PR in an Age of Rapid Technological Changes Pt2

“For many companies the most visible manifestation PR work is the earned media placement, that is, an article, interview, or segment that features their brand. But like any kind of brand content, the stories created are the culmination of weeks or even months of research, planning and toil,” says one expert.

PR is a two-way street. People who study classic theory swear by James Grunig’s four models. The recommended of the four is the two-way symmetrical model where experts use reciprocal messaging to position a brand among end-users. A free-flow of information takes place between the brand and its stakeholders, employees, investors and vice-a-versa.

Conflicts and misunderstandings are resolved through mutual communication and understanding. Two-way communication takes place between both parties and information flows in its desired form. The feedback from target audiences and stakeholders is critical for brands to take into consideration make decisions. The relationships created will not only be genuine but enduring as well.

While PR is about telling the brand story, a good team also serves as a source of business intelligence, gleaning insight from target audience’s feedback, what they are thinking and saying about the brand. Business people who aren’t using PR tools and tactics to better understand customers, employees, influencers, and other stakeholders are not maximizing their communication assets and investment.

A top PR program should build trust, improve relationships with key audiences, not by merely broadcasting through media platforms. It can and should work in both directions. When using the PESO model, earned media should be the beginning, not the end. Most companies still think of publicity (earned media) as a successful outcome of a PR campaign, but the coverage received is often the beginning.

“The way we use consumer news and other content has changed drastically, so successful promotion of earned media is essential to success because it’s based on traction build from genuine interaction. A good PR team will urge clients to promote their coverage on social media, include it in sales presentations and proposals, share it with stakeholders in company communications, add it to the website press centre, and merchandise it to get more media coverage,” advise the experts at Crenshaw.

They rightly observe that in an increasingly tech-driven world, the tools and platforms have changed and grown more sophisticated, and in most cases, data-driven. Now available to us are a number of ways to shape a brand narrative, from influencer videos, thought leadership and high-level opinion content.

But what hasn’t changed is the importance of the story and its power to grab someone’s attention, engage them, and influence their attitude or behaviour. Right at the heart of a good PR program is the story, in spite all the changes that are taking place in the market.  

Lenox Mhlanga is the Lead Consultant at Magna Carta Reputation Management. He serves on the council of the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Relations (ZIPR) and can be contacted at

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