The future of public relations

Branding is essential for strengthening and allowing a brand to move forward. It’s a discipline that, together with other communication tools such as public relations, works to provide credibility, convey identity and reach the final user’s insight. The term PR (public relations) is a mistranslation from English; in Spain it should be understood as relationships with the public. This brings together the entire spectrum of public opinion, the social element that makes a brand more human, accessible, and ultimately, more honest and friendlier.

I love my profession and since I started at Panasonic Iberia and Samsung Electronics Iberia as the head of press and public relations (1999-2006), I still get a rush of adrenaline every time a client hits the headlines.

Nowadays public relations is a unique and undisputed tool for shedding light on brands. It is possibly one of the most prospective dynamics amongst corporate communication professionals. It is what feeds reputation, making the change from a positive image to a positive account balance. “Do it well and make it known”, a quote from Napoleon (1769-1821) is the perfect summary of the essence of Public Relations, which is so neglected in our country yet so esteemed in the English-speaking world.

Today more than ever, thanks to phenomena such as globalisation and the network society defined by Manuel Castells in 1997, companies are aiming to project a narrative which will make the intangible tangible via mass communication. Brands are still fighting to keep a positive balance in their imaginary reputation bank account: notoriety, value perception and influential capacity…

Public relations professionals work so that a trusted third party, a journalist, is able to publish a story about a company, an executive, a product or an organisation, to make the public opinion’s subliminal message understood. Social value. This is all to be more authentic and believable without forgetting about a fantastic quote that I once heard a journalist say: “either give me data or take me off the list”.

Communications consultants are a rare breed. Journalists at the other side of the imaginary trench that separates companies from society. Journalists in teams at companies to write press releases, or at least try to, in whom we place the highest journalistic criteria for publication. Journalists that are often misunderstood by the client and by the actual person drafting the publications….

For every published piece, I am always instinctively looking for the data on editions, spreading and readership and I add it to the equation to make the equivalent advertising value more real. Public relations multiply this value by 2.5 because we are all aware that, when viewing a page of advertising, the reader is subconsciously defending themselves from a type of creativity that is aiming to persuade, convince and sell more.

We don’t “defend” ourselves against a news item, saving the editorial line and the nuances that each newspaper places within each piece of information and within which, the means is sometimes the message.

Regardless, the explosion of the internet and social media has democratised interaction and made opinion more universal. Social media is today an amazing platform where, with its AI algorithms and its “Matrix guards” (and Google’s), are constantly spying on us. Social networks condition our outlook on the world by imposing messages that provide feedback on what we have previously looked for using the search engine.

If we’re honest, the role of the big newspapers is showing a downward trend and each day, less and less printed copies are sold than the day before… Journalism isn’t living through a crisis despite the fake news; what is in a crisis is the business model belonging to companies that produce journalistic material. Less advertisers, a fragmented readership, economic crisis (which is also omnipresent for those who wish to see it), a lack of credibility…

In light of this panorama, today I tell my clients that being in the press is nothing short of a miracle and that leads me to think that it is true that within public relations and as a communications consultant, I still have many years left in my profession…

About the author: Josep Salvat i Sangrà
November 5th, 2019 | Branding

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