Reputation management by K2 Communications published article by Shiv Devraaj for Reputation Today

The Art and Science of Reputation Management in PR

management Reputation management by K2 Communications published article by Shiv Devraaj for Reputation Today

58% of Fortune 500 executives believe PR reputation management should be a core part of every organisation’s marketing and branding strategy.*

Companies risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search results and 70% of potential customers with four or more negatives.*

70% of consumers state that they would avoid buying a product if they don’t like the company behind it.*

Reputation is an important intangible asset of any organisation from a small kiosk to a billion-dollar organisation. Reputation is entrusted not just to a CEO but to every stakeholder of the organisation. Most of the CEOs do think that it’s one of the major risk factors to be taken into consideration but, many of them don’t have the reputation risk plan in place.

Public relation is a discipline that looks after reputation.  A detailed PR reputation management plan and sustained effort are needed, to establish the brand the public wants to see, through media exposure. A PRO should take ownership of the whole crisis and help the company and senior executives and pull them out of the frying pan. The idea here is to identify the crisis, not just by focusing on what and how it has happened, but, what is at stake – reputation, the paramount, the future of the company.

How reputation is affected?

In a world so advanced, with digitalisation and social media being the untamable beasts – a single act of negligence by the company stakeholders can gain huge attention in minutes, causing the impact on a large scale and downgrade the reputation. The best example of this is the current situation, where the world is undergoing a crisis – COVID19. Every story is revolving around the Coronavirus, there is panic all around. The public is emotional and putting on company news over the pandemic reeks out of self-centeredness and could negatively affect the branding.

One bad tweet or a Facebook meme shared by a stakeholder can have a huge effect on search engines. Negative stories on social media and reviewing platforms can have a huge impact not just on the company’s reputation but also on Google’s search engine result pages.

Is reputation measurable?

It is an intangible asset just like air. It has value and stakeholders use it to compare to competitors. But, is it measurable?

Well, it is. But there is no exact formula or procedure. Many scholars and practitioners have been working on this, creating models. One of them is “Corporate Reputation Quotient”  by Charles Fombrun (from the US) and Cees van Riel (from the Netherlands), which measures six drivers contributing to corporate reputation –emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership,  workplace environment, financial performance, and social responsibility. 

The business-owners measure the effect of a reputation crisis. The share price is a crude measure, which affects the company’s market capitalization. It provides an instant picture of the company’s value amongst the public.

Reputation Rebuilding through PR

Given the importance of reputation management in this fast pacing interconnected world, a PRO needs to follow three “R” policy – Repair, Rebuild, and Recover. It can be done via traditional PR as well as online reputation management (ORM).

The first thought is to focus on how to repair the damage before it develops further into a market rumour. PR manager should ask clients to be transparent and project that transparency through positive stories. Being transparent and being positive to what is kept on the table by the customer or reviewer is risky. But in the long run, it’s a saviour. Once the crisis starts quelling, one should initiate the rebuilding process. The idea here is to build a positive public perception of the business by starting a fresh PR reputation management campaign both offline and online. Lastly, help recover the business by ensuring to mitigate the effect of any negative reputation bombs by continuously monitoring, rapid response, strategic SEO, social media listening, etc.

Creating a good reputation takes time and effort. Be transparent; never falsify who you are just so people like you.

This article was originally published in Reputation Today

*Resources

A Framework for measuring Corporate Reputation

https://moz.com/blog/new-data-reveals-67-of-consumers-are-influenced-by-online-reviews

https://www.webershandwick.com/uploads/news/files/InRepWeTrust_ExecutiveSummary.pdf

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Public Relations Officers guidelines for corporate communications department during coronavirus crisis

Corporate Communications guidebook for companies to navigate coronavirus crisis

Public relations and corporate communications

Communication has always been at the root of all solutions. More so, during the Coronavirus crisis, Corporate Communications managers have an extremely vital role to play. As the organizations are looking up for strong and steady communications leadership- it is critical that your Corporate Communications Department helps address imminent concerns regarding safety and survival, work on stabilizing the business in the short term, and helping position it for future recovery.

The spread of novel coronavirus is not just a world-wide humanitarian and economic crisis, the events are unprecedented, with large-scale block quarantines, border closings, widespread lockdowns, and social distancing.

As everyone is looking at action points to “flatten the curve”, organizations have also braced themselves into concrete steps to protect employees, customers, suppliers, and bottom lines. With some companies losing up to 75% of their revenues in a single quarter and digital connectivity playing a fundamental role in continuity, even survival, of business operations.

As work from home becomes a global reality due to the coronavirus crisis, the need for frequent, transparent, and more engaging communications with internal and external customers has become paramount.

Public Relations Officers guidelines for corporate communications department during coronavirus crisis

Shifting roles

With conditions changing daily, if not hourly, the uncertainty about the future has made the role of the Corporate Communications Department (CCD) extremely vital for survival in the long term. The Public Relations Officer, or PRO for short, is the leader, after all, who most directly contributes to the intellectual capital of the company, the true strength of any organization.

Employees, investors, as well as all the contributors in the growth of the company in conducive times, must be kept closer now more than ever. Our experience in helping clients through both internal and external crises offers valuable actionable insights about the actions; PROs should take in the wake of the pandemic to put their companies on a sound footing and help reduce some of the fear and uncertainty.

 

Rewriting the communications code of conduct

Our in-house research team has reviewed a lot of case studies and the one thing that has come up on top is that the companies with strong communication fundamentals outperformed their competitors while coming out of previous crises –humanitarian, economic as well as socio-political.

While the present pandemic has been unprecedented and an entirely new rule book is being formed- with a new genre of communications being the new normal. Here are some points to ponder for communications during the Coronavirus Crisis –

 

Persistence and perseverance- How to address the imminent crisis

Companies have had to close their doors, albeit temporarily as the COVID-19 spread – leaving them under severe liquidity crunch and financial distress. As consumers are unable to make discretionary purchases, the communications team’s top responsibility is to straighten the messages going out. Now is not the time to hide behind the desks and cabins, but to roll up your sleeves and sit down with the marketing team and chalk out an action plan. Transparency in conveying the customers about your constraints in a tone that is emphatic yet sympathetic should be the core action plan.

 

Scenario planning

PROs can develop different scenarios based on the situations and potential paths of the spread, and roll out an internal as well as external communications plan.

A crisis is the most suitable time to bring out the leadership mettle. A leader who can be seen as standing with his team and managing the various challenges leading from the front would be perceived as strong, committed, and successful in all circumstances- even when the tides turn back in your favour! Bring out the small success stories and random acts of kindness as well as grit and determination of your team. From the office staff that is managing calls from home to finance team tapping into whatever available resources, your internal and external customers, as well as investors, would like to know how your team is facing the obstacles head-on.

 

Frameworking

All the teams of your company- finance, marketing, operations, and strategy, would need to rely on a range of scenario frameworks rather than individual KRAs. As different leaders present their point of view about two or maybe more scenario frameworks with multiple eventualities, it’s the role of the communications manager to come up with a uniform outlook that can include all concerns expressed as well as help articulate clear thresholds or trigger points or alternative action plans.

 

A well-networked professional PR company can bring the much needed unbiased approach to your communications strategy. Public relations firms that are experienced in crisis management have their ears to the ground as well as help cultivate excellent media relations to boost its reach and potential- reducing PROs’ concern of reaching the right platform at the right time to a considerable extent.

The goal should be to focus on the crisis’s actual and projected effects on the company, the actions being taken to protect the business interests and any changes to earlier earnings commitments.

Communication has always been the key to resolve any tricky situation, and the current situation is no different from the same. Connections with investors, suppliers, employees, as well as customers, are essential to demonstrate that the leadership is taking fast and resolute action based on their best understanding of the situation as well as their efforts.

A strategic communications plan worked out with the help of your public relations expert will help set a formal chain of command as well as priorities throughout the organization as well as act as a reinforcement of the leadership communiqué for all departments and business units to understand “why this matters now” and what is their specific role.

In order to be termed “Resilients” upon the return post this crisis, a strong communications strategy is the way forward.

Click here to understand more about how your company can weather out the pandemic and rise up a brand

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Dare To Win- How We did it in PR

Entrepreneurship is a voyage of self-discovery, which requires the optimum blend of hard work, financial acumen, the right resources at the right time, timing and luck. And most importantly—pluck. I am reminded of Walt Disney’s quote here:

Entrepreneurship is a story of passion, joy, angst, learning and unlearning. It’s definitely not an easy journey and no one can teach you how to traverse this journey. While books and management programs can give you broad guidelines on how to run a business, they cannot prepare you for the road ahead.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

Courage was my ticket to hop onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon 16 years ago. As the chief driver of K2, I have had the proud privilege of steering the company through many ups and downs and twists and turns with fortitude, thus embracing success along the way.

We believe every courageous step counts and K2’s journey is ample testimony to that.

The name stands tall

Let me start from the very beginning. The name ‘K2 Communications’ was coined after several deliberations, for we wanted a bold name that would stand the test of time.

Our gutsy vision of being second to none was inspired by the second highest peak in the world K2. ‘K2’ stands for ‘Knowledge Kingdom’, for I believe PR is all about knowledge. Over the years, the K2 team has developed a wisdom-based approach coupled with an uncompromising attitude towards ethical practices, which has earned the company a good reputation in the business.

Courage runs in our team

K2 has always believed in injecting fresh blood into the system, as new people bring in fresh

perspectives and the ability to shake established patterns. Whether it is working with clients or the media, our team has always risen to the challenge with audacity and confidence.

In the last 16 years, K2 has built an army of talented people who can adapt to any environment. This has helped us bag marquee clients like Wipro and Reliance Communications and subsequently live up to their expectation in every way.

Adapting to changes

The PR landscape is vastly different from what it was when we started our journey. The money market in 2003 was tight, and PR did not woo investors’ attention. But we did not let this deter our resolve to win as we managed to not only attract attention but also carve a defining niche for ourselves.

PR is all about packaging & managing information flow. A PR professional should know to converse well and mingle within the industry and become popular amongst the media. A well informed PR executive is most preferred by the client and media alike.

With the changing landscape in PR and social media taking a centre stage , a skill set in Digital Marketing and creative content is gaining momentum and today’s need of hour for all PR entrepreneurs.

The new millennium saw us ride through the dotcom bubble burst and recession subsequently with smart strategies and determination and emerged triumphant. 

Today, we are witnessing challenges of a different kind. The technology revolution is disrupting the industry in mind-blowing proportions and we are gearing ourselves to face a world where AI, IoT and blockchain will soon become the norm.

Prepping for the road ahead

As K2 stands at the cusp of an exciting growth trajectory, there is only one way forward: arise and adapt! We are eager to innovate and improvise to stay relevant and remain on top of the game. We are ever ready to learn—from experience and from the best in the business.  We will be the change the world wants to see. With digital media taking center-stage,we are investing in upskilling ourselves in social media marketing and generating creative content.

Needless to say that, in all this, we will dare to go that one step forward and create significant impact. But let me assure you that, even as we embrace new tech and skills,there will be no compromise on core hygiene factors such as commitment toquality and ethics and nurturing long-term relationships.

Birthdays are also a reminder to express our sincere gratitude to all our stakeholders- media, clients, partners, and peers, for their contribution in building this institution. It would be ungracious of me if I didn’t thank the K2 alumni, former colleagues, who have contributed in building our brand and are still hoisting our flag high while on their journey to different milestones. As we keep building fond memories, here at K2, every stone that paved the way to success matters. Thank you all for growing in this journey together!

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Consumer PR- No, it’s not Marketing!

How Consumer PR is different from marketing. By K2 Communications.
Public Relations is the missing piece of the puzzle to marketing efforts in reaching out to consumers.

Public relations revolve around the use of news and content to put forth a message about a product, a business, an organization or an endeavour using an effective medium to reach out to consumers. Over the years, PR has taken a lot of faces depending on the effectiveness of the communication channels. Public relations are all about storytelling and shaping a company’s image. But with technological advancements interfering and reshaping every aspect of communications and interaction, it is only fair to ask whether PR is really storytelling, non-advertising, image-shaping tool that we have known it to be?

For consumers, as well as for companies, the influence of effective public relations has been able to withstand the test of time. As companies aim for more ambitious depths in reaching out to the customers, more and more focus is shifting towards building and gaining an audience.

Public relations provide a fascinating and opportunistic landscape for building a brand. 

A consumer relations program is not a marketing initiative. Consumer relations program aims at developing positive relationships with consumers rather than selling a certain number of products. The loyalty won may help in higher sales; consumer relations is more of a public relations job than that of marketing.

The line between Marketing and Public Relations often gets blurred. Public relations and marketing do share some basic concepts like research methodology, finding the right target audiences, communication, and action plans as well as evaluation of various outcomes. Despite these similarities, the two have a fundamental difference, and that is while marketing is all about the product and is highly field-specific, PR is much broader.

PR takes into account aspects overlooked by marketing, like internal relations, surrounding environment and non-consumers in it, and overall consumer behaviour. Public relations require a deep understanding of the role each of these aspects plays within an organization. Public relations and marketing need to realign themselves and attempt to create a whole new field – “relationship marketing.” 

Relationship Marketing:

Relationship marketing is all about understanding that consumers make buying decisions based on their habit. The underlying principle is that customers want to be served, not sold. Usually, while making a purchase decision, consumers look for the following things:

  • Quality
  • Handling customer complaints
  • Crisis management
  • Safety of the product
  • Trading and business practices

Relationship marketing must work in the direction of delighting customers, so they become regular, repeat and loyal consumers. If you promise a consumer some benefits, they must meet consumer’s expectations and also maintain the customer base and handle service requests.

In today’s competitive environment, a company’s success depends on understanding your customers and exceeding their demands for service. With the internet, the world is shrinking, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate products. Profitability of a business depends on its ability to find, expand and retain valuable customers.

Everyone knows that it is far more cost-effective to build loyalty than to keep replacing existing customers. Valuing customers and making consumer relations a vital part of an organization’s PR strategy is extremely important as it helps tackle consumer issues effectively and create positive company perceptions.

Public relations involve communicating with the public, and your business will be subjected to a range of ethical and legal considerations. Every message released influences consumers’ opinions about you. Therefore, the public statements should be consistent with your brand and key messages.

If your PR efforts are focussed on crisis communications, you will be required to managing your reputation because of the situation or the issue. Effective consumer relations will help you tide over even the trickiest of the situations with ease.

How to launch an effective consumer PR campaign?

Staying true to your ethics and yet reasonably satisfy all consumers sounds like a tightrope walk. Maintaining one’s credibility while reducing the risks for potential damages to your reputation is very critical. Here are some tips:

  • Staying honest and consistent with your messages. Consumers today can easily make out double standards, distorted facts, and hypocritical statements.
  • Steer clear from paid media coverage. Effective consumer PR thrives on independent, third-party reports, stories and information. If you have to pay for good press, which means something is wrong at the very fundamental level with your product or service.
  • Maintain graceful composure with your competitors. Keeping your criticisms and disagreements with your competitors out of the spotlight is a great PR tactic.
  • Create platforms to interact with consumers. Consumers today want companies to be more proactive and keep up with their demands, or be left behind. As customers are turning to social media to communicate, it is imperative the companies reach out to them there.
  • Prepare a detailed digital PR plan- Today’s consumer engages with companies to give feedback, ask questions and discuss features, affecting their buying decisions. You can use this information that you gain during interactions and build relationships rather than just talking online. Growing relationships and attracting customers should be a part of the digital strategy of any PR effort.
  • Get influencers on board. Reliable third parties, backing the brand is a valuable function of consumer PR. It could be through a paid or unpaid agreement. Getting a brand an honourable mention or good reviews is the hallmark of effective digital PR.

Consumer PR is all about translating what the company wants to say and relay it in a manner that it becomes what consumers want to hear. Consumer PR is a company’s most valuable asset in today’s market. It helps a company position itself for success and weather the storms in the future.

Background photo created by mindandi – www.freepik.com<a href=”http://Designed by mindandi / Freepik“>http://<a href=”http://www.freepik.com”>Designed by mindandi / Freepik</a>

About the author:

Prashanth – He brings on-board his enriched journalistic perspective to K2 communications. Armed with a Degree in Sociology and a Masters in Philosophy Research from the University of Hyderabad, where his thesis was on Human Rights, his vast experience in the field of writing, reporting and editing in print media is highly valued and appreciated by our clients.

The balancing act- PR- the place where women are on par with men

As women try to find more balance in every sphere of their lives, how is PR industry faring?

The Public Relations (PR) industry has been one of the key sectors which have continuously pushed the envelope for greater inclusivity of women. According to a study conducted by Bureau of
labour statics, the PR industry in the US comprises of almost 61.3% of women “specialists” which is a far cry from the business and financial sectors, where women make up 43.6 percent of the workforce.

Every year, International Women’s day hopes to honor the women for their contribution to society and the world. None has made such an impact as the theme for this year- striving to achieve #BalanceforBetter.

We all have seen how a colleague was denied a good pay hike because she was soon to go on maternity leave, or two employees joining at the same level had varied pay structure because one of them was a female. As we applaud the little victories of these heroes, we also need to put an end to the bias that exists against women only based on their gender.

Do you think a female tennis player works any lesser on her game than a male player? Why then, should there be a difference in the prize money? Or closer home, take the example of Indian Women’s cricket team. They are playing shoulder to shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts in the same playgrounds under similar conditions, but the media coverage they get is maybe 2 or 4 columns while a full page is devoted to the men in blue.

Discrimination comes in many forms, and as the overt ways of discrimination are no more possible, the society has resorted to subtle means of conveying the message. A girl from the time she is born is expected to make way for her brother, whether he is younger or older to her. Women are allotted a “quota” in entrance exams at reputed colleges, which essentially means that they are “presumed” to not succeed on their merit and abilities. 

We have made women to vote, to opt for same courses as their male counterparts, to apply for same jobs, but then we create glass ceilings and boundaries and nominate them as “fairer, weaker sex” based on our patriarchal notions.

As the world enters the exciting phase of grassroots activism and global action in this regard, the call to build a gender-balanced world –  #BalanceforBetter resonates like a war-cry where equal opportunities also mean equal growth.

Public relations: A place where balance is nurtured and celebrated

Gender balance is an essential tool for the smooth functioning of society, communities and organizations. A balanced and diverse workforce also leads to increased business performance and higher retention of the employees. Acknowledging its benefits, today, more and more companies in several sectors are creating policies to create a more gender inclusive environment at their respective organizations.

The Public Relations industry (PR), has been one of the key sectors which have continuously pushed the envelope for greater inclusivity of women. According to a study conducted by Bureau of labour statics, the PR industry in the US comprises of almost 61.3% of women “specialists” which is a far cry from the business and financial sectors, where women make up 43.6 percent of the workforce.

Why is PR becoming a safe workplace haven for women?

There are several reasons why women are choosing PR as a career option, but several reasons such as people driven atmosphere, skill development, challenging roles and positions, relationship building and expanding lines of communications in which women have historically excelled have assisted in garnering women’s interest in this field.  

To be an expert PR specialist, PR professionals are not only required to be good listeners and excellent team players but also have to be strong advocates and believers of their client’s work. These qualities are often inherent in many women which makes them emphatic communicators and efficient managers. The Bureau of labour statics data further highlights that women run 30% of all PR agencies and 59% of all PR managers are female showcasing how over the decades the industry has helped in empowering women in taking up leadership roles.

The ground rules for achieving a better balance:

PR firms can further increase women participation and can create more opportunities for them by adopting a few measures –

  • Increasing flexibility: Maintaining a balance between their careers and life often becomes a huge challenge for women as several responsibilities like eldercare and childcare often fall on their shoulders. Many women prefer opting for workplaces which offer more flexibility.  Hence by providing benefits like a paid maternity leave, four-day working week and telecommuting can further assist the PR agencies in not only retaining the right talent but also in attracting one. For example, by not trying to schedule a meeting after 7:30 P.M. can further increase the ease for women.
  • Acknowledging the hard work and celebrating success: Often shy and sensitive, women have been found to less likely self-promote themselves and their work. Initiatives such as sharing the news of a new client win by a woman employee, a successful campaign which was headed by a woman employee and promoting her contribution to a company on the various social media handles of the organization can be a huge confidence booster for the women employees and can encourage them to be loyal to their company.

Gender-inclusive policies like these will further promote gender equity and growth in the industry.

This year on the occasion of International Women’s Day, let’s take steps to create more opportunities for women in the workplace and work towards building a gender-neutral ecosystem.

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

My language, My rules: Integrating Vernacular Languages in Public Relations in India

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’

Nelson Mandela

With 23 major languages in India, written in 13 different scripts, with over 720 dialects, linguistic diversity has never been a bigger challenge for public relations professionals anywhere in the world.

There are sound reasons for the existence of such diverse languages, yet most public relations companies appear to be intimidated by the complexity of the socio-demographic landscape.

Public relations executives swear by taking the safe route and cater for majority understanding, creating all campaigns and communications in English, only to realise that perhaps they should also be valuing the vernacular, creating content in mother-tongue and cashing in on the ensuing return-on-investment (ROI).

Value of vernacular communications

Whether it is writing a press release or a pitch note, authored articles or trend stories, use of effective vernacular communication in public relations helps inculcate cultural insight, nuance, and context. It helps a PR manager show that their client and the brand understand and resonate with their consumers.

Vernacular public relations can help build long-lasting and profitable relationships of trust with their market. Vernacular communication has the potential to add huge value to a brand. Global brands can successfully localise, and local brands can become more relevant to their target market if they talk in the language their customers can relate to.

Using local language helps in ensuring a high level of engagement, respect, and understanding of the targeted customer. The emotional connect that vernacular comments, quotes bring has a positive impact on the overall brand equity.

Readers place extra value on native advertising and place trust in it in a way that they may not necessarily feel about an English campaign, as most people in the country still converse and often think, in their mother-tongue. Talking in their mother tongue instils a sense of pride and ownership which far outweighs the initial investment of creating a vernacular campaign.

Innovation in Public Relations in the era of globalisation

Vernacular public relations offers an opportunity to view a PR campaign from a new angle and provides a lot of scope for true innovations in the way communications are handled.

The world is becoming a global market for companies who have a common goal- to sell their products or services to as many consumers as possible. Globalisation also means that companies are now addressing an incredibly diverse target, with many different languages, and more importantly- cultures. International Public relations in the new millennium is about understanding, accommodating and harnessing the cultural differences for global brand building.

Telecommunication (Telcos) , consumer durable companies as well as FMCG companies today engage with the consumer speaking a language of the masses.

K2 communications recently achieved noteworthy success for a healthcare client by refocusing the PR strategy with a focus on vernacular media. By retargeting the release with regional translated press releases, the client witnessed astounding ROI on their PR efforts in a short period of time.

Vernacular Public Relations- a must have across all mediums

Native public relations is significant because the target audience is given eh content they want to consume. The challenge on content creation for vernacular language is on the written side, especially for native quotes, comments, and press releases. From the cost perspective as well, it is easier and cheaper to create vernacular language content. Your target audience no longer wants just to read, they want to watch contextual, real-time, user-generated content.

In a country where only 10% of total population interacts in English, and only 74% are literate, the message from a PR desk needs to jump through several hoops of communication distortion- illiteracy, lack of connecting, contextual misunderstanding or pure ignorance. The challenge is to remain impactful, relevant and cross the language barrier to reach the target audience without distorting the core values of a brand.

Vernacular content is also becoming a big mantra for successful digital marketing. Traditional PR methods neither expect nor ask the audience to think. However, they do want the public to respond- a feeling, an impression, a desire, and finally a commitment to take some action but ironically, unless all the fodder conveyed in a language the target understands, it does not result in any thought.

To effectively influence attitudes,  and outcomes in the public domain, including the crucial public opinion and reputation management, PR executives must keep a tab on the local pulse.

According to a 2017 report by KPMG and Google, “Indian Languages — Defining India’s Internet,” there were 234 million Indian-language internet users and 175 million English users in 2016. By 2021, the gap between the two groups is expected to widen. Users of Indian languages are expected to more than double to 536 million, while English users will increase to only 199 million. Nine out of 10 new internet users between 2016 and 2021 will use local languages, said the report. (Source)

As the Indian technology industry builds the internet for the next 1 billion non-English users friendlier public relations communication strategies are the only way forward for the brands looking to reach out.

It, therefore, makes business sense for Public relations companies to encourage their clients to become pan-Indian, linguistically.

  • Additional Resource: Ordinary People Can Reason: A Rhetorical Case for including Vernacular Voices in Ethical Public Relations Practice, Calvin L. Troup Journal of Business Ethics Vol. 87, No. 4 (Jul. 2009), pp. 441-453

  • Image source: Mashable India

    About the Author:

    Bulbul Satsangi – She is a Digital Strategy Consultant at K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd. A Finance professional in her previous avatar, Bulbul, entered the arena of content writing to soothe her creative energy. In the past 5 years, she has worked on all the aspects of the internet and helped many businesses establish their online identity.

The Changing PR Landscape

The suspension of two talented young cricketers recently due to their off-field demeanour points to two pertinent things: one, professionalism and success are not just about performance on the field, and two, the pressing need for sound PR (public relations) advice for people under constant public glare. Whatever is the nature of the recent episode, there is no denying the fact that professional efforts are required to build a public persona—to ensure the person is socially aware and responsible, gender sensitive, and doesn’t offend anyone.

Undoubtedly, PR has become a critical strategy of any brand management exercise, more so today than ever—whether the brand is a celebrity, a politician, a product, a service or even a nation.

But the role of PR today is not what it used to be many years ago. Today it has taken on a newer and bigger dimension, starkly different from what it used to be.

Transition in the last few decades

In the early 70s, the PROs, as they were called, were mostly seen in government departments, banks, and PSUs. They were mainly liaison officers, transport managers and sometimes travel agents too. In short, the PRO was an odd-jobs person with a status like an executive secretary to the chairman or managing director, accompanying the Bureaucrat to ministry level meetings.

Over the years, with outsourcing becoming more commonplace, PR was no longer an in-house function. As companies understood the importance of PR in the competitive marketplace, the task was outsourced to professional agencies well-versed in the art of managing people.

The mundane role became more well-defined. Media relations became a vital part of the job, comprising assignments like creating press release content, reaching out to the media, arranging press conferences and meetings of company spokespersons with the press, maintaining professional relationships with journalists, and attending to Public Affairs functions like lobbying with the government for positive business output & Media advocacy to influence the policy bills.

With so much conversation happening online, and in traditional media too, the role of the PR professional has transformed significantly to encompass a gamut of functions. The PR professional now has to don multiple hats, that of an image consultant, a brand manager, a liaison officer, and a media coordinator, among many others. This means PR professionals have to upskill themselves in technology, social media etiquette and other New Age skills.

Let’s look at the skills that modern-day PR professionals have to possess in their repertoire.

Articulate and analytical

Today, a PR executive has to be more understandable, interpret better and be a good conversationalist too.

Socially savvy and globally aware

As companies go global, PR professionals have to be more aware of what works in a genuinely international set-up, transcending boundaries of language, geography, and region. Knowledge of diverse cultures, awareness of social norms and nuances across different regions, and language proficiency are big plusses in today’s age.

Well-informed about various topics

People who engage in forums convene debates and moderate panel discussions are sought after by corporate.

Managing media      

Some PR functions never go obsolete, and this is one of them. PR professionals should be able to talk to the press and present their views in a professional manner and network with journalists across the world to strengthen the organisation with positive media imprints.

Media education

A good PR person should train CXOs on how to handle the media and draft relevant question-and-answer sessions for them. The training should involve aspects like gender sensitisation, social awareness and avoid stereotyping.

 Crisis handling

Today, thanks to technology, any situation can blow up into a crisis in no time. PR professionals should be able to think on their feet and rise to the situation to save the day without getting hassled.

Tech-savvy

Needless to say, the PR professional should be aware of trends in technology, social media, and digital marketing to advise clients appropriately.

People-centric

No matter what changes have happened, one thing has remained constant. PR is still about people, and it will continue to be so. Thus, empathy, sensitivity, patience and tolerance are essential traits that need to be nurtured to maintain relationships for a lifetime.

Today, PR includes relationship management and image building by managing media and information flow. It also involves strong internal communication across all levels of the organisation, consulting, and engaging in trade body associations for networking opportunities. As a result of this, PR has become more complex, intricate and challenging than earlier.

 

Adapted from the article authored by Mr. Shiv Devraaj first published in Reputation Today – bit.ly/RTViews155 

Image Courtesy: <a href=”https://pngtree.com/”>Graphics from pngtree.com</a>

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Why current scenario of the Indian media market requires PR agencies to do self PR?

According to a recent report released by the Public Relations Consultants Associations of India (PRCAI), the PR Industry in the country grew by 18% in the year 2017 with digital, social media and content-driven campaigns contributing as much as 29% of the revenue for the PR firms. (Source)  The report further shows that the industry is expected to touch Rs. 2, 100 crores by the year 2020. Several sectors such as retail, automobile, and FMCG are currently the key revenue generators for the PR firms and are driving its growth.

Although the industry is witnessing a boom, the awareness about the industry and its services are still at a very nascent stage. In India, the industry is still budding, and its services are often confused with advertising. Consumed with securing coverage for clients, PRs are notoriously bad at promoting their agencies and are often underselling themselves. This happens to be one of the biggest dilemma PR companies are facing today.

The devotion to our clients and their products allows us to give the best in class service and deliver them adequate representation in their industries. However, the same is not repeated when it comes to service ourselves.

Today, Self-promotion for PR industries is just as important as securing successes for others. PRing in the current scenario doesn’t always refer to advocating for puff pieces.

An engaging video, content, online and offline social media campaign can not only help in getting traction for the company’s website but can also increase its awareness among the several stakeholders.

The world is moving beyond press releases and press conferences, and this highlights on the need for PR agencies to adopt an integrated approach to self PR. Taking measures to attract new audiences, building the reputations of our agencies, and increasing the understanding and awareness about the industry will also ensure in bringing an appreciation of PR as a whole.

Promoting our work also leads to better client relationships and helps in boosting the morale of the company. A case study on how an agency successfully managed a crisis if promoted across all media channels, for example, not only brings the agency in the limelight but also showcases the hard work and effort of the team, bringing them more recognition. Acknowledgment of the work done by the employees and their contribution towards the company’s success not only promotes happy culture in the company but also help in garnering the interest of the new clients and employees. Talent retention is one of the key challenges which the industry faces today and thus a ‘slap on the back’ by both the internal and external stakeholder’s acts as a confidence booster leading higher employee retention.

Experts in reputation management communications consultancy, brand building, content marketing, and social media, we as Public Relations representatives understand how the media works. It is time that agencies utilised these skills to benefit their organizations.

How should agencies adopt Self- PR?

  1. Allocating budget and resources for marketing the agency
  2. Brainstorm the story angles on which you like to promote your agency
  3. Sharing the success stories, media clips, testimonials and employee experiences on all the social media handles of the company including WhatsApp and Instagram
  4. Participating in industry stories if the company following unique employee-friendly practices, undertaking CSR activities and adopting any green initiatives etc.
  5. Making use of several innovative social media tools such as GIF’s, memes to put forward your views about a recent political, social or an industrial issue.
  6. Organizing summits featuring experts and leaders in the domain of marketing and

Communications to give insight to the people about the PR industry

‘If I were down to my last dollar I would spend it on public relations’ said Bill Gates. What we as the PR industry should realize is that he did not just mean it for his organization, but this is very much applicable to the PR industry as a whole.

Background Photos from <a href=”https://pngtree.com/freebackground/business-technology-background-material_415885.html”>pngtree.com</a>

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Who is writing the new code for Public Relations?

Public Relations professionals are tasked with a paradoxical feat- “How to create brands that are “human” and relatable to their customers, yet, employ the latest technological advancements like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning into their strategies and services?”

We live in a fast-paced technology-enabled world where both- business and personal life is trying to thrive in a socially charged atmosphere. My truism could be another person’s “fake news.” Confrontation on social media is the latest game we all play, and any public comment could be misrepresented or misinterpreted, leading to serious tarnishing of a business’s reputation and brand.

A negative digital footprint which is the result of a single misstep on social media platforms used to spread messages far and wide may follow the company, the brand, and the leaders forever.

Companies and businesses are being extra cautious of what they do or say, but at the same time, they are vying for their customer’s attention. And while they struggle to gain mindshare as well as market share, they look for newer, creative ways to cut the noise and make their story an interesting value proposition for their customers. All this while the competitors are waiting with bated breath to pounce at a small error or copy their every move.

Who is a Communications Officer?

A CO/ CCO is a company’s eyes, ears, and mouthpiece to the outside world. They are actively engaged with employees, customers, partners, investors, media and other stakeholders and are in the best position to effectively manage a brand’s reputation.

By monitoring the pulse of the market, CO’s predict future trends or issues that might impact the business.

How the present scenario affects a CCO’s job ?

The role of the CO is not just restricted to generate attention and positive press coverage for the company anymore. The person at the help has to promote, protect and preserve the brand’s reputation.

In today’s high-tech, aggressive environment, protection needs to take precedence over promotion.

Apart from traditional media management, CO today has to broaden the scope of responsibilities to include non-traditional media engagement like establishing a strong social media presence and having more direct interactions with customers.

Today’s customers make choices about a brand based on criteria that go way beyond product features and price. Therefore, the communications with this audience, as well as internal communications within the company have to be expertly engineered by the communications officer.

Today, public relations for companies and businesses is all about creating a culture and vision that exists within as well as outside the organisation. A brand success story that everyone loves to be a part of and contribute.

6 Steps that CCO’s can take for an effective PR strategy

  1. Convey the vision & values of the company- Knowing what makes a company stand apart is important for today’s customers and is a part of a purchase decision. The CO has to share the company’s vision, purpose, values, belief, and strategy in a story that resonates with its customers.
  2. Engaging and empowering employees- Employees are the living breathing advertisements of a company’s corporate values.CO has to ensure that employees speak with one voice on the company’s vision and goals and has to collaborate with human resources and other functions to instil pride in the company they represent.
  3. Modernising the approach towards traditional media- The CO has to ensure that traditional media, especially the outlets that regularly cover industry news have a solid relationship. To make sure the company stays true to its character and values while shaping public opinion, the CO has to maintain a positive relationship with traditional media.
  4. Take the lead on owned media- Strong Co’s don’t wait on the sidelines for someone else to engage with their business, they take the lead with compelling digital content and attract new customers while maintaining a relationship with existing ones. Leading the pack to develop and deploy thought leadership to influence perception and behaviours.
  5. Double up as the communications coach– Not every one of the top brass in the company is an expert communicator. The CO may have to guide the senior management on how they can manage their own personal brand, and how to engage with various stakeholders to maintain consistency
  6. Take risks-The only risk to fear is the risk you didn’t take.” Nothing great can happen without risk. The CO challenges conventional wisdom, seek out opportunities that competitors might find too risky to attempt and ask uncomfortable questions. Leading by example, and providing support and counsel to the CEO and leadership team without fear is one of the most essential traits today.

Now more than ever, strong communications counsel and assessment of opportunities and threats for the company from the CCO is of chief importance to establish an impactful PR strategy.

With 15 years of experience in managing top-class PR for its clients, K2 has established itself as a one-stop solution provider for all PR related services. Contact us today!

About the Author:

Bulbul Satsangi – She is a Digital Strategy Consultant at K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd. A Finance professional in her previous avatar, Bulbul, entered the arena of content writing to soothe her creative energy. In the past 5 years, she has worked on all the aspects of the internet and helped many businesses establish their online identity.

New Year resolutions for the Indian PR Professional

“Resolutions are meant to be broken,” you say? How about these that can not only be kept but fulfilled? A PR professional’s checklist for the New Year.
  •  Spend more time with your digital followers:

A post here, a like there, won’t really work anymore. Be more involved; social media is only getting bigger and more sophisticated in the New Year, people can see through your networking sham. Remember-

Your Network = Your Net Worth

  • Lose weight of dead practices and processes

AI is your next best friend. Make yourself AI ready. You will thank me for this one in the future. Your embracing the new technology will unburden you of the dead weight of mundane, no-brainer tasks that can be taken care of by machines. Explore and fix black holes in your processes that sap away your creative energy and time.

  • Work harder on the brand image

Even the PR needs the right PR to flourish. Bring the smart strategies closer to home, practice what you preach. Create a brand image for your company that is instantly relatable with the services you offer. More importantly, live up to your brand’s ethos and maintain your brand identity all around the year.

  • Have a more productive relationship with the clients

Another year of servicing clients and helping them achieve their business goals with effective PR. Connecting with clients at all levels across all platforms is super challenging, but it is most rewarding too. Making inroads with their in-house comms team and having an open channel of communication will ensure all are on the same page, working towards the same goal. Always think long-term, and earn loyalty points from your clientele!

  • Take diversity seriously

PR thrives on making sense from the

chaos. Bring the chaos into your office. Welcome people from diverse backgrounds into your team. Build a team that truly reflects the values your PR firm stands for. Gender, experience, backgrounds all help in bringing a unique perspective to every assignment. Diverse is the way forward.

  • Be real, don’t fake- while pitching to media

A pet peeve of most journalists is that PR professionals are least enthusiastic about their client’s news, but try and fake it as if it is the top headline for the next day!  Pitch it in the right light, and journalists will be more than happy to take it forward! Keep it real, and don’t fake what you don’t believe in. Personalise (aka frame) journalist’s pitches to get the best results, for example.

  • Nurture your alumni relations

“Once a PR professional, always a PR professional.” Touch base with all your alumni, you need them to be your ex-insiders now looking from outside. They could be your best critics, helping you in course correction because they have seen and lived inside your world. To broaden horizons, get your alumni back in your active contacts book. Interact, meet, network, discuss, there is a lot they can still do for you!

  • Create a healthy work-life balance

Go out, have fun, grab life with both hands, and live it to your fullest. That is the only way to bring the best of you at your work, day-after-day for the next full year. Better time management, focussing, and prioritizing will help you keep your clients, as well as your family, happy!

  • Keep your  word for everything you do

Whether it is your professional or personal matter, your word is your reputation. If you make a commitment, fulfill it. You should contribute towards the growth and the major objective and responsibility on your shoulders is to increase business, or in other words- concentrate on the growth trajectory.

In his bestselling book Psycho-Cybernetics, author Dr. Maxwell Maltz says the “human mind takes almost exactly 21 days to adjust to a major life change.” Even though his research was originally on traumatic life events, he claims the principle applies “universally” and works just as well on positive changes.

If you can stick with it for only 21 days, you will have an excellent chance to succeed in achieving your goal because you changed just one habit. Commitment is key!

What is your new year resolution? Do you have an action plan for it? Leave us a comment!

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

©K2Communications Pvt Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction of excerpts or parts of this article without expressed permission from and due credit to the author is strictly prohibited.

Why green is a great hue for your company’s image

Gogin green, a great idea for boosting your corporate image!

Thinking of going green? It can boost your company’s image too!

Going Green means being environmentally conscious. Today’s consumers have become more eco-friendly, and there is a significant increase in demand for green products and services.

When your company has a specifically targeted “go-green” message that you can associate with your brand, this message has the potential to create a smart, distinctive image in the current market.

Improve your corporate image/brand’s image

In today’s ecologically mindful environment, consumers are more susceptible to PR efforts from businesses that can show their green initiatives. By promoting your support for the environment, you can expand your audience. Today’s consumers love to support companies that take Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives seriously, and when your business embraces a new, eco-friendly philosophy, you earn a positive reputation as well as achieve a deeper connection with your customers.

What going green does to your company’s image?

Today’s customers have everything available to them at their fingertips. They don’t want just the product or services from the brand they prefer, but a little extra goes a long way in keeping them hooked to the brand of their choice.

Eco campaigns allow companies to give back to society, and help have a deeper connection between the brand and customers. Through these campaigns, companies can show the human side of their brand, which helps bring people together through a shared interest or concern.

Integrating Eco-empathy in your PR campaigns

Allowing QR enabled tickets is done by most multiplex companies, and it has only helped them strengthen their green image. Any changes made in your business to incorporate a green structure, like reducing the wastage of paper, implementing environment-friendly processes, reducing your carbon footprint, associating your brand with a green charity, all can enhance a positive brand image.

In the West, there is even a concept of green web hosting, where hosts use renewable energy, purchase carbon offsets, and plant trees to subsidize their carbon output!

From integrated promotion to basic signage and green practices, like reducing plastic wastage, shows that you are making the little changes, necessary towards a healthier, safer planet.

Be wary of token gestures though. Today’s discerning consumers can see through fake concerns, and they will take it out on social platforms against your brands. Remember, going green is not just a PR stunt that you should do every year, it also helps in reducing costs. By investing in renewable energy, recycling waste and water, you can save a lot of money spent on operational expenses. The initial set up costs may be high, but rewards in terms of faithful clientele, longer-standing relationships with your costumer-base are almost immediate and send an instant positive eco-message about your brand.

Therefore, if you want to put your brand on the map and boost recognition, investing time, money and your resources into green initiatives and projects can help!

The 5 pronged strategy to invest in a green future:  

To succeed in green initiatives and optimize the PR efforts, companies should focus on these 5 elements:

  • Vision: Being actionable and clear about what the green action will be.
  • Endorse: Senior leadership should endorse the initiative wholeheartedly and help spread the word.
  • Strategize: Cause messaging should be consistent and should cleverly keep the focus on the brand.
  • Assign accountability: Set parameters, performance indicators that can help in judging the effectiveness of the green initiatives as well as PR campaigns.
  • Measure effectiveness: The results should be quantifiable for their impact on ROI.

Some other benefits of going green:

  • Staying a step ahead of government regulations: Green initiatives will keep you prepared before they become part of the legislation by the government.
  • Motivate your employees: Employees of the companies believing in giving back to the society and environment can relate better to their company. They know they work for a company that cares, which is a huge morale booster.
  • You save on cost: Eco-friendly initiatives will ensure you can save a lot on your utility bills and overhead expenses.
  • Attract talent: You may even be able to attract talented employees who will admire you for your eco-friendly policies.

Watch out for these loopholes

  • The practices that will help you go green will also help you create a better environment for your business and your brand. The best PR initiatives when a company goes green are those that appeal to a broader, heterogeneous demographic segment, consisting of existing as well as potential prospects. But a keen focus on your most passionate and profitable segments is also critical.
  • Though opportunities to “Go Green” exist in all industry verticals, make sure you clearly understand how far you can stretch based on your brand’s core equity. A Cab rental service primarily running diesel cars cannot harp about going green without bringing in shared cab services.
  • Be careful of what message you wish to convey and what you want the wider audience to not focus on. Being associated with any other company known for having a poor ecological image can end up as a PR disaster for your business too.

By paying attention to customers and supporting the environmental causes which they strongly identify with not only benefits your brand’s image, it helps the planet too. After all, and you want to let your customers know that your company cares. Going green is not just celebrated by customers; your peers will recognise your CSR initiative as an essential part of your business plan.

 

K2 Communications Pvt Ltd. has been in the business of helping clients successfully embrace technology changes and the ever-changing media landscape by employing innovative tactics ethically and with integrity for the last 15 years.

We have the strategies and tools to help clients claim their positions as industry leaders. If you’re in healthcare, education, technology or any other industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact K2 Communications today!

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

 

 

Artificial Intelligence & Public Relations- The Game has just Begun!

Artificial Intelligence & PR - Blog by K2communications“(Artificial Intelligence is) either the best or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity “Stephen Hawking

Talk about artificial intelligence in Public relations, and you would either get blank stares or talks about how machines will one day rule the world. Many people are afraid that AI could make their PR jobs obsolete. The fear not entirely unjustified either.

Look at the way AI has changed the way we communicate and get things done. From Google Assistant which can tell you a joke to self-driving cars by Uber, there is no industry that has not been affected and influenced by artificial intelligence. AI has brought in a revolution where machines are replacing jobs us as humans have been doing ourselves for decades.

Mckinsey & Company estimated that around 45% of paid activities might get replaced with technologies that are currently not yet fully developed! In the US, a whopping $2 trillion in US wages could be wiped out as a result of automation.

Before you hop on to jobseekers bandwagon and start sprucing up your resume, here is a quick look at what the furor is all about.

Wikipedia defines Artificial Intelligence (AI) as – the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence.

How does AI fit into Public Relations (PR)?

Before thinking that AI will rob you off your job, let’s first understand how the use of technology in PR functions can revolutionize the entire PR agency ecosystem.

Imagine getting your computer does all these aspects of your work-

  • Writing data-driven stories,
  • auto-creating media lists,
  • scenario assessment to help in crisis management,
  • transcription,
  • prediction of media trends, and
  • social media management,

As you are reading this, the wheels are already moving. Companies like AirPR and Trendkite have started providing everything from cutting-edge research, analytics, to PR measurement and PR attribution tools, delivering audience insights, targeted outreach and impact analysis right into the mailboxes of their clients.

In more than one way, using AI and machine learning is helping PR agencies deliver quality information that enhances how they do their job and augments their client servicing abilities.

AI is removing mundane, monotonous work from the PR agency’s hands and giving them more tools to organize their job better. For example, creating media lists, arranging meetings, writing standard follow up emails, all this can be handed off to machines. The author of this piece got a chance to check out the immense possibilities of HubSpot CRM and came out thoroughly impressed. There indeed are areas where machines can do routine work better than humans.

However, soft skills aspects like relationship building, creative strategy development, building trust, and telling a story- remain in the domain of PR professionals, as at the end of the day, we are dealing with humans across the table.

AI can help sharpen your stories

When you write a press release, you need to use your experience, powers of anticipation, and intuition to framing the release that effectively conveys your client’s brief. AI cannot take your place. What it might help you with is

  • Finding and validating facts
  • Assessing the target market
  • Researching the trends
  • Timing the release

This blog on AIRPR sums it up well:

“By taking advantage of massive quantities of data and using AI to draw insights on it, PR pros can now . . .  cut through the clutter and find useful, relevant data, quantify buzz and press hits, properly attribute revenue, know which tactics are working, spot brand and revenue indicators and identify PR funnel accelerators.”

AI can help improve digital DNA

Data is the DNA for all PR companies.AI can help PR firms to sift through big data and help them assess readership’s core attributes, for example. PR companies will be able to process their data at a rapid speed, giving them improved insight on what their consumers want, and sharpening their messages to be more robust and direct.

Google is already doing it. With YouTube targeting ads based on your search and the content that you are watching, optimization is happening in real-time, producing higher results due to the messaging being relevant and pertinent for the consumer.

AI will help in a focused, customised approach to journalists and social influencers

When it comes to reaching out to social and news media influencers, PR professionals always are in a quandary. Too generic a pitch and the influencer might go ahead and ignore you, while too specific and you may not reach out to a majority of them. Besides, who has the time to curate a hyper-relevant, eye-ball grabbing pitch for each influencer?

As we shared in our hugely popular Framing- A double-edged sword in PR content strategy, every individual’s perception of reality is guided by many factors, which themselves are dynamic.

Now imagine a world where, by using AI, we can analyze previous articles written by social and news influencers to find out who is often writing about healthcare or education. Using AI techniques like natural language processing, we can even curate a list of these specific influencers, analyze their writing styles, and find their core focus on most of the articles written by them. With this list, we can see the most relevant match of the likelihood of which influencers will be interested in covering the story.

As you maintain the relationships with these influencers, AI will also help in sorting out who have higher response rates to your pitches and would suggest them to you for future. From pitch analytics to automated pitch personalization, media outreach strategies could be automated to add more effective tools in a PR agency’s kit.

AI can help in assessing Brand Insights and analytics

As our world is becoming more and more visual, unless important news and social posts don’t have images or videos to hook up the target audience, all the PR efforts might be in vain. It might not be possible to accurately pinpoint the number of times a brand was mentioned in the form of images, photos, blog posts or videos unless you have someone explicitly sifting through analytics software. And still, at least images will not be a part of that purview.

Now imagine what it does to a CEO’s PR.

If you have an image recognition technology that can automatically detect faces, as well as actually name the people, brands and even products within the images, it can ensure that in addition to monitoring the text mentions on social media and news, you are also able to capture, record and report visual impressions of the brand to your client.

Any positive or negative experience shared by consumers by posting photos can be covered in this way, whether they have hashtagged you or not.

AI can help gauge market sentiments before, during and after the events

Although PR is not as data-centric as many, AI can be helpful in gathering and analyzing data to help demonstrate the ROI of a campaign.

PR pros are often making data-driven decisions based on the past performance of campaigns, social media exposure, and competitors benchmarking. This means having to build reports on all of these activities by wading through an ocean of data from a variety of sources, turning spreadsheets and charts into easily understandable graphs.

Media Intelligence tools are already here, and by detecting patterns and changes over time, AI lets PR firms translate trends into words in a matter of minutes. Sentiment analysis is an integral part of any progressive PR company report about brand perception. Traditionally it involved a ton of tedious manual work, market research, and still, the results will be inaccurate as they are often based on “cumulative sentiment” and often ignore the grey areas.

New advancements in sentiment analysis combined with natural language processing help drill down to each specific person, product, place, or company in an article and even analyze the surrounding sentence for how the writer feels particularly about the brand.

For example: “ I loved the website, but the delivery of my product took a long time” by a journalist, could be bad news if you are the supplier of the product, but good news if you are into website design and development, and for the PR firm on either side, it’s a lot of work and PR intervention!

AI helps in designing intelligent but smart tools for PR

PR companies today need quick as well as intelligent tools that answer the requirements of fast-paced PR accounts executives and also cater to the most complicated in-house communication department. AI can help design tools that understand a PR executive’s workflow and offer an error-free process by eliminating duplicity of tasks.

AI can help in automating the mundane daily chores

A significant chunk of a PR professional’s time is spent on scheduling calendars, structuring meeting notes, and summarizing actions, to-dos, delivery dates, creating Gantt charts, and following up with everyone concerned… If all this is automated, the productivity of PR people will dramatically improve, and the risk of delays, errors, miscommunication, and losing it in translation will be minimum.

Problems in introducing AI in PR

Artificial Intelligence is mathematical, based on iterations and logic; it needs patterns to build hypotheses, algorithms, and programs.

For AI to be able to add value to PR, it will require vast amounts of data. Something like Amazon does when you look for a laptop; you are also shown accessories, frequently bought together items, even laptop bags. To help AI reach that level where it tells you what to pitch and to whom, there is a significant hurdle- context.

PR is potently context-driven, and recommendations might work for those who have no prior experience or time, to do research, but the best PR agencies are known for doing their homework, and most likely won’t rely on technology to select the best pitch for them. For AI to add value to an experienced, seasoned PR professional, it will require a lot of data and training. A real AI system is the one that can learn. By improving on past iterations, these systems get smarter and more aware, allowing them to enhance their knowledge and potential. And this learning will be provided by the PR professionals themselves!

To sum it up, AI is not an existential threat to PR professionals, yet.

There is a widely held belief, that machines cannot, have the creative ability and emotional insight to supersede the PR professional. Human intelligence combined with cognitive computing skills renders the best outcomes. PR analytics is useless if the output doesn’t tell you the story on the parameters specified by your clients. AI is a helpful assistant for PR pros, which allows them to focus more on developing and executing creative strategies to create better brand awareness, stronger audience engagement, and influential thought leadership. Although you don’t need a degree in computer science to build an AI strategy, PR pros can’t sit on the sidelines and let AI takeover their decisions without their input.

 “A bot can’t lay claim to emotional intelligence, a cornerstone of all PR work. Teams employing AI handling external communication would be wise to have plans to manage reputation should anything go awry…Humans build trust with humans — not bots.”

 Ivan Ristic, Diffusion, in PRWeek 

Here is how you can take the first steps towards AI implementation.

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

©K2Communications Pvt Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction of excerpts or parts of this article without expressed permission from and due credit to the author is strictly prohibited.

 

Can PR ever be 100% ethical?

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism released their 2018 Global Communications Report – aptly named “The Evolution of Ethics” where public relations students and professionals worldwide were surveyed about the role of ethics in public relations (PR).

Some interesting insights about the current public relations landscape were revealed which also reflects on how ethics will impact the future of the PR industry. Here is a findings snapshot:

  • 70% of professionals believed the PR industry is set for drastic changes over the next 5 years
  • Only 36% of these professionals think that their companies are ready for the change.

Driving forces of change in the PR industry

The top three drivers of the change in the next 5 years according to the survey are

  • Evolving Media Landscape– 64% of respondents said they are sure the average consumer isn’t equipped to distinguish between owned, paid, shared, and earned media exposure. 60% feel the average consumer won’t even care if these are distinguishable.
  • Technological Innovations– New technology has changed the media landscape. Therefore, the scope of services offered in public relations are expanding, and the skills needed to meet those service also need to multiply
  • Greater Access to data- the Internet has dissolved the boundaries and access to information for everyone. Public or the target consumers have sensitive data on their fingertips that can make or mar the image of a company. Anyone can sniff the bad news out. Nothing can remain hidden, especially in this wired age, where news — especially bad news — gushes in an instant. It has only made the job of a PR firm all the more challenging.

Why should PR focus on Ethics?

The most prominent ethical problems for the PR industry as per the respondents:

  • 92% think fake news is one of the most potential ethical problems
  • 91% feel that PR firms that purposefully distort the truth are being unethical
  • 88% consider defending the malicious behaviour of key decision-makers, and management of the company they are representing as unethical.
  • 81% feel not maintaining corporate transparency at the firm itself as one of the major ethical dilemmas.

The most significant factor that impacts ethics in PR is the ever-evolving media landscape flooded with fake news, branded content, and paid influencers.

…good relationships between an organization and its stakeholders are built on trust; trust is gained by acting ethically and lost by acting unethically; therefore, ethical decision-making is good public relations. And, good public relations are dependent on ethical decision –making.

Paul Holmes- In his book “The Case for Ethics.”

Ethics are vital for any business. More so for the PR industry. PR is perceived as something less than respectable, and public relations professionals are known as manipulators of the public mind, who use clever tactics to convince the public that what’s wrong is actually right.

As Wendell Potter, former PR executive and author of much talked- about book- “Deadly Spin” writes

“With PR so intricately woven into every major industry and movement in today’s mass media reality, the stakes of spin have become incredibly high. And ethics do slip. PR often crosses the line into misleading, withholding, or simply lying. And when it does, society suffers — sometimes tragically so.”

Therefore, to say that there is such a thing called “Public Relations Ethics” is not just a subject taught at communications schools. It is a reality, and PR industry should embrace PR ethics the way other industries have their own code of conduct.

Critical Skills needed for ethical PR today

Considering the drivers of change in the PR industry, these are the essential skills for PR firms to succeed in future

  • Strategic Planning Organizations should sit down with their PR firms and work upon a strategy to formulate ethical boundaries. Most PR firms have the “cross the bridge when it comes” approach which is not a good strategy. In moments of crisis, it is difficult to take vital decisions which least are damaging both to the brand image as well as the public, and therefore, PR firms should sound out the alarms much before the crises hit. Strategic planning will be one of the most critical skills to develop in the future.
  • Leadership- The head of PR firms should realize that though it is easy to say that “you were not aware of the decisions taken by the accounts executive” or “you will look into it” – the damage to your reputation as a leader of the PR firm is already done. You must take full responsibility for all the decisions, big or small made on your behalf by the team. This includes the fundamental dilemmas related to integrity, honesty, and crisis management.
  • Written Communications- A PR firm has to sometimes deal with volatile situations where stakes are being revised every minute. Written communication between the company leadership and PR agency is extremely vital. If you can’t determine whether the course taken is ethical or not, at least you should be able to envision the fallout and work on scenarios. All the information should be duly shared with your clients and should be put on records.
  • Social Media & multimedia content development- Social media is here to stay, and a video literally speaks a thousand words. See our previous article: The Big Picture- Value of videos for brands- here. Therefore, today’s PR managers have to be well-versed in how to churn out engaging social media content that projects the values, brand, and image of the organization in the correct manner.

The role of today’s PR manager is continuously evolving, and today they are as much a part of management as any other function. Despite a lot of negative reputation of public relations, there is still potential for encouraging ethical communication.

Public relations professionals have long been labeled as “spin doctors,” and as a result, they are always a subject matter of critical scrutiny by journalists and the public. The only way to break this image is by adhering to the highest ethical standards to demonstrate their credibility as honest and trustworthy professionals.  As Madan Bahal, co-founder and MD of Adfactors PR, rightly puts it

“The evolved professional should not be limited by the idea of communications – which by definition itself is limiting. One school of thought says that public relations is 90% behaviour and 10% communications. Our jobs will involve advising client corporations on the right conduct in society so that they are not misaligned with stakeholder expectations. This, in my opinion, will drive the strategic relevance of PR professionals”

 

K2 Communications Pvt Ltd. has been in the business of helping clients successfully embrace technology changes and the ever-changing media landscape by employing innovative tactics ethically and with integrity for the last 15 years.

We have the strategies and tools to help clients claim their positions as industry leaders. If you’re in healthcare, education, technology or any other industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact K2 Communications today!

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.