The changing facets of our industry
The communication industry is undergoing profound change, and with the recent closure of several magazines and TV channels in the UAE, including 7 Days, Aquarius magazine and City 7 TV, it makes sense to dedicate a post to this change.
The first time I heard about it was almost four years ago. At the time, I worked for a PR agency whose CEO told our clients that traditional PR would be dead in five years. He also convinced them that converting to digital was the next big thing and that in order to distinguish their brands from the competition they would have to strengthen their social media presence. To be honest, I felt offended; it was as if he was asking us to leave the room and hand the account to the social media team. I mean how could companies abandon the traditional channels that have served their communication requirements so well for so long? What would PR even look like without press releases?
Well, it turns out he was right in thinking that digital was the next big step. However, traditional PR was not dying; it was just becoming part of a much broader and more exciting concept of PR that incorporates multiple channels and new-age strategies.
It is no longer about using either traditional or digital PR tactics; it is essential to use both and influencer communication is the latest strategy in our growing tool kit. This is the era of ‘New Age PR – the way to do it better.
How I see ‘better’
I handle clients from various industries and they all have been affected by the emerging influencer trend. Whether micro or macro, influencers are now under the spotlight and have sometimes been harshly judged by journalists and PR professionals. While it’s true that some influencers have sacrificed their credibility by working with whatever brands come their way, the truly valuable influencers are authentic, have a distinct sense of self, and carefully select which brands to champion. If they believe in your brand, then they can be your very best ambassadors.
Finding the right balance between a brand’s key messages and the media’s story line was once our main job, but now we are also experts in arranging ideal marriages between influencers and brands. The key is to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship, with the influencer complementing the client’s image, upholding their values, and striving to help them reach their target audience. At the same time, the best relationships also see brands giving influencers the support and creative freedom to bring their own voice to the brand, which is invaluable for creating genuine, engaging content.
We have seen outstanding results from the influencer collaborations we have set up for our clients at Cicero & Bernay. One of the accounts I manage is from the automotive industry, and almost a year ago we were asked to develop a ‘fresh blood list’ when pitching test-drives for car reviews. Our client wanted to add to the coverage generated by automotive editors, so we brought lifestyle editors and influencers into the mix and were able to give our client real life testimonials from the point of view of potential customers.
Thomas Edison said: “There’s a way to do it better – find it.” I am lucky to be a team member at C&B, where this value is embraced every day. We are the region’s first public relations consultancy to offer a full suite of strategic influencer communication services, with the launch of our innovative ‘See & Be’ programme. With this programme, we follow a detailed methodology and best practices for creating impactful influencer communication campaigns that deliver measureable results. By identifying the ideal match between influencers and brands, meticulously tracking campaigns and bringing our in-depth insider knowledge of the influencer world to every strategy, we harness the proven potential of influencer communication to offer our clients significant added value.
While working closely with journalists from the automotive industry, I noticed that they are among the first to have realised the importance of embracing this change. They have understood that resisting will only delay their career growth and might even put an end to it. This is why a number of these editors have become influencers specialised in the automotive industry and worked hard to embellish their profiles and social media skills. I believe that soon we will see more and more editors becoming ‘better’ to find their way in the ‘New-Age PR Era’.
Reem Masswadeh is Senior Account Manager at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations. An independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai and offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the GCC. | www.cbpr.me