PR's future is strong data, content, and talent

NEW YORK: The keys to communications in the 21st Century and beyond are bringing on strong talent, using research, and creating compelling content, said PR executives at the PRWeek Power to the People Conference on Wednesday.

NEW YORK: The keys to communications in the 21st Century and beyond are bringing on strong talent, using research, and creating compelling content, said PR executives at the PRWeek Power to the People Conference on Wednesday.

Dustee Tucker Jenkins, VP of communications at Target, said the motto at her retail company is “content is queen.”

Target offers consumers a “bite” with content on Twitter, a “snack” on Facebook, and a “meal” on its online magazine "A Bullseye View," she added. The company also makes sure to interact with fans by using select videos, photos, and stories that they post on social channels.  

“Communications today is a two-way dialogue,” she explained.

Jenkins added that Target is doing research so that it knows its audiences, which is something she said the Republican Party missed during this year's presidential election.

Global Chairman and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies Jack Martin said one of the biggest lessons that corporate communicators can take away from the election is the strength of data. He said that the data revealed “everything you need to know” about the election, and it could have helped communicators tell more stories or change strategies.

The election also taught PR professionals how immediate the news cycle is and the urgency of responding to issues quickly, said Lisa Caputo, EVP of marketing and communications at Travelers.

Caputo said digital and social media are pushing financial companies, such as Travelers, to evolve and engage  consumers in ways they never have before.

She added that talent, specifically “player-coaches,” or seasoned executives who also execute plans, are important to a company's communications team because they understand the digital space and they can carry out campaigns in a strategic and credible way.

Martin said that hiring the right staffers who understand business is a major push for the agency, and they can come from any background, such as journalism, law, or PR.

For the future of communications, Martin said the “fifth seat” will be bigger at companies. The four seats are usually occupied by law firms, bank groups, management consultants, and accountants, he explained.

“The fifth seat in the room means somebody who is going to offer wisdom about the public,” said Martin. “It means that we're giving advice to companies about how they can structure their organizational chart to make sure that somebody is elevated to the ‘all things public' seat, and it's coordinated and it has discipline to it.”

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