February 18, 2016 / by Jeff Barrett

You can’t control the message anymore. If you’re still trying, stop.

In PR we can position, and we can steer, but eventually the message is controlled by the general public. There are no longer a few channels distributing information. Social media has given everyone a megaphone. And every review and opinion out there creates the message as a whole.

This is NOT a bad thing. But it does require a different approach. Transparency is an overused buzz word but an underutilized strategy. It’s vital. When a brand can’t dictate the message anymore, it has to connect with its consumers.

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Conventional channels are still great for shaping a message. Getting your client coverage in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal still has value. Getting on “The Today Show” still has value.


But the equation is different now. A Fast Company article, inclusion in Cosmpolitan’s Snapchat Story or organic content from the right influencer on Instagram all can create the same value.

The path to getting great coverage for your client is no longer a straight line. There are thousands of different combinations that work. As Wu Tang Financial said, “Diversify your bonds.”

Don’t get overwhelmed. This a good thing. Correction, this is a great thing. It means that PR is becoming even more valuable for brands. Conventional advertising is struggling. Banner ads don’t work anymore. People are cord-cutting and opting for subscription-based TV rather than the ad-supported model.

This means that brands will have to connect to consumers in different places. They’ll have to connect with the right content creators on social media. They’ll have to control their brand less and let influencers make their appeals for them. That’s tough for some brands to do but absolutely necessary going forward. Plus people have and always will be more inclined to buy from a friend.


And who can connect those dots for brands? You.

PR is the business of connecting dots for clients, putting them in the right place at the right time in front of the right audience.

It’s our job to stay ahead, to know where brands can make the most impact. It’s our job to find the Snapchat storyteller as their popularity is skyrocketing. It’s our job to bring our clients in to livestreaming.

This is the time for PR to make its case, to take the advertising budget because it is better spent with us.

The current consumer climate demands that a brand diversify, create conversation on multiple channels from multiple sources. If you want people talking about your brand, you actually have to find people to talk about your brand.

A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence. Trading social capital has value. Brands are visible and content creators are always looking to be more visible. That’s their business model.

You can’t control the message anymore. And that’s a good thing.

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Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3

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About Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is 2015’s Best Business Blogger (Shorty Awards), one of the 50 most influential people on social media (Forbes), the #1 Ad Executive on Twitter (Business Insider) and dances like Drake. Find him on Twitter @BarrettAll.