The Current State of PR

The rapid transformations in the marketing landscape over the last decade highlights the fact that it is an industry that never stays still and is forever changing. Like marketing, public relations is also encountering its own set of challenges. We’ve seen a number of publishing houses in the Middle East like ITP move their efforts online and in turn this has led to a number of magazines and newspapers closing down, we’ve also seen broadcast channels either closing down or moving their attention to online consumption.

Social Media Influencer Huda Kattan

Social Media Influencer Huda Kattan, PR agency BPG Cohn & Wolfe reported 71 per cent of UAE residents aged 18-40 are happy to take advice online before purchasing.

Traditional media publications are facing competition not from each other but from online influencers, bloggers, micro media content and online publications and whilst it’s important not to ignore traditional media, it’s essential to be one step ahead of the game and plan accordingly around the current trends. This may be in the form of securing online coverage over print coverage or buying sponsored content on a publishers website and its social channels. The only way to continue to reach the target audience is if we understand where they are connecting and share content that will reach them.

We’ve seen media houses come into play over the last 18 months with a purely online focus, and in this space of time have over-taken and accelerated their social media followings and website visits numbers faster than media publications that have been around in the Middle East for years – only further emphasizing the shift.

If we go back 15 years ago, there were no Digital PR or Traditional PR agencies, it was merely PR agencies, at this stage, the digital world wasn’t far away. During this time agencies have embraced the opportunity and either evolved as a ‘digital agency’ or ‘integrated agency’ – it’s the integrated agencies that have the pre-digital knowledge and skills which are still very important to-date as well as the new, digital knowledge, which is imperative in today’s world. Whilst many companies have a full-rounded skill set in their marketing and PR departments, it’s important that they are integrated in their approach, step out of the silos and start working as one which will only be beneficial to the end objective.

If we start to look at PR from new angle, new opportunities will appear. In the past, brands communicated by talking about themselves, it was all about being introspective, focused on telling our stories to audiences regardless of their interest. Digital PR has the opportunity to generate quality content that, for example, influencers want to share. It’s content that talks subtly about the brand, but does not override the senses with unashamed promotion. Influencers have an audience and they don’t want to lose followers by promoting content that their audience will not find valuable.

If PR is positioned in a place where our audience’s attention is and it brings positive brand equity then it will always remain relevant and part of the broad marketing strategy.