With the boom of social media in the early 2000s, information sharing has changed dramatically. The shift in power relations has moved public relations from a press agentry to a 2-way symmetrical model. I mean, no self-respecting organisation today can survive pushing their agenda onto a vicious media landscape containing an educated, opinionated and vocal online audience!
In an online world of saturated online clutter and the exigencies of retaining brand conversation, have we reached the utopian goal of crafting more meaningful online content that appeals to the consumer?
It ostensibly seems so. PR professionals are down on their knees for the concerns of clients and key stakeholders, sprinkling stories with keywords recommended by Adword agencies and writing with online consumption design in mind. One such successful series of campaigns is Dove’s real beauty sketches which weave brand messages into captivating stories while addressing women’s issues. Perhaps most aptly put by Lipschultz (2015) in “Social Media Communication”, the campaign surely “link[ed] the strategic goals of their clients with relatable organic content” (p.77).
However, this upbeat narrative starkly contrasts with Mumbrella’s recent article on the state of PR in Singapore. A call to “respect the audience” was made by Hill + Knowlton Strategies Managing Director Michelle Tham, who argues for greater discretion in assessing the need and value of content marketing.
In her speech, she notes that “if a brand publishes content, it must be highly responsive to the audience. Often there isn’t a senior enough person internally who can make the call on whether the audience is engaged or fatigued”.
While it is hard to draw a conclusion on digital consumerism at this point, there is no denying that the rise of social media has put the clock on PR to rethink best practices for personalised content and hyper-targeted reach and engagement. Ultimately, the onus is on them to demonstrate that brands are still worth our screen time.