There was a time when if there was a scandal within a business then a press release would be drawn up by its public relations department within the hour. In the modern world it does not seem to work in the same way. There are a number of different avenues available in which statements to the wider world can be made today, all of them seeming to be without the use of an in-house PR management department. Is this the way the PR world is now? How did it get that way?
Brands have always been involved with how they are portrayed by the media. Whether it is via press releases and statements or by carrying out an interview with someone who is influential within the media. It could be a high profile TV interview, or an interview with a prominent reporter. Such events were always carried out under the watchful eye of the internal PR department. Brands would see it as their own responsibility to control their brand reputation and an internal PR department was regarded as the best way to do so. It meant that costs and budget could be controlled by the brand itself as well as fostering more loyalty than an outside PR company would offer. Things have changed however, and the PR industry is staring into the abyss.
As the internet began to gain more influence on the world at large, the influence of internal PR departments began to wane. A blogger with a huge amount of reach could easily dismantle the work of a PR department. This meant that brands began to change tack and instead of trying to control how their brand was seen by the public, they instead tried to get influential people within their sphere on their side. Of course, if a brand has made an enemy of someone who has a large amount of influence then this can lead to false stories being widely believed. In this situation it is important to have someone like Reputation Defender on board who can protect your brand from malicious disinformation. They will make sure that anything that is false about your brand will be taken down before it has the opportunity to be widely viewed, which in turn will protect your brand reputation from any long-term lasting damage.
The social media generation
Part of the trouble that internal PR departments and PR firms in general, have struggled with, is the rise of social media influencers. Because they are able to get an opinion out to their followers within seconds of something happening, it is often difficult for your brand’s internal PR department to react quickly enough. If something goes viral then it will be spread around the world in a few hours. As the saying goes, a lie gets half of the way around the world before the truth even has its shoes on. A lot of brands have got rid of their PR departments because of that or have merged them with their burgeoning new social media departments.
While some brands have taken to social media very well and are able to use it to their advantage, not all brands are able to use it as effectively. In such situations some brands have taken to using noted influencers to carry out PR for them. When a social media influencer is able to speak directly to followers in a positive light about a brand it adds a level of authenticity to what is being said. A brand speaking about itself in glowing terms does not have as much impact as someone that people trust commenting about it. This is one of the newest forms of brand promotion that has arisen with the advent of social media.
Why PR is still important
While PR departments might be slowly dying out, PR itself is still important. A brand can lose half of its customer base or share value purely from the result of a negative impact on its reputation. Because of this it is vitally important to manage your brand reputation as well as you can. Whether this is via an active social media team or from using social influencers from within your sphere, there are a number of ways to make sure that your brand is seen in a positive light. So, while internal PR departments may be on their way out, managing PR itself is just as important now as it has ever been.