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Corporate Communications and PR

The evolving role of social and traditional media in PR

A deep dive into how the dynamics between PR and traditional media have evolved since the advent of social media.

In the ever-evolving landscape of public relations (PR), the symbiotic relationship between mainstream media and social media has become increasingly integral in shaping communication strategies for brands and organisations. A recent conversation among industry leaders at Communicon 2024, powered by Kaizzen and hosted by afaqs!, shed light on the dynamic shifts and strategic adaptations occurring within the PR realm when it comes to different media.

The panel included Shashikant Someshwar- managing director-The Weber Shandwick Collective, Rajiv Banerjee- group head - corporate communications at Piramal Enterprises, Aniruddha Bhagwat- CEO & co-founder at Ideosphere, Nitin Mantri- group CEO at Avian WE and was moderated by Sreekant Khandekar, co-founder & chief executive officer, afaqs!

Banerjee of Piramal Enterprises emphasises the democratising effect of social media on communication processes. He notes that social media often takes precedence in disseminating messages to target audiences versus traditional media reflecting the growing emphasis on digital platforms for brand communication.

Mantri of Avian WE underscores the enduring importance of earned media in PR endeavours. While acknowledging the expanding role of social media, Mantri emphasises the continued relevance of traditional media relationships and storytelling techniques in garnering publicity for clients.

“The heart of any PR firm is earned media and that has not changed. Creating your own content can give you a lot of earned media. Our relationship with traditional media hasn’t changed. We still talk to journalists, pitch stories, talk to clients.”

Bhagwat of Ideosphere highlights the convergence of credibility between mainstream and social media platforms. Bhagwat emphasises on the increasing focus on message coherence and intentionality, with strategic messaging driving media selection rather than vice versa.

“What has happened in PR is that there is more focus on the message you are going to give across rather than what media you are choosing. The message defines what media we are going to. For example, we are getting more intentional in terms of the message we are putting across and refraining from adjectives in our content. The expansion of the media is making us more responsible, it's holding us more accountable and it's a good thing,” he says.

Someshwar of The Weber Shandwick Collective discusses the emergence of genre-specific media and its role in targeted messaging. He stresses the necessity of an 'earned media first' approach in PR.

He further states that relying merely on social media may not be the right approach for brands and PR agencies. 

“According to a report by Oxfam, 70% of India still has issues with connectivity. In that realm, if you only operate for social media, you will go out of business very soon. Social media has allowed PR agencies to get more creative, using different messaging. For example, the Bill Gates-Chaiwala video is a great example of using social media to get your message across which was ‘innovation finding innovation in India’. He was able to give out the message in a two-minute interview rather than a video interview. I think agencies have started adapting and being more creative,” he adds.

The role of Press Conference

The conversation further delves into the evolving nature of press conferences in today's PR landscape. According to leaders, while press conferences are still important, they serve a more nuanced role.

Bhagwat of Avian says that the purpose of the press conference today is to announce something for smart and capable people (journalists) to ask questions about, thus making that message even more credible.

“The business of public relations or Communications has become far more complex than it was 20 years ago. There are multiple mediums, there's traditional media, there's social media, forums you can reach out to, etc,” concludes Mantri of Avian.

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