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How social media is changing Public Relations

Media is transforming by the day, and so is consumer behaviour, the consumers of news, in this case. Social media now plays a major role in dissipating news and information on a daily basis.

Social media has given wings to PR

Public Relations professionals whose thinking was constrained by the circulation and readership figures to measure the reach and impact of their work now feel unshackled, growing wings. They use their owned media channels to further amplify the reach amongst their target audience. In the past, industry leaders had coined adages like ‘Advertising is what you pay for’ and ‘Public Relations is what you pray for’. This led to conversations like ‘Now that you have got your story out, go and pray for its impact’. PR professionals now have greater influence over the messaging. The message is further channelised to the audience through pointed targeting using parameters like age, sex, profession, geography etc.,

Birth of Digital PR

The advent of social media gave birth to digital PR because public relations professionals readily accepted the two-way communication advantage the new media allowed. In the past, conventional media, which was the biggest communication channel, gave their readers or viewers only one-way communication channel. This fine balance of carefully using the combination of new media and conventional media spawned meaningful dialogues and hence influenced brand perceptions, is digital PR or the new-age PR.

PR effectively achieves the desired positioning

Public Relations professionals are now able to enjoy a lot of freedom as their efforts are not confined to what the media writes about their brands. The owned space and semi-paid platforms which now constitute a major portion of digital PR, allows for a greater freedom for better storytelling. This helps in sharper positioning of the brand.

Change in media reporting style

Widespread acceptance and indulgence in social media have pushed conventional media to change the way it operates. Social media has pushed the television channels to report using text to cover aspects that cannot be supported with video or when video journalists cannot be everywhere to report on developments.

To catch up with the growing acceptance of video content and a decline in text consumption, newspapers and magazines are now training their reporters on producing video interviews and their desk is now being trained to edit video content. Some newspapers use videos from their television partners.

In this whole process, magazines have been the worst-affected, thus falling by the wayside over time, while the readers are no longer ready to wait for a week or even a month to read a magazine, magazine reporters are now having to break the news on their websites on a daily basis. Auto and food magazines are now compelled to generate more content for their respective YouTube channels.

While they are adopting newer mediums to stay relevant, news reporting styles have also changed. Magazine and newspaper reporters are now trained to double as television anchors or newsreaders as their content is now also in the video format.

Data analytics is being used to see what type of content or stories are more engaging and content creation is demand-specific.

Social media has changed messengers too

Space is no more a constraint, print stories go online, television channels take text-based smaller announcements and views. Both these sets of professionals are getting closer, and PR professionals who narrate their stories better and can add value to the journalist’s reporting are the ones who will stay relevant.

It’s time PR professionals are trained to be platform-agnostic as integrated communication is the future.

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The Gen Z challenge

Each generation thinks it’s unique, including mine, and look where we are now! Let’s not deny that communicating effectively with any generation poses a challenge. Crucial to sorting facing up to challenge is the answer to the basic question “whom are we talking to”? Since we are talking to generation Z, we need to understand them, however we can! What we do know is that many of them belong to the latchkey generation, often living away from their doting grandparents. To them, multitasking is as simple as guzzling beer at a microbrewery. They have an attention span that might shame CEOs. They can’t read anything that is voluminous even if it is to save their lives. This generation is consumed by the visual medium. So what does that mean for those of us who are in communication?

Keep it simple, silly

Let’s remember that this generation doesn’t have time so brevity really has to be the soul of wit. Obtuse, complex statements won’t work. Be snappy in your communication. But remember the importance of strategy in communication. And what is strategy? Strategy in this case is what is being said. So what will be our messaging be? That’s critical. No less important will be our execution. Even more important is it for generation Z. They love snazzy executions that capture their fancy, engage them and they can share comfortably without a loss of face.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the challenge

We live in challenging times with a proliferation of media and a disinterested Gen Z. Let’s research our audience, gear ourselves up for the task at hand so that we can treat this as an opportunity and not as a challenge. I am sure we will be more than equal to the challenge in the present as we have been in the past. The key is professionalism.
How professional are we?

– Ramanujam Sridhar

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Brace for Change, Z-Man’s Coming

A new generation of superheroes is gearing up to save the world; a clumsy, in-your-face communication approach could well transform angels into villains

Even as the suspense builds up around what seems to be the last sequel of a hugely popular superhero franchise, it may not be as much of a revelation that an SOS to save the world (as sent by a certain Mr. Fury, before he vaporizes into thin air) has reached the Z-Man. The Z-Man is not an individual, but a cohort of two billion; this is definitely the largest group of crusaders the world has ever seen.

She takes a bullet in her head, from an oppressive regime, to stand up for women’s right to education. But what good is a plot if the superhero succumbs to a mere projectile? She recovers from a headshot as if that were a norm, moves a finger and casts a spell in a room, enough to raise an army of a billion to defend her cause—enter Malala Yousafzai.

I cannot think, or know of any other generation that can boast of a teenage Nobel laureate who is enlightening thousands of lives across the world at any given point of time. That my friends, is the power of the Generation-Z; no sense of entitlement or unquestioning obedience, but just driven by a mission to make the world a better place.
As a critic of numerous initiatives by institutions or individuals (read as CSR & Sustainability) that claim to change the world, I am unabashed to say that much of these superlatively superfluous activities are simply gift wrapped for consumption by millennials and the Gen-X. The strategy worked just fine for these audiences, but is most likely to fall flat as the Generation-Z either ignores it completely or decimates such indiscernible marketing.

Millennials stood up when certain fashion labels and designer brands launched campaigns that were outrightly racial or even anti-Semitic. The ‘Z’s may well pose an existential risk to these companies, as they endorse the view that their production, procurement and retail methods drains the planet and people of its/their resources.

Born into an age of social media, renewable/non-conventional energy, a chaotic global system marked by a major recession, wealth inequality, LGBTQ inclusion into the mainstream and hyper-connectivity, it is only logical that this cohort is wary to the ways of external forces that are overbearing or claim hegemony. The ‘Z’s understand that intergenerational equity is the only way to preserve Planet Earth, even if Mars presents a musky opportunity for colonization.

So what should be the way forward for organizations and individuals who seek their stories to be heard in this age and time? Well, it is straightforward, ‘Be yourself and be proud of your story’. Its less about being another brick in the wall and more about #Unique&TrueMe. It is the urgent need of the hour, for the millennials and the Generation-X, to endorse the worldview of this cohort and join the ‘Z’-force to save the world.

By Sumantra Basu

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Generation Z and how to grab their attention!

As a brand, if you are still following marketing tricks to influence the millennials, chances are, that you are part of the rat race that is already at the finishing line. While the millennials are still receiving a major share of the marketing focus; it is time for brands to consider post-millennial marketing and focus attention on the next consumer segment: Generation Z.

Generation Z or Generation I, is the next growth powerhouse for marketers and needs to be looked at in a completely different manner than those who came before them. The biggest difference between Gen Z and their older counterparts, is the way the former uses technology. It is not surprise that some have labelled this new generation as ‘screen addicts’ who are unable to focus over prolonged periods of time. But, there is something deeper in this labelling. Studies have shown that Gen Z has a highly evolved ‘eight second filter’, which implies that they have adapted quickly to sort through excessive information and data. So, what can marketers do to grab the attention of this generation, which only spends time and effort on activities that they believe are worth their time.

– Focussed messaging:
Gen-Z or Gen-I as they have been categorized, do not waste time on things that will not add value to them. Hence, it becomes crucial for communicators to deliver meaningful content that is short but brings out a clear message. Videos work better for this generation, as they can grab attention, deliver brand messages and boost the brand’s worthiness in an extremely short span of time.

– Mobile friendly:
Yes, Facebook and LinkedIn are fantastic ways to connect; as are emails and calls; but Gen-Z moves faster, across multiple screens. They are using social media extensively and in addition, to laptops, are well-connected via mobile and tablets. Hence, it becomes vital for communicators to use a variety of screens and not be limited to the laptop/desk system. Also, do not forget to use multiple platforms for communicating, like Snapchat or Instagram stories.

– Be responsible:
Gen-Z is a socially conscious generation and they expect the same from the brands they follow. They care about the causes the brand supports and how you as a brand are trying to bring a change to the society. If your brand only talks money and promotions, Gen-Z will soon lose interest in you!

– Quality over brand loyalty:
It is interesting to see how Gen-Z looks at brand loyalty. Yes, there is an element of loyalty; but, they really do not follow brands. They look for honesty and the meaning behind the brand and its products. Gen-Z follow brands that directly correlate with their interests. Moreover, they also appreciate brands that they can learn from and are always on a look-out for meaningful brand exchanges that matter.

– Speak human and talk inclusive:
Brands need to project a feeling than simply talk about the specifications of their products. Hence, the content shared by the brands must have value and a human connect; in addition to enabling people to bond and work-together.
In all, it is important to identify Gen-Z’s differences and the environment that this generation has grown in.

Having grown in an extremely competitive environment, this generation needs to prove themselves not just professionally but on a personal level too. They want to maintain the balance of work and personal life; and stand out from their peers. They want to be entrepreneurs; yet, focus on creating a positive impact on the world.

If brands can understand the Gen-Z value system, they will be able to build in-roads into this still relatively untapped market, which presents a huge opportunity. All that is required is for brands to learn to tap into this goldmine is – how this generation acts, thinks and consumes.

By Vidhi Malla

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The Personalisation of Communication

Communication has significantly evolved, right from the stone age to the digital era. What began as cave paintings and sign language has now moved to emojis, tweets and likes. Today, there are endless ways to express oneself and this holds true especially for the Generation Z, or Digital Natives, where most of their communication is done through iMessage, WhatsApp, FaceTime and so on.

Given that communication has become so versatile, brands have an opportunity to tailor their communication style and message to achieve maximum reach. It’s obvious that a newspaper would not be the best channel of communication for a 16 year old, as the chances of them reading a newspaper are less. The increased exposure to technology and the easy access to information has resulted in shortened attention spans which is why quick, short and on-the-go information is what the younger generation prefer.

Today, we are presented with an overflow of information, hundreds of brands are competing for the same space to reach out to the same audience. So, how does one stand out? The messaging should not only be compelling but should also address a need or touch upon a sentiment/feeling that the audience can resonate with.

With technology providing easy access to information, consumption has increased over the years and with it the need for personalised communication where a brand is talking directly to you.

Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was a resounding success. Coca-Cola amplified this around the world by tailoring it to every market.

Share a coke campaign for the United Kingdom

Share a coke campaign for India

 

Did you know: 80% of the consumer are more likely to do business with a company/brand that offers personalised experiences.

Communication that is more relatable, engaging and personalised get noticed easily.

Take a look at the news piece from InShorts below –

We get to read what we want in 60 words or less – to the point and precise!

 

InShorts is the best example of how communication has transformed to engage with the Gen Z audience. Such changes have transformed the way businesses/brands communicate with their audience. The scope of brand communication is endless, especially, with the availability of deep insights from data and technology. The advancements in technology like augmented reality, virtual reality, immersive screens, interactive apps and 5G, will become an integral part in the way we use communication in the future. The experiences are only going to get bigger and more engaging, we can’t wait to watch how brands will make the best out of these advancements!

By Janice, Sriram and Nia

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Making your brand story appealing to the iGeneration?

You have a brand story and you think it is a great brand story, the real brand story is what your customer has in his mind.

Today a lot of entrepreneurs or leaders are busy running their business and look at everything from the ROI lens. What lot of them don’t realise is they are the brand storytellers and every time they speak to their customers, directly, through website, media or other channels of communication the story has to be appealing to the customer. This will help them increase ROI as a story best told has best ROI.

Is your customer the iGeneration(iGen) or will they be your customer or consumer in the near future?

The brand story to the iGen needs a different treatment and here are a few insights.

There are various studies that define the persona of the iGen. Recently Schneider Associates (SA) partnered with The Pollack PR Marketing Group (PPMG) to unearth the distinctive personalities and penchants of iGens. The ‘iGen Goes to School’ study found that iGens require information on-demand, and trust the advice of friends, even strangers, more than authority figures, organizations and brands on social media.

Is it wise to understand these findings and apply to communication of all types? Let’s look at how to make the brands story appealing to the iGen or GenZ before strengthening our belief in applying this in your communication.

Solve their problem to make your brand relevant: The brand story should balance the emotion that connects the trigger point to solve the iGen’s problem with just the right amount of information. This is important as this generation of digital natives is also fiercely independent about their digital decision-making.

Make influencers tell the story: A great brand story is easy to comprehend and simplifies big ideas in a way people can visualize and retain in target groups minds. It is perennial to make the story easy as it has to be told by the influencers and not only by the brand custodians. Reason being the iGen trusts the advice of friends and strangers more than brand custodians.

Excite and engage them with content: The story has to further surprise, make the audiences think and feel, delight and motivates them to take action which data cannot. Hence, the need for engaging content, physical engagements leading to action.

They consume large amounts of data: SA’s study says that the iGen are accustomed to consuming large amounts of media from multiple touch points at once. Keeping this in mind the story has to be told on varied media platforms and in varied forms keeping the core intact. This will help tackle more people on many channels.

If your story telling or communication plan has three out of these four points covered then your brand story telling is on the right track.

By Pravin Shiriyannavar