The crisis justifies any decisions made by management to optimize the business: the dismissal of part of the staff, cutting salaries, cutting budgets for PR and marketing. The main goal is to maintain the same level of income. However, obvious at first glance solutions are not always true. The market dictates new conditions for the game and not accepting them means losing the game before the start of the game. Reducing "non-production" costs and total savings lead to lower product quality and painfully hit the brand and image of the company. Quality is falling - customers are leaving. Market experts talk about PR trends and pose new challenges for entrepreneurs.
To lead your company through the reefs of the economic crisis with minimal loss of team and cargo is the main goal of any business owner. But the increasing pitching makes you get rid of the "ballast". And as a rule, the first solution is to reduce marketing and PR costs. “The crisis has come, which means spending on PR needs to be reduced! PR is an excessive luxury in such conditions, ”argues the majority of mid-sized entrepreneurs. However, practice shows that without the benefits that PR gives to a business, in a crisis it is easy to lose the last chance to keep your company afloat, not to mention to get the maximum profit!
The power of a word
Do not underestimate the power of PR. According to experts, one should not focus on budget cuts (although optimizing costs in a crisis, of course, will benefit the company), but increasing the effectiveness of their PR campaigns. The power of PR in such a crisis is not just proven and has once again been confirmed by experience, but has increased markedly.
“PR forms a sense of trust among clients, a desire to be involved in the activities of the company, perception of its image as emotionally close and authoritative. PR brings information through communication channels that are trusted by customers. A PR message doesn’t try to force the client to buy or do something and therefore is perceived without internal resistance, and after that the advertisement of the company's products is perceived by the client more loyally, ”says Dmitry Singeyev, analyst, business consultant.
“If you are a medium-sized company, now is the best time to engage in PR and“ conquer ”your place in the information space. In any case, develop, come up with new approaches in working with your target audiences. After all, a crisis is not only a “danger” (to lose everything), but also a “favorable opportunity” (to reach a new level), ”says Tatyana Dubrovina, a specialist in PR, leading seminars on business and interpersonal communications.
In a new way directly to the client
In the last 5 years, the PR industry, despite the problems in the global economy, has been developing by leaps and bounds. You can even talk about increasing the importance of this means of promoting a product with increasing instability. This is largely due to the rapid development of the Internet and social media. “The main trends in the field of communications balance between emotions (periods of crisis, loss of confidence, desire for more personalized communications, desire for more transparency) and pragmatism (focused strategic plans with tangible, evidence-backed results),” emphasizes Jeremy Galbraith, CEO Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA),
There are clear trends in the development of communications between companies and consumers of goods or services that will shape the work of PR managers in the next couple of years.
1. Universal Soldier. Today, the functionality of a competent PR specialist is not limited to writing releases and sending this creation to journalists. Old PR tools lose their former effectiveness, while others, on the contrary, begin to be more effective.
“Both the reaper and the Swiss ...” are about PR managers of the 21st century: communications are only one hundredth of their work. “Over the past couple of years, we have noticed a significant demand for universal wagglers who were ready to work in several areas of activity at once,” comments Angela Travis, manager of the American HR agency Ashdown Group, commenting on this trend. “Yes, they have to pay more than other employees by at least 45-50%, but they are able to carry out the work of 3-4 highly specialized managers ...” Today, the PR department is an event and a creative agency “in one bottle”. Out-of-the-box thinking and openness to the new are not only welcome, but also become mandatory.
2. Digital communication. This, of course, is about social media and online platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, popular copyright blogs ... It is these sites that make millions of people constantly check their phones, tablets, and now smart watches in search of fresh information, inspiration, and emotional charge. For PR pros, this means the birth of new platforms for promoting a product or service, a simple and quick way to reach a client. Today it is very difficult to imagine a successful PR campaign without using digital tools. Internet sites not only allow you not to lose contact with the client, but also help to monitor their reaction to a product or service online. “It is worth considering that the time of unconscious consumption in social networks has ended - today there are too many identical groups filled with similar content. The only way to be interesting for the audience is to create unusual or useful content and not strain users, because they come to social networks to relax from work and have a good time, ”advises Sergey Karpov, SP Media CEO.
“Social networks require full and continuous engagement. And this means that your task is not just to convey information to the client, but also to maximize the capabilities of networks. How exactly? To identify those who matter to the company, to understand what they say, how it affects others and how best to involve them in your work. The key to this is the balance between emotions (dialogue) and pragmatism (measuring the size of influence), ”emphasizes Jeremy Galbraith.
3. 24 / 7. Work schedule from 9.00 to 18.00 and one hour lunch break - canceled forever! On the Internet, life does not stop for a second, which means that the work of your PR department should be structured in such a way as not to lose touch with the client. Continuous communication over time will help not only promote the product, but also protect the brand’s reputation: you must promptly respond to any negative statement addressed to you. “You should remember one important thing,” warns Ashley Rubens, an SSM specialist at CyberCoders, “every negative response that you have not noticed or considered bullshit will cost you thousands and thousands of dollars of damage to your company. Such responses, as a rule, produce an avalanche effect. They like to "postpone" the negative and like to "share" it, so your little problem grows into a real PROBLEM, of which several tens or even hundreds of thousands of people know. How to avoid this? It is important to respond promptly and even if you do not have a ready-made answer to a client’s question / complaint, an answer like “Sorry, I can’t solve your question now, but I requested the head office and we will solve this problem in the next couple of hours. We apologize to you ”- instantly brings down the severity of the situation. And the phrase “Accept as a compensation for the inconvenience a small gift” - turns the situation at 180 degrees and turns a dissatisfied customer into your loyal customer! ” In a similar rhythm of work, bloggers and freelancers will be great helpers. Over the six years of the new millennium, the number of freelance writers has increased by more than 300%. Today freelancers produce over 70 percent of online content.
4. Clients are brand advocates. “Your brand is not what you tell the audience about it. This is what they themselves say about him. The society independently forms an opinion about brands and companies and does it as publicly as possible, ”says Paul Holmes, creator of Holmes Report, the most respected annual PR market research in the world. - We know that followers of Twitter and Facebook like to share information on their page - here they describe both positive and negative experiences with this or that product. In this way, they disseminate product or brand information without your help. But this does not mean that, having received positive feedback, your pr-hotel is in a hurry to report on the work done, communication has been established if your team has not forgotten to thank the client for the feedback, and if he is dissatisfied, ask what can be fixed next time he liked the product. “Love your fans,” advises Mac Collier, founder of #BlogChat. Think about how to turn your customers into true fans. Provide them with all the necessary tools to promote your brand and get a lot of absolutely free PR.
5. Social wiretapping. This is another new phrase that appeared in the wake of the growing popularity of online media. It perfectly illustrates the interaction of companies and their customers. Today it is necessary not only to interact with the client, but also constantly monitor the community’s reaction to your publications: what causes the greatest interest, what, on the contrary, seems uninteresting. The client does not want to hear about the “uniqueness of your product”, “the highest quality” and “the most important competitive advantages”, he wants to talk and be heard. Lie with your “ear to the ground” to hear exactly in which direction your client is “moving”. “Actually, it’s not as difficult as it seems at first glance,” says Anthony Rubens, PR manager of Creative Circle. - Now there are several software products that allow you to monitor customer moods in real time. Most importantly, do not skimp on analysts who are able to process the received materials and can understand the true mood of your customers ... ”This approach will help to improve interactions with potential users, and this, in turn, will form your positive image in the eyes of customers, and it will be easy for you to find and keep in touch with them.
6. Brand journalism. “Media companies are no longer an important link to information and audience. The very definition of “news” has changed, and this evolution has created an opportunity for PR managers and content managers to deliver timely content that allows the brand to earn extra points and become more visible and relevant, ”says Jeremy Galbraith. The main task of the PR man is to find such stories and tell them so that the audience not only wants to participate in them, but also share them. Brand journalism is a new way of expressing thoughts and ideas. And do not confuse it with content marketing, which “sins” submission to the system, which completely kills the uniqueness of the content. Mastering brand journalism means learning to tell meaningful, high-quality stories.
7. Live information. The dull press releases are over. Today, when creating an information leaflet or a message in social networks, it is necessary to actively attract multimedia opportunities. The first press release was created in the fall of 1906 of the year by Ivy Lee - a man who is considered the founder of the entire PR direction. Throughout most of its history, little has changed in the compilation of the press release. However, this was only before the start of the new millennium. “When I started my career in PR more than a decade ago, we wrote classic press releases for the press. Boring! Today, in order to attract the attention of journalists to a particular event, they are increasingly using the Internet - creating custom landing pages, posting provocative YouTube videos ... ”, says Lindsay Gropper, vice president of BLASTmedia. Over the next five years, according to British pr- manager Jeff Esposito, the types of press releases will be formed and strengthened in the 3 market: “in video format”, “social” (short and more capacious, designed for social networks) and “information” similar to today, but rich in statistics and additional information. They say one picture is worth a thousand words. And this is not far from the truth. Colorful attractive charts that explain everything about everything in an accessible way are a must for a modern press release. It includes a huge amount of very useful data and helps to more accurately convey the necessary information to the client. The modern generation for the most part consists of visuals, in addition, psychologists note that among young residents of megalopolises, the concentration of attention decreases from year to year. All this speaks in favor of the use of infographics in PR materials.
8. Efficiency and Transparency
One of the trends in PR is to calculate everything from the scope of a campaign to its effectiveness. At Burson-Marsteller, we developed an evidence base for communications with conducting research among the target audience and calculating the results. “Digital campaigns are usually easy to track, because many channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have their own analytic programs that allow you to see the coverage of campaigns in terms of views, retweets, likes, etc.,” commented John Barton, an employee of Burson-Marsteller, “But it takes us beyond the scope of simple calculations and leads to the understanding that it will change the rules of the game in the field of communications ...” In general, you should prepare for the fact that calculating everything will be difficult and the budget as always is not enough. However, it has always been so!
Russian market of PR *
Last year, Buman Media and HeadHunter conducted a study identifying the main trends in the PR profession.
So, 68% of respondents to the survey admitted that over the past few years they began to encounter social media in their work much more often than before. So, the responsibilities of 44% of respondents now include maintaining corporate pages, and 47% of respondents had to master the skills of advertising on social networks.
13% of the polled PR managers were forced to master web design skills, and 28% learned how to work with search engine optimization. 10% of PR professionals advertise on mobile devices. It is noteworthy that every third is now engaged in contextual advertising (33%), but programming among the important skills of communication specialists is in last place (6%).
The main communication channels remain online media (3,95 points from 5) and print media (3,82 points from 5), the third and fourth place with a slight difference are social networks and radio / TV. Blogs occupy an honorable fifth place in the ranking - their significance in Russia so far is not rated too high - only in the 2,64 point from 5.
More than half of the surveyed (56%) PR-specialists admitted that it has become more interesting to work in the last couple of years, and about 40% are confident that in the near future PR specialists themselves will become bloggers and journalists of their companies.
Few respondents (3%) support the opinion that this profession may completely disappear in the future. When asked if PR specialists want to continue working in the profession, 78% of respondents answered “yes”!
* according to the portal www.cossa.ru
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