August 23, 2018
Most PR consultants working in agencies will be able to tell you that they have trouble explaining to their families and friends from outside of the industry what their jobs entail exactly.
“Mom, I am going to facilitate a media interview, no, not go for a job interview…,” you may hear them say.
As digitalization continues to turn our lives upside down, the role of a PR consultant is also transforming. Increasingly, PR consultants these days need to have some skills in social media management and listening, graphic design and visual content development, and so on. Add to that, the pressures of working with clients needing to track campaign results to exact data points, and ‘data analytics’ may need to be a standard item in every PR consultants’ job description soon.
Just recently, a client told me over lunch: “We need to get more than our brand out there. We need to generate demand.”
I’ve heard this before. It’s just that I hear it more often these days. Clients are looking to PR agencies to help them drive interest and create desire. In other words, PR consultants need to play a role that has direct impact on their clients’ businesses.
Like it or not, PR is now more than handling media interviews and getting earned media coverage. PR consultants are now engaging with influencers, managing social media communities, and yes, helping clients identify prospects and even turning them into customers.
The problem solver
Basically, PR consultants need to be problem solvers. Very often, I go into a client brief and I hear them sharing their challenges and issues. These may be business challenges like lack of brand awareness or weak corporate reputation. At times, they may be more organizational or operational, such as business units ‘going rogue’ with their external messaging and mis-representing the business.
As consultants, we offer counsel and make recommendations based on experience. We come up with solutions to help clients solve their problems. The tactics and tools that we recommend is less important. What matters most is that they get the job done, are ethical, legal and fall within allocated budget.
In a nutshell, PR consultants are problem solvers.
Still, at the core of the PR business is communication. In B2B communication where content is king and thought leadership positioning is crucial, PR consultants are communicators, or more accurately, storytellers. This is because PR consultants build compelling and powerful narratives. Not only do we get messages across, we tell stories that resonate with the audience.
Moreover, PR storytellers choose the appropriate platforms to best tell their stories. In today’s digital age, more often than not, we are using e-mails, social media, websites and web apps to present our stories. We also use creative content with the constant aim to be engaging and refreshing. The current trend, for instance, is to create interactive content or present material using augmented or virtual reality technology.
The fact is that digital platforms have opened up a whole new arena for us PR storytellers. We can now amplify our stories and reach out to thousands and even millions just by pushing out content from our computers or through our smart devices.
Never before have storytellers held such power, and consequently, such responsibilities.
So, what does it mean to be a PR consultant?
The value PR consultants bring to the table is that we are able to engage with our clients’ target audiences and drive interest, change perspectives or influence decisions and opinions.
As the industry landscape evolves, clients may now see us as an advertising agency, a digital marketing agency, a social media marketing agency, or an all-in-one shop… and it almost doesn’t matter anymore. As problem solvers and story tellers, what matters most is that we can reach into our bag of tools to deliver the solution that meet business objectives.