Digital transformation demands change from communications pros

With the media landscape shifting and individuals using various platforms to amplify their voices, public relations and communications professionals can’t do their jobs the way they did five -- or even two -- years ago.

Four megatrends are fueling a digital revolution with seismic impact on business, said Sally Falkow at November’s PRSA Tampa Bay luncheon. Those trends -- cloud computing, big data, mobile devices’ emerging dominance and social technologies -- force communications professionals to learn new skills and rethink their strategy in an age when Google has become many people’s most trusted news source, she said.

“What shows up on that first page of Google is very much your reputation,” said Falkow, CEO at Meritus Media, a social media and digital PR agency. “Nothing disappears on the Internet.”

PR practitioners must develop and use the skills to monitor, manage and measure their engagement with the community and its impact, Falkow said. Those who do will make more money.

Monitoring how people talk about and interact with your product or service can lead to content ideas and even new directions for your business focus, she said. As an example, she cited Rosetta Stone, which discovered a number of older people interested learning a second language. Why? Because some research suggests learning a second language can stave off dementia. This opened a whole new marketing opportunity for the company.

People voluntarily share an enormous amount of information through Facebook and other outlets. Some find that scary, but for Falkow: “As a PR pro, I say it’s fantastic.”

An emerging trend, Falkow said, is the rise of visual communication. She said 75 percent of media articles have visual or multimedia components, but 95 percent of the time entrepreneurs and communications professionals don’t provide visual content. By 2018, Falkow expects 84 percent of communications will be visual.

If you think about what the reporter is asked to do and needs and supply it for them,” she said, “they're going to love you.”

3 recommendations from Sally Falkow

  1. Read “The ClueTrain Manifesto,” which explores the Internet’s impact on marketing and communications

  2. Take the online Google Analytics Academy training

  3. Embrace visual public relations