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How brand collaboration and paid content is redefining the traditional ideas of PR

With the dynamic and ever-evolving media landscape that is practically offering around-the-clock information feed and engagement opportunities, there has been a drastic shift in the way content is created, packaged, presented and consumed, across the globe. Additionally, while news and entertainment were the two main forms of content consumed traditionally, today have exploded informative, socially relevant, and engaging conversations that go beyond the boundaries of geographies and time zones!

As a result, Public Relations or PR has also evolved, helping brands and businesses to leverage this new age media landscape while safely navigating through its complexity and unpredictability. Further, thanks to the technological revolution that introduced search engines, IoT, social media, hybrid OTT platforms, and integrated digital presence, the age-old role of PR has transformed to become an integrated and well-aligned part of marketing. From being an occasion-specific, timely and message-driven activity, PR today has transformed to be a complex, synchronised, and perpetual exercise of consumer engagement, spanning geographies, time zones, and communication platforms. The changing role has also changed the key objective of PR, from being a‘messenger’ that informed to a proactive conversation starter that educates and engages, to impact behaviour modification. 

Broadly, the contemporary scope of PR today is an integrated approach to leveraging the best combination

  • Earned media: The scope of traditional PR where relevant content is organically placed
  • Paid media: Advertorials and sponsored content
  • Shared media: Potentially viral content that gets picked up and shared on digital/ social media platforms through influencers or celebrities
  • Owned media: Content generated by a brand on their own mouthpieces, namely company/ Brand pages on social media, internal magazine or other employee engagement initiatives

While the above is relatively the new scope of PR, companies, and brands are yet to have a clear and distinctive understanding of how this can be best leveraged. Effective PR campaigns which take a holistic approach to brand visibility and engagement, can offer some of the most wide-reaching benefits from brand. Highlighting some key benefits of how these new-age PR strategies can be beneficial to brands:

1.     Brand Engagement

Capturing attention and sustaining interest for the brand today requires a herculean effort, especially in this era of information overload across media. Through strategic mapping of consumer base and a well-aligned messaging, PR can help brands leverage paid partnerships with key influencers to create innovative engagement campaigns that not only get the message through, but are also relevant and impactful. These can span across mediums, from social media and blogger collaborations to on-ground activations at modern trade establishments or leisure/social events, where the brand can seamlessly engage with its stakeholders

2.     Corporate Image 

The role of PR in building an effective corporate image is highly underutilized. Mostly it is enjoyed as a by-product of an effective consumer engagement campaign or is limited largely to proactive investor relations efforts. However, modern PR professionals are exploring newer avenues to engage with stakeholders – both B2B and B2C, to create a holistic corporate image for brands. From positive HR policies, emphasis on diversity and work-life balance for employees to highlighting the face to the brand in the form of a ‘spokesperson’, modern PR techniques are exploring innovative engagement and collaboration opportunities for brands where CEO’sand MD’s can be seen and heard, creating a strongcorporate image.

3.     Thought Leadership 

While a strong corporate image is valuable and one of the most basic requirement for holistic brand visibility, creating a thought leadership position for modern corporate leaders is essential for long-term corporate visibility. With earned media opportunities around industry panel discussions, collaboration with academia for industry research and white papers, and participation in sector/ industry related conversations across media platforms, PR is helping brands become instrumental in shaping the evolution of their industry, by initiating conversations around international trends and local challenges.

3.     Brand Values

In the era of the well-informed and socially conscious consumers, brands are required to have much more than just a great product/ service and a positive corporate policy. Consumers today are looking to endorse brands that reflect positive‘values’ like ethical business practices, socially inclusive philosophy and environmentally responsible business operations. PR is assisting businesses in identifying and collaborating with relevant associations and/or curate events with media partnerships, to highlight these positive ‘brand values’ among target consumers. Further, PR is also leveraging the dynamic media landscape to cross-connect and offer sponsored presence to brands at events like Ted Talks or Innovation Labs at University levels etc., focusing on development of ethical and green practices.

While most view the above transformations in PR as its slow death, it is actually a dynamic evolution that is reflecting not just the evolution of the modern media landscape but also the changing shifts in the consumer mindset and the evolution of the society at large!

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