The Public Relations profession and professionals are now moving swiftly into the New Media Age, with optimism that that this is the best chance to effective communications and success in the communications business. By harnessing their expertise and strategic thinking to established media such as TV and radio, as well as all the new electronic wizardry such as the Internet, and its corporate offspring the Intranet, PR professionals have the power to control their own and their companies destiny.

For the first time, they have some valuable gains within this that gives them an edge to perform and deliver results. For instance:

  • Access to vast amounts of data at great speed, giving them the tools to develop information based strategies quickly rather than relying on instinct based PR.

  • The capability to implement the strategies and to reach targeted markets in India and globally with equal ease and effectiveness.

  • The expertise to research, evaluate, and analyze the impact of their programmes to highlight the value and success of the return on the client’s investment in the PR and image building effort.

The power of information, today

At the heart of most effective public relations campaigns is the need to receive, disseminate and discuss pertinent corporate, or other, information among the target audiences or “stakeholders”. 

The PR practitioner today can now dig into and check into a goldmine of information in print or online sources and databases – I would say resources – available. With such power at their fingertips today , they  can support clients, raise issues with the media and effectively deploy new communication opportunities.

Distributing information is equally easy, given that we today have a fair share of PR agencies and professionals, ad agencies, journals and channels, news agencies, and computer networks and sites for transmission and exchange of corporate information and PR to media and other target groups. The means of communication is determined on the basis of scope of information, timeliness and technology. The most recent being transmission of information, such as press releases, online and straight into the editorial computers at the other end! Not something unusual, but a reality today. Abroad the Internet offers another opportunity. Professional and enterprising companies  have already established online systems for reaching out to the media. They work on the principle of a sophisticated bulletin board to which registered journalists and media persons can go and download company information and photographs, and another one of this kind directs the information or story to pre-determined list of e-mail addresses of journalists and other segments of the audience desired to be reached and on the list. In the next two or three years, it will be possible to distribute and download broadcast quality video from the Internet which will compete with the normal efficiency and cost of satellite distribution.

Reaching global markets through VNR

Global markets in the past have been somewhat out of reach of PR and PR professionals. But since the 90s, with the link of satellite transmission and video (VNR), this has become possible in the form of video news releases and the like. This was possible in the US and Europe from the 80s, but India has caught on now making it possible for companies doing PR at a global level. Particularly with the globalisation effort in respect of Indian companies going abroad to market their products in a big way, Indian companies setting up operations there and even buying companies in the countries where they are present. Broadcast companies such as BBC and many of the TV channels regularly take a large amount of corporate PR material and information in this way.  Technology today drives the process – rushes to final edits, high speed newswire stories free of charge for broadcast, regular monitoring and tracking of information and the impact it has. All this leading to greater knowledge and understanding in the PR realm.

Satellite Media Tours (SMT)

Saletellite media tours today are equally popular  technology based PR tools. From a single location target audiences are fed live information to any predetermined television channels and stations anywhere in the world – from one-t-one interviews, which are either broadcast live or pre-recorded and used. The SMT is the ideal support for a new product launch, sales promotion, breakthrough news, and even in crisis situations, where speed, accuracy and consitency of communications are vital.

Media research and evaluation

This recent wave of IT incorporation in PR industry has brought research and evaluation to the forefront in acheiveing professionalism in communication, which earlier was more a case of judgement and gut feel. The research and evalution  business has burgeoned from counting the column inches to new and refreshing approaches for evaluating  effectiveness of media exposure  and PR activities through marketplace research and audits -- pre and post programme or campaign. Corporations, trade associations, government departments, and even political parties employ firms with research and evaluation skills to identify and track trends, monitor competitive activity, hightlight problems ans opportunities, and contibute to the client’s corporate communication and marketing stragies. Medi research and evalution is today the fastest growing and competitive segments of  PR and advertising businesses.

In all this the key aspect today is accountability of the message or communication (content),  impact in media, the budget, and the future course of action viz the objectives and the level of their acheivemnt through the programme or campaign undertaken. Things have gone far beyond the PR departments and agencies (as in the last decade) totting up column inches of publicity in the Press to justify their success and existence to clients!

New PR telecommuters!

The PR profession is one of the candidate for working from home (telecommuting) online and remotely instead of going to office every day! Computers (E-mails), mobile phones (with all the features available today), scanners, the up-to-date printers, and other technologies have enabled some established ad agencies and PR agencies to restructure their traditional organizations to gain greater productivity. New agencies have been st up, and independent consultants are now available to conduct PR more easily, efficiently, and cost effectively as a result of the availability of “in home” technologies. Sending out releases, talking to the clients, receiving and executing briefs, and implementing strategies are all possible with thies technologies sitting right in your home or private office. Free from office distractions, tranportation, and a better balance between personal and professional commitments.

A survey of some Fotune 1000 companies conducted by Telecommute America found that a majority of responding executives cited many more benefits of working with the technology at home, including improved morale and stress, reduced office space cost, improved employee retention and lower absenteeism, and overall higher productivity. Hence, as one sees technology now exists to research, plan and implement a PR programme virtually, or even meeting the client or media journalists in person.

Telemeetings – “no meeting” meetings

Interactive video conferencing is a common thing today, and on the increase for PR and other purposes. Adding a new and time-efficient diamension to multi location planning meetings, conferences, sales and investors seminars/presentations, and the like. Thus replacing personal meetings of people from different locations, saving expensive executive time and travel costs, and reducing overall meeting stress and paperwork Burson-Marsteller it seems has set up its own closed circuit television network linking offices and people all over the world for staff and client meetings. Shandwick uses working on Intranets that are virtual library for MNC clint programmes and new business development.

Investor-relations and financial institution relations in PR are also greatly possible through technology to enhance effectiveness of PR. Especially corporate announcements and performance news. Besides Internet some organizations in the field are also using toll free telephone numbers for clients and customers to get information and to conduct business and PR.

Internal communications

Effective internal communications today are becoming increasingly important and desired at companies the world over – so also in India. Managemn’t recognition that greater employee empowerment has led to internal communications being on the top of most corporate agendas.