How PR had to evolve with a changing media landscape

Last week, Khabane Khaby Blade made history as the most followed TikToker with an impressive 143.2 million followers on the platform. Lame was a regular guy, a factory worker fired as a New York Post refers to him.

Provided. Gomotsegang Motswatswe, Senior Account Manager at Tribeca Public Relations

With this level of tracking, however, Blade is so much more than that. He is, in fact, what the world needed during the past two years of the Covid pandemic.

His numbers confirm the audience’s appetite for content that speaks to their lived experience with a generous dose of wit and humor. Not only does he have a good level of influence, but he has also proven that innovation is imperative for current and future generations to thrive.

Know the value of innovation

A decade ago, TikTok didn’t exist, but the app, launched by Chinese startup ByteDance, has taken on a life of its own, with nuggets of relatable, fun, snackable content from everyday people and celebrities alike. .

Contrary to this, mainstream media was on a downward trajectory before Covid.

The South African media industry saw a 40% decline in print circulation last year, while we saw the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and eTV Newsamong other things, cut jobs in response to the hard times.

Compounded challenges resulting from a more junior and tense newsroom, coupled with fake news, have increased pressure on these outlets.

Distrust of the media

These have also led to a growing deficit in public trust.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022, 69% of South African respondents believe that journalists and reporters deliberately try to mislead people by saying only things they know to be untrue or that they share blatant exaggerations.

This is a sharp increase from the 61% who considered news organizations to be biased the previous year.

With audiences now more likely to trust content from people they know than content from the media, influencer campaigns with everyday, regular and relatable individuals create impact – more so than campaigns with big names behind them.

It’s no surprise that 71% of marketers surveyed as part of Kantar 2022 Media Trends and Forecasts expect an increase in influencer content investment.

Content creators are kingmakers

As audiences seek meaning and resonance in the content they consume, they also choose when and how they access that content.

It is precisely this need that has contributed to the growth of video on demand (VOD) platforms such as Netflix, Showmax, HBO Max, Apple TV and Disney+.
Additionally, content creators have become kingmakers, effectively positioning themselves as a more authentic bridge between brands and consumers.

A catalyst for public relations

All of this changed the media landscape and the result was a catalyst for the evolution of public relations.

As storytellers, what we know for sure is that impactful and lasting campaigns depend on well-informed PR strategies that are driven by data and information.

These depend on engaged audiences rather than audiences receiving information they can’t relate to or don’t use.

Additionally, successful campaigns depend on integrated media strategies that take into account our country’s unique socio-economic circumstances.

For example, relying solely on press releases or media interviews to ride the wave of publicity is no longer viable.

While securing a feature on a weekly broadsheet remains the top prize, amplifying through podcasts, which have a long shelf life, does not limit brand voice and can be curated based on the specific voice of the brand, is an excellent lever for campaigns.

Additionally, identifying strategic partnership opportunities within client portfolios for clients from completely different industries on unexpected campaigns, but with social and economic impact has become one of the ways in which public relations can show value.

Key Elements of PR

This way, we don’t just communicate what our customers and brands are doing, we’re also on board to help them leverage initiatives that speak to and align with their purpose. In this sense, we create communities.

With the instant gratification that comes from going viral or “trending” on social media, it has also become difficult for PR professionals to keep selling the slow-burn value of brand building to clients. This means that social media and, by extension, influencer strategies are not optional, but key elements of PR offerings.

How PR had to evolve with a changing media landscape

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