Public relations is a multi-faceted and ever-evolving discipline. At its heart lie several concepts that encompass relationships, credibility, influence and persuasion. We’re constantly evaluating how to reach a target audience most effectively for a product, situation or company. Some public relations counselors have long sold the benefits of getting the proverbial placement on the Today show to reach a broad audience. Others realize that while such a placement often delivers high value, the value really lies in reaching specific consumers and linking them to the media environment most meaningful to them. No one formula, of course, works for every public relations challenge. That’s what makes this field so interesting. Every situation is unique.
This year I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking to audiences — from the graduating class of Boston University's School of Communication to the readers of the Daily Dog — about the mix of media and how it is evolving. We all must recognize that all forms of media are here to stay and are evolving simultaneously. And based on the interactions I’ve had, it seems there is agreement on this point.
At Ketchum, we recently partnered with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Strategic Public Relations Center to conduct a survey to find out what gaps might exist between what communicators are doing and what consumers really pay attention to in their search for information. We peeled a few layers from the onion and found that traditional media continues to live, but mainly in local form. (And “traditional” doesn’t necessarily mean that people are buying the newspaper because, in many cases, they are reading it online.) Still, the media sources individuals go to are varied.
While not a firm conclusion of the survey, individuals seem to be enjoying the varied and various choices. They may go to their friends and other influencers, both with high credibility, to find out what they think and where the influencers go to get the information they seek. But, ultimately, they use a variety of new and traditional media to get that information. It seems to involve both personalization and customization.
This issue of Perspectives, Ketchum’s online magazine, captures the essence of the survey and its findings. We hope you enjoy and gain from its contents and, as usual, we welcome your feedback. Simply write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Ketchum