Here we go again! The next installment of my weekly brain dump. Last week, I explored brand reputation management, the blurred line between PR and Advertising, grassroots communications, the one question every brand should ask a prospective PR agency and how to work smarter with the journalists still out there.
This week, I thought it might be interesting to focus on some of the forces surrounding and impacting PR today.
- Canadians still want the information shared by journalists, they just don’t want to pay for a monthly subscription. The challenges facing media in Canada are well documented and daunting. And those working in journalism are right to feel like their future is under attack by market forces beyond their control. Unfortunately, having attended a panel discussion or two of stakeholders discussing the challenges faced by media outlets in Canada, particularly newspapers, it seems as though the accepted reason for these challenges is that Millennials don’t want to pay for anything. This, quite frankly, is ridiculous and I would encourage media owners to apply some creativity and to reform their business model to align with customer preferences. Instead of resignation, why not steal a page from the music industry which faced an even more dire future before figuring out that, while $20 for an album wasn’t going to play, enabling micro purchases of $0.99 for a single song was the price millions were willing to pay? Having gone digital and no longer face with paying the high cost of printing , why not allow Canadians to purchase an article on their iPhone for a nickel? I doubt many would blink an eye before authorizing a purchase for the specific content that they want.
- Social influencers and bloggers should refocus on the long-term. It’s pretty incredible that in under 10 years, bloggers and other social creatives (YouTubers, Instagrammers etc.) have so clearly established their value that nearly every brand is now willing to pay for access. They’ve done this by creating great content, building an audience and understanding their value. Most steadfastly refuse to share any branded post without payment, lest marketers come to believe that something so good can be had for free. While I understand and admire this determination and the results the influencer industry has achieved (even the fact that there is an ‘influencer industry’), the proliferation of pay-for-play content makes me wonder about the long-term viability of ‘influencer’ as a career choice. Now, to be clear, I believe they offer incredible value to brands and consumers alike. I just worry that consumers may tune out if the channels they trust start seeming as though they’ve sold out. To keep this from happening, it’s vital for social influencers to take steps to define the limits of how/when they work with brands and scenarios wherein they’ll advocate for brands for free, simply because they believe in them.
- Agencies paying influencers should demand more of them. Not more content creation or access to their channels, no. If, however, influencers are going to demand payment for brand related content (and they are right to do so; their channels have immense value), they should be ready to demonstrate why we should invest in them instead of a competitor. Within reason, shouldn’t we know before paying an influencer what their audience demographics and engagement rates look like? Why shouldn’t they give us an analytics report? And after a campaign is done, what’s wrong with requiring a report that shows how their content converted to specific business goals? Our clients wouldn’t accept anything less from us, so as their client we shouldn’t accept anything less from social influencers.
That’s it for this week, what do you think? One thing I’m sure of, the future of PR is bright, but we can’t do it alone. We need a strong media and vital influencer channels to be successful. It may often seem as though we are on opposite sides, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that we’re all in this together.
As always, I encourage you to share your PR related thoughts in the comments below and on social media (be sure to tag me: @AdamSandersTO). After all, one of the primary reasons that I started PR for Today is to spark a conversation about the future of PR and how we get to where we’re going faster and all together!
Until next week – cheers!