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What Is PR 2.0? Cookie Cutter PR Beware!

PR is different. I take that back. The world is different. How we make decisions, buy things, talk with friends is evolving…and evolving fast.

I can’t think of the last time I tried a new restaurant without Yelping and sleuthing through user reviews. No ad or press release can override the feedback of real customers and people in my network.

Thanks to technology, consumers have taken some of the power back from businesses. Only 10 percent of U.S adults who go online trust brand ads, but 46 percent trust online customer reviews. In the new age of business, it’s only natural a new type of PR pro is needed.

So what does public relations of the future look like?

During the “Convergence Ahead: Integrating Communications and Marketing to Drive Innovation” panel discussion at ColorComm’s C2 Conference, the thought leaders at the global public relations firm Weber Shandwick painted the picture of PR 2.0.

Ditch your cookie cutters

Cookie Cutters - No More - PR 2.0

Having a team of like-minded professionals with traditional approaches to communications problems isn’t the best solution. You need an edge in this new PR environment. Here’s some advice from the conference.

“Businesses are changing at light speed. If [everyone’s background is the same], your solutions will always be the same,” says Allyson Hugley EVP of Measurement Analytics and Insights at Weber Shandwick.

“Since people are drawn to different stories, that changes who you want to tell the story,” explains Angelica Colantuoni, SVP at Weber Shandwick. “It can’t just be told by the [typical] PR person.

This means PR teams need diverse backgrounds and thoughts. The days where you can reach a majority of your audience on the nightly news or in The New York Times are over. Sure there are tweets and LinkedIn, but some people like to hang on Reddit, Tumblr or discussion boards for dog lovers.

To decrease the likelihood of a PR blunder, have someone on your team who is an expert or passionate explain the culture of the community and how to navigate it.

Redefine the PR skillset

PR Measurement - Bottom Line

Writing well and having media contacts will always be valuable in PR, but to succeed in the future, you’ll need to add a little extra something to your repertoire. I caught up with Weber Shandwick VP Veronica Marshall after the conference and she helped explain.

“Today people engage with brands and issues they care about in entirely new ways and this has a lot to do with the pervasiveness of social media, our desire to tell our stories directly without a filter, and our need to co-create and co-ideate with brands,” she says.

“Navigating this ongoing change has meant communicators have had to think beyond PR to bring people together, to tell stories, deliver impactful ideas and execute campaigns that fuel participation.”

Veronica shares how Weber Shandwick has already adapted for the future. “We’re hiring video game and app developers, digital influencers, data analysts, music composers, creative directors, scientists, among others, to meet changing clients’ needs.”

Not a music composer? Relax, all’s not lost.

Embrace what makes you unique

Unique - PR 2.0

PR pros who aren’t a developer or a mathematician won’t be obsolete in the future, it’s crucial that you tap into what makes you, you.

“Diversity plays a significant role in PR but not just in the way we have traditionally thought about diversity,” Veronica explains. “Today, diversity not only means race, gender and age but your geography – where you grew up and went to school, for example; your experiences, both life and professional; your culture and value system. Because of our diverse experiences we are all multicultural marketers in a broad sense.”

Are you a huge Kim Kardashian fan? Do you know everything about sports cars or do you love trying new cuisine? Your passion makes you unique and can make you a more valuable PR pro.

How?

“Allowing people to pursue their passion is helpful. There are niches out there, and only people who are within the community and are passionate can reach them,” explains Jenna Young, Executive Creative Director at Weber Shandwick

What do you think the future of PR looks like?

Want to take a look at the present of PR? Get this free white paper to see the State of Public Relations in 2014!

Image: Luke Loughead, fdecomite, Niuton may, Rupert Ganzer (Creative Commons)

About Adrienne Sheares

Adrienne Sheares is an enthusiast for all things social media. On the rare times she’s not on social media, she loves watching any cooking show and frequently pretends she’s a “Top Chef” contestant in her kitchen. You can find her on Twitter at @SocialMediaDC.

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