Tim Hughes writes…
“It was 20 years ago today …” So go the lyrics to the Beatles song “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Twenty years on from establishing Hughes Public Relations, there are few practicing public relations professionals who would ever have known those words, let alone remember them. Similarly, they wouldn’t remember type-writers, teletext machines, and our industry’s reliance on couriers to deliver urgent news releases to clients for approval – and to media for coverage.
A lot has changed – for the better.
Over the past 20 years, I have seen the widespread adoption of mobile phones and mobile technologies (I look back and laugh at the brick phone I invested in when I started the consultancy in 1992!); the advent of the internet; the establishment of email as the instant global communication tool; the emergence of digital media including social media, citizen journalism and the delivery of instant, global news to our fingertips 24/7.
New technologies have brought many opportunities to the public relations profession. We have been able to lift our sights geographically and look after our clients’ global needs from one location; we can reach media around the world at the touch of a button; and demand for our services as ‘brand managers’ as a result of the instant transmission of news, the rapid escalation of issues and their exponential global spread has led to our services being more highly valued by business and government.
New technologies have also brought challenges. In 1992, I personally knew most of the journalists I dealt with; our clients’ marketplace lay largely within 20 kilometres of the office; and most just wanted to see themselves in the Adelaide media. Today, we are charged with delivering communication support to clients around the world; reaching audiences who today don’t read newspapers, listen to radio or watch free to air TV but who instead glean their information and entertainment from the web, through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and a myriad of special interest blogs and apps on their mobile phones and iPads.
The new global landscape has also placed far heavier responsibilities on the shoulders of professional communicators. Today, we are charged with managing the reputation (and value) of global brands in an unforgiving environment where instantly available information (or mis-information) can have a multi-million dollar positive or negative impact on the value of shares or sales.
Twenty years on, the fundamentals of business communication haven’t changed.
- Reputation (or brand) is vitally important to organisational success;
- Honesty (as opposed to “spin”), delivery of the “promise”, and transparency remain fundamental to a positive reputation;
- Effective communication strategies (tied irrevocably to business strategy) – and their timely delivery – are essential tools in promoting and protecting ‘brands’ in an increasingly crowded, competitive and ‘fickle’ global market.
Today, however, developing and delivering these strategies is far more complex – and that’s where experience counts.
Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy in Adelaide with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital and social media, community engagement, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.