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The marketing might of modern public relations

Social media is revolutionizing the way the world communicates and it is powering the public relations industry’s global ascendancy. In Asia, PR has traditionally been a relatively minor and subordinate part of the marketing mix but now it increasingly occupies centre stage. Because public relations is at its essence a social networking business, it is well positioned to thrive in the digital domain, especially in a region where mobile communications are the new marketing battleground. Media relations and publicity will always be a key part of PR, but now creating content, building communities, understanding analytics and applying the psychology of persuasion are all part of the picture. PR will always be about the art of relationships, but increasingly it is a measurable communications science.

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The marketing might of modern public relations

  1. 1. The marketing might of modern public relations The Bangladesh Brand Bob Pickard Forum Seminar 2013 @ Dhaka
  2. 2. My thesis today § Social media is revolutionizing the way the world communicates and it is powering the public relations industry’s global ascendancy § In Asia, PR has traditionally been a relatively minor and subordinate part of the marketing mix, but now it increasingly occupies centre stage § Because public relations is at its essence a social networking business, it is well positioned to thrive in the digital domain, especially in a region where mobile communications is the new marketing battleground § Media relations and publicity will always be a key part of PR, but now creating content, building communities, understanding analytics and applying the psychology of persuasion are all part of the picture § PR will always be about the art of relationships, but increasingly it is a measurable communications science
  3. 3. Sigmund Freud had an American nephew
  4. 4. Edward Bernays has been called the ‘Father of Modern PR’
  5. 5. Public relations has ‘scientific’ roots § Bernays defined a PR professional as a “practicing social scientist” whose “competence is like that of the industrial engineer, the management engineer, or the investment counselor in their respective fields” § He said that to assist clients, public relations counselors use and apply their understanding of behavioral sciences such as anthropology, history, social psychology, and sociology
  6. 6. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
  7. 7. Pre-modern analogue public relations § Based on relationships with face-to-face key § Simple events and publicity § ‘Primitive’ technology § Analogue methods § Text was ‘King’ § Ample attention span § Deliberate and slow § Enough time to tell stories § We measured media coverage § Communication to fixed locations
  8. 8. Modern digital public relations • PR becoming more a science • E-relationships • Digital methods • No attention span; distraction is a constant • People continuously online • Technology massively propagates pictures, videos, motion graphics, apps, experiences • Content is now ‘King’ • Scant time for stories • Communication to people on the move via mobile • We measure business impact and outcomes
  9. 9. Then and today § PR is telling an organisation’s story to its target audiences § So that those people will do and think § What we want them to do or think • know of the company • feel favourable towards its brand • recommend its products to others • invest in the stock • engage in online conversations • want to work there
  10. 10. What are we looking at?
  11. 11. What are we thinking about? § From its earliest days, PR has always been about the psychology of persuasion PR is all in the mind…
  12. 12. ...and the unconscious mind rules § Our deepest thoughts – the ones that account for our behaviour in the marketplace – are unconscious § “According to most estimates, about 95 percent of thought, emotion, and learning occurs in the unconscious mind —that is, without our awareness” [Gerald Zaltman] § Evidence of how the emotions of the unconscious mind drive human behaviour comes from neuroscience (using advanced new fMRI brain scans), psychology, and is being widely adopted in marketing
  13. 13. Stories tap into the unconscious mind § People tend to remember products when they are woven into the narrative of media content § They tend not to remember brands that don’t play an integral role in the story because people can see them as being ‘just ads’
  14. 14. PR pros know about storytelling • PR people spend their entire careers trying to convince executives that they should invest more in ‘earning’ editorial media coverage of their brands in news stories rather than ‘buying’ paid coverage through advertising • Because people can readily identify ads when they see them – and we tend to think that ads are supposed to be present during times and places we expect them to be – they attach less credibility to their claims • But if they see a product featured in a news narrative, people are less likely to be suspicious and more likely to trust brand messaging that isn’t visibly purchased
  15. 15. The news is a story product § The news is a product which media companies sell, and people have attached a value to it with paid subscriptions a tangible measure § News product has been produced by standards-based journalism that is supposed to be: • motivated by the pursuit of truth • resourceful in the use of research • informed by facts • governed by standards and edited with balance § News content is still big, but journalism getting smaller
  16. 16. Decline of news story quality § In much of the world, the economic basis of the traditional news media business is declining, and so is the quality of editorial product § As a result, people trust media stories less than they did before: • there are fewer reporters and editors • battles about editorial ethics versus just going with what a company hands over for content are less frequent • money is often the only thing that seems to matter • now more than ever, speed trumps accuracy
  17. 17. Reduction of news story quantity § Media companies have tried to make the news more entertaining and opinionated (rise of spectacle and sensation), and the result of this debasing of journalism is a further reduction of news’ credibility § Therefore, in many markets here are fewer eyeballs looking at a shrinking number of trusted news media stories § Less ‘signal’, more ‘noise’: the supply of journalism-grade news is shrinking; aggregated raw content keeps expanding
  18. 18. Where PR storytelling is shrinking § OK, so if a brand’s involvement in a story is still the best way for a product to get noticed... § ...then what do PR people do if there are fewer trusted news sources producing a reduced number of stories that will be credible enough to have commercial impact even if we ‘earn’ coverage successfully? § Where can PR communicate narratives if the storytelling zone is shrinking?
  19. 19. Where PR storytelling is growing § Social media, through creating brand-centric communities and starting ‘conversations’
  20. 20. What Sir Martin Sorrell says § “Facebook to my mind is not an advertising medium. It is a branding medium.” § “I think [Twitter] is a PR medium…it’s very effective word-of-mouth.” Harvard Business Review March 2013
  21. 21. The rise of peer-to-peer communications MONOLOGUE “They can’t hear me and I feel insignificant” “They must listen and I will be heard” DIALOGUE PASSIVE CON-SUMERS ACTIVE PRO-SUMERS C O N V E R S A T I O N C O N T R O L
  22. 22. B2C PR IF a declining media business can no longer generate an ample supply of compelling story content... IF, owing to its resource constraints, media is becoming an automated and uncritical B2C conveyor of pre-packaged marketing information passed to them by PR people (which may not be a good thing!) § THEN why can’t organizations fill the void themselves telling stories directly to the public?
  23. 23. What Richard Edelman says § “Every company is a media company” ZDNet February 13th 2013
  24. 24. Corporate content factories
  25. 25. Which network for what? United States data from Harris Interactive, 2012
  26. 26. Birds of a feather flock together A social network is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, ideas, financial exchange, friendship, sexual relationships, kinship, dislike, conflict or trade.
  27. 27. The digital Trojan Horse
  28. 28. Persuasion 1.0 § Going back to Dale Carnegie in 1936, we know that making people feel important is the precursor to persuasion § Once PR-driven interactions make people feel important (‘someone is listening to me’), then stories are told via conversations “Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely”
  29. 29. Communication starts with listening § ‘You are important to us’ § ‘We need your opinions to help inform our actions’ § ‘We are listening to you and you will be heard’
  30. 30. Carnegie’s other astute observation § “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity”
  31. 31. Emotions § Whether or not there is listening, of course social media increases the demand to be heard, regardless of merit § [Ironic that those demanding to be heard can often seem least interested in listening!] § ‘Me’ and ‘I’ narcissism, lack of attention span, rampant impatience, toxic anger and abuse abounds § Crowdsourcing intelligence versus mob rule?
  32. 32. Asian emotions are shared socially
  33. 33. The seven deadly digital sins 1. Lust ‘I want this’ 2. Greed ‘I need this’ 3. Gluttony ‘I must have more’ 4. Sloth ‘I haven’t thought about it’ 5. Wrath ‘I am angry about this’ 6. Envy ‘I want what s/he’s got; I am worth it’ 7. Pride ‘I am better; I deserve this’
  34. 34. The power of metaphor § Lots of work is now being done in the area of ‘conversation communication’ and ‘trans-media storytelling’ § Where the two meet allows persuasion marketers to tap into the massive PR power of metaphor § Conversation communication enables the easy application of metaphors used in everyday language for the development of marketing narrative – e.g. ‘word pictures’ – to convince consumers about a product brand with story ‘frames’ that already exist in their unconscious minds
  35. 35. Metaphor elicitation § Research is key, asking people before starting a PR campaign things like: • When you think about [company], what is the first thing that comes to mind? • What do you feel when you see this [product] image? • Can you share some of your past experience in dealing with [area where product offers some benefit]?
  36. 36. Concrete words for abstract concepts § Affection is warmth (“John is a warm person”) § Important is big (“That’s a huge job you have”) § Difficulties are burdens (“What a heavy workload”) § Actions are motions (“He’s a mover and shaker”) § Purposes are destinations (“Light at the end of the tunnel”) § Life is a journey (“Marching to the beat of a different drummer”) “The abstract way we think is really grounded in the concrete, bodily world much more than we thought.” -­‐-­‐ John Bargh, Yale psychology professor
  37. 37. We’re wired for stories Scientific American Mind Source: Hoffman (August/September 2008)
  38. 38. The modality of storytelling § Zaltman contends that while marketers tend to consciously think in terms of text, ‘real’ people unconsciously think in terms of images § As eyeballs migrate to the Internet, even ‘word picture’ text will not be enough as multimedia – videos and pictures and sounds – are being programmed by PR people for persuasion
  39. 39. Persuasion 2.0 § When people commit themselves in public to something, they have created a new ‘image template’ of themselves... § People will do and say whatever is necessary to conform with their new public image...
  40. 40. It’s ‘like’ signing a public confession
  41. 41. The death of deference
  42. 42. ‘The rebels’ used to take over the radio station!
  43. 43. Applying search insights § Using tools like Google Trends, PR people can mine search results for key words, and inject compelling metaphors into online content by combining Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics with conventional PR approaches § The ‘natural language’ words people are using to search can be discovered, the results of which can be used to tailor a narrative’s messaging elements. § Keywords can be crafted as metaphors, which can be integrated into media messaging, news releases, speech content, ‘elevator pitch,’ etc.
  44. 44. Will attention spans sustain stories? • Continuous partial attention (multitasking) has been debunked, and we now know that people can rapidly switch between mental channels with ‘the executive mind’ deciding what we pay attention to • “The internet is there for snacking, grazing and tasting, not for the full...feast that is nourishing narrative. The consequence is an anorexic form of culture. Plot lies at the heart of great narrative: but today, we are in danger of losing the plot” -- Ben Macintyre
  45. 45. Where data meets design
  46. 46. Social media is all over Asia
  47. 47. 40% 80% Global Asia Source: Global data from Burson-Marsteller Global Fortune 100 Social Media Checkup 2010 Asia data from Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific Social Media Study 2010
  48. 48. Global Source: Global data from Burson-Marsteller Global Fortune 100 Social Media Checkup 2011 Asia data from Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific Social Media Study 2011 84% 80% 40% 81% Asia 2010 2011
  49. 49. 39% 37% 36% 42% 47% 55% 53% 52% 83% Trading Technology Equipment Capital Goods Transportation Consumer Durables Banking Constuction Materials Chemical of the world’s top 2000 companies are headquartered in Asia Source: Forbes Global 2000 list
  50. 50. The digital opportunity for Asia 1800s 1900s 1980s 2000s The rise of Britain The rise of America The rise of Japan The rise of the Four Tigers 2010s The rise of China & India 2020s The rise of ?
  51. 51. Corporate Achilles’ Heels Not-so-new § Product safety § Lay-offs/closures § Environment § Human rights § Nationalism § Terrorism § Pandemics New, and growing • Customer service • Adver=sing claims • Greenwashing • Marke=ng conduct • Smart mobs
  52. 52. Professionalism of NGOs & activists
  53. 53. Speed to command the news cycle
  54. 54. Apology communications…
  55. 55. …Asia’s PR export to the West?
  56. 56. 12 months away from a digital crisis?
  57. 57. Companies unsure what to do
  58. 58. What about countries? “Troubles in Bangladesh are beginning to spoil its reputation among foreign companies that had flooded into the country—and are highlighting risks to investors looking for new manufacturing bases cheaper than China.”
  59. 59. 80 major problems identified
  60. 60. debt crisis • food prices • climate change energy supply • the digital divide nuclear security • youth unemployment
  61. 61. Governments cannot do it alone § Old systems and institutions simply cannot cope with new complexity and speed § These challenges require the engagement of an entire society of stakeholders § The role of public relations is therefore key Klaus Schwab, World Public Relations Forum 2010
  62. 62. The relationship imperative Collaborate with stakeholders for success today and sustainability tomorrow demands: § Governments need to engage corporations, NGOs and ordinary citizens in their work § Corporations must show profund accountability to all stakeholders § “Public relations in the public interest” – relationship brokerage to help bring about economic recovery, political freedom, technological advancement & social justice Source: Dan Tisch, Global Alliance for PR and Communications Management
  63. 63. What Harold Burson says § “PR is often regarded as synonymous with communication, but communication is actually only one facet of the art of public relations” § “The task of PR is actually to improve ‘relationships with society’” § “PR’s key role is to advise top officials of companies or organizations about how to act in an ethical or socially correct manner when making a decision on a course of action. In a sense, PR acts as an organization's ‘conscience’” Asahi Shimbun January 29th 2012
  64. 64. Thank you !
  65. 65. The Bangladesh Brand Bob Pickard Forum Seminar 2013 at Dhaka