PR Council's Annual Critical Issues Forum:
I recently had the opportunity to attend the PR Council’s annual Critical Issues Forum, which focused on the idea of 5G PR. 5G PR reflects the speed at which the world is changing and how people are communicating with one another, in real time at lightning speeds, all made available by the cutting-edge technologies we’re surrounded by. Those of us on the ground found ourselves talking about how new platforms will change the way we communicate, how iGen will replace millennials and the impact on communications in today’s political climate.
Three highlights from these discussions really stood out:
- CMOs = lighthouse of C-suite: CMOs from Intel, MSG and Heineken all spoke about how they increasingly need to think more about where marketing can play with the C-suite. From being ready to step into the role of a CEO, to acting as a liaison with the sales and technology functions, CMOs are really the dot-connectors. Strong storytelling, coupled with consumer insights, need to be disseminated consistently and holistically across integrated digital platforms for a brand; while agencies need to challenge corporate partners to be creative and think BIG. The Intel CMO noted that PR has the best return on investment and will continue to become more valued. This is right in line with what our recent Stories in Motion study concluded — earned media is still at the top for consumers and is regarded as the most influential source of news and information when it comes to driving consumer opinions about brands and products.
- Breaking through the (political) clutter: In a time when companies are expected to take a stance and maintain credibility by stepping up when there are mishaps, brands must 1) be authentic when something goes wrong (avoid the rote apology); 2) proactively define what it stands for (or someone else will do it for you); and 3) show versus tell. In fact, WE’s Brands in Motion study found that 81 percent of respondents in the United States believe that businesses have the ability to provide stability. Communications in this political atmosphere is about walking the walk, not talking the talk.
- Platform Transparency: Cyberconflict has changed the face of warfare, as recently evidenced by the DNC leaks during the election (led by the Russians). Given that the cyberwarfare is happening across country lines, governments are exposed to many more dangers than traditional warfare, says David Sanger of NYT. Now, tech companies like Facebook and Twitter have a responsibility to pick up their editing and editorial judgment, and drive transparency about who is using their platform and buying ads.
Because of the way our environment and the media ecosystem is constantly moving and evolving, brands must keep moving, too. The opportunities lie in finding new ways to connect with consumers by embracing the four realities and paying attention to the movement around them. It’s an important time for communicators to help brands harness their motion and propel their messages forward.
Connect with the author, Jessica Jeng, on Twitter.