Opinion: Is PR a science or an art?
The rise of data has certainly helped PRs get messaging to the right people, in the right place, at the right time, says Splendid Communications’ head of performance, Gavin Taylor. But, he argues, instinct and intuition still have a role to play when creating stories that can really travel.
The definition of PR is ‘relating to the public’. So it’s not limited to press releases and news rooms, but encompasses a wide range of spaces and invites a creative freedom. PR is now a sizeable task, as you have to take into account different behaviours and environments in which the public play.
We need to take into account the following:
- People, or the public, are mobile – 80% of internet users own a smart phone and 92% use their smartphone as their primary device to access the internet.
- The public are social – on average, individuals have five social accounts.
- The public are connected – 91% of millennials have a second screen whilst watching television.
- The public are in control – It used to be that a loud voice and a decent ad spend was all you needed to get your message across to consumers. Now they can remove brands from feeds, unfollow, skip ads and activate ad blocking. Never before have individuals had so much power over how and when they receive communications.
Brands need to consider these points when they build their comms plans.
In addition, the growth and diversity in consumer touch-points means that traditional practices will no longer cut it. That being said, the old rules still apply. You have to hit the right people with the right message in the right place at the right time.
Data has certainly enhanced a marketer’s ability to tap into the right people in the right place at the right time. The evolution of capabilities in data, analytics and technology means that we know where, when and who consumers are.
So, when there is such a wealth of data available, why would brands go out on a limb and challenge an insight that has proven to resonate with your target demographic at a certain time?
However, all of your peers have access to the same third-party data as you, and sometimes your product USP is not quite enough to cut it with today’s time poor audience. How to make them care is just as big a challenge as always was.
So, how do you get cut through? Intuition.
Using intuition to find that “real world truth” will unveil territories to play in that may not have been visible from pure data. At Splendid we believe that accessing the “real world truth” will provide a gateway to tap into the conversation between two friends, or those shared memories from childhood or an internal point of view or opinion of an aspect of the world.
Once you have that insight, you then have to bring it to life. The only way to connect to real people is to tell the story in real world terms. Having the right insight at the root is a great foundation to growing a story that travels.
There is, however, a need for consistency, which is where data has another role to play. If your concept is to travel, it should not be confined to one communications discipline. PR is not always as measurable as other channels. However, if we’re relating to the public, then understanding how that story resonates with people within the environment they choose to consume it within is imperative.
So is PR an art or science? The answer is both, however the role of the art should not be diminished due to increasing capabilities of the science.
Developing a story that travels can be data driven, however thinking of PR as ‘relating to the public’ will unlock creative routes that span across multiple touch points. Data most definitely has a role in planning how to amplify the idea, but discovering the ‘real world truth’ will help find an idea that will resonate.
- Gavin Taylor joined Splendid Communications as head of performance in February 2016, with a brief to enhance the agency’s digital and creative offer. Before that, he spent four years at digital marketing agency iProspect Enterprise as performance director and head of B2B. Before iProspect, Taylor held a senior role at I Spy Marketing, where he led its search team.