wave of creativity. While challenges are certainly posed, huge opportunities are also there for brave and innovative PR agencies.
As the leading tech PR agency in Ireland, Comit can help businesses ensure their communications aren’t outdated. Contact us today.