The global crises in healthcare and conflicts are not over, and the world is facing an unprecedented shift, and not necessarily in a good way. Worse, because of global crises, industries are beginning to falter and even collapse, and the fallout means livelihoods are shattered and families are hurt. As CEOs, brand movers, marketers and PR practitioners, how should we approach PR in 2023?
1. Empathy wins
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?”, Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and philosopher
Empathy is NOT pity. Empathy is the ability to sense, comprehend and visualize what feelings others are thinking of. So, why should empathy matter in 2023 for PR? Simple. The world is hurting, and there is a minority that is creating rift and mayhem for the world. We, the greater people and communities, need to steer clear of aligning with such rifts, and focus on PEOPLE. There are people in need. There are livelihoods to protect and hopefully create. There are industries to rebuild.
Against this backdrop of hurt, communication that conveys cooperation, humility, and empathy, with actionable recommendations and solutions, will go a long way. PR that concedes with humility, that shows an understanding for others, that goes into the heart of society to heal and to help, will win.
2. Communicate, not sell
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what is not said.” – Peter Drucker, business thinker
There are far too many who only see a dollar sign on another face, than to find a heart through that face. This even happens on professional social networks, where far too often, someone who does not know you, sends you a sales pitch without nary a thought about WHO you are or what you need. This is why engagement is abysmal on mainstream and social media today. Far too many seem to be preoccupied with themselves through inconsolable narcissism, than to find time and effort to converse, to learn, to share, and to love another.
In your PR program, interact with communities and people. Find out what they need and who they are, and especially their aspirations and dreams. There is nothing higher than someone’s dreams, big or small. Create forums, physical or digital, to allow discussions, however different or apart, and moderate with authenticity, kindness and collegiality. There is also silent and non-verbal communication (subtext). This is why you need to engage “whole person” communication. People like to buy from people they trust as kin or friends.
3. Own your stage
“To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves.” – Virginia Woolf, novelist
Yes, there are so many social media platforms today. Some have come and gone. Some are faltering. And a few seem to be on top. But all these platforms will come and go, and what you create and wish to say, will live and die with them.
This is why even in PR, it is important to have earned media coverage (on mainstream and other media), but also OWN your media. A website would be a good place to start. Keep a blog on your website, and keep it going with regularity. And think about how to keep your website optimized and lightweight, especially in today’s mobile-centric (or mobile-first) world. Build it for speed and legibility, not fancy designs and huge images (unless you are in that business). Expand also beyond your website into multimedia, such as hosting your own podcast and video (mirroring that on social media rather than only relying on third-party platforms).
Other than all the conventional and novel approaches we take in PR, it is also important to keep these 3 recommendations on going forward in 2023 – having empathy, communicating more rather than peddling, and owning our own stage and content.
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