Technology has been driving the transformation of the economy, as various sectors and businesses adapt and adopt a more tech-savvy approach to remain relevant, efficient, and successful. For Public Relations or PR, as a key enabler for brand engagement, it is vital to not just be well informed about these technological developments but to also understand and explore a strategy to leverage these effectively. Further, with the meteoric rise in media platforms and hybrid content formats, there has also been a drastic shift in PR functions and tools. These include a shift from in-person media tours to 10 min phone calls, Second-day news to the second hour news, press conferences for a product launch to Twitter launches, watch parties and Skype conferences, and from the mass mailing of press releases and articles to personalized, one-on-one pitching to journalists, PR has come a long way. While most of these have largely been influenced by the advent of digital media, the communication dynamics to have changed, from a previous one-way transmission to an interactive, always-on conversation in the digital space. This has further led to the change in narrative and messaging, taking away the focus of the conversation from product and service to holistic brand value and philosophy.
In the midst of this ever-changing scenario, technology continues to evolve, fuelling the chain reaction that had begun a decade ago! In terms of the contemporary landscape, listed here are key emerging technology trends that are transforming PR techniques and conversations!
Access to Data: With the advent of Google analytics and search engine optimization tools, the virtual world has become a minefield of valuable data, available for anyone willing to look. As a highly research-oriented practice, PR has come to rely heavily on the new age, free availability of specific data – be it research reports, industry business reports, company or competition rankings or media and journalist backgrounds, a modern PR professional has all of these at the fingertips! PR is essentially driven by creating compelling narratives, shared with the right audience, at the right time. Access to accurate data in terms of target markets, competition, consumer behaviour, journalist or media inclinations, business policy impacts, and mindsets to brand acceptance, can all become vital when creating an impactful narrative!
IoT & Wearable Technology: With each passing day, newer technology advancements are creating innovative platforms for consumer interaction. The rise of voice assistant devices and smart home tools, for example, has already created a rush among brands to explore customized content to engage with their consumers. Similarly, other wearable gadgets, from fit bits, heart rate monitors and smartwatches that can control the IoT devices in your home or office, to the rising automation of daily routines at home and work front, technology is changing our lifestyles, and rapidly. And with each consumer engagement interface, PR is driving relevant content to maximize impact.
Interactive content: From documented facts and figures to quotes from a spokesperson or a simple ‘media communication’ as a press release, PR has come a long long way. Data-driven, holistic and well-researched content presented in a crisp and impactful manner is the taste of the day! Additionally, with evolving content platforms, conversations around brands are not limited to a one-sided talk on product and service but have in fact evolved to be an open discussion on ethical policies, social impact, and environmental implications of the brand. So while it is important to curate stories that are engaging, presenting them to fit the increasingly shrinking screen size and attention spans are becoming vital!
Virtual Reality: This could probably be voted as one of the most dramatic shifts in content presentation and sharing! What could be more engaging than an ‘immersive’ VR story experience? While brands are already lapping up this technology to offer customers a near-perfect virtual experience of their products and services, media houses – broadcast channels and print media, are also launching app’s which provide engagement through VR. While the mainstream adaptation of the technology into PR still seems like a far-away possibility, the technology is already driving the creation of a good targeting, strategically planned and well-designed VR apps and experiences for stakeholders of the brand at multiple levels.
Just like emerging technology innovations have brought about ease of business while also disrupting the sector, PR too is on the path to a transformation that is much larger and all-encompassing than just brands and consumer engagement.
-- Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder of Scenic Communication...