New Trends in Public Relations

PUBLICSThe Fact

Public relations evolves further with every passing day, particularly owing to the advents of newer technologies. For instance, Chief Executive Officers are advised to ‘go social or go home’, this signifying the primal position that social media continues to attain in the corporate world. Everybody in the field must pay attention regardless of who they are- multinationals, school directors, individuals or any other type of entity.

The Definitions

Public Relations, in layman’s terms, refers to the practice of building and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships, by an organization, with its publics, both internal and external.

Public relations is not media relations. Noteworthy, however, is that public relations practitioners must work closely with members of the press who provide them with mass access to different types of audiences.

The New Trends
Social Media
Organizations are turning their focus to their specific target markets and out of these target markets they are focusing on the 20% who are most receptive to them. This has been made much easier by social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, website, blog and many more) that give insights and tools that help organizations to sharply classify audiences. Some scholars, as a result, loosely refer to social media as ‘hyper-local media.’

Agency Public Relations
The need for strategic communications, owing to the sharper classification of audiences, has resulted in the need for strategic communications, an aspect that a good number of organizations find easier to outsource to PR agencies for various reasons.

Education-Based Marketing
This entails a company presenting itself as an expert in its area of business, by disseminating valuable information about its industry, products and services to its publics. As such the organization becomes the one-stop shop for expert advice on a number of topics/ issues, and inspires trust in its publics. It is education-based marketing that has me glued to the Karen Hospital Facebook page, for a good while every day, I dare say!

So if you manufacture shoes, tell your publics why certain types of shoes are better than others, why ladies should not wear six inch heels constantly, and how to properly aerate shoes, for example. The idea is to be so valuable to your publics that you and your expert advice are always on their minds.

Corporate Story-telling
I will never forget one Cooperative Bank of Kenya television advertisement. I’d sit still every time it aired and listen to every word so keenly. I found it so moving. The advertisement told an excellent story of how the bank could help an entire community grow!

Corporate stories, regardless of whether or not the stories are used in advertisement or other modes of communication, appeal to the emotions of people, thus when the story is good, your organization can easily acquire avid followers. The secret is to put your publics first and let them know it through excellent stories.

Mentoring & Training
This is one trend that is invaluable to any organization’s employees. Department heads and managers who have mentored new hires in their companies have significantly gained employee loyalty, and succeeded in eradicating the distance that usually exists between bosses and their employees, especially in high power distance cultures such as Kenya’s cultures.
Employees are also receiving additional training in their areas of expertise enabling them to take on more responsibilities and to be more confident.

The beauty about these new trends in Public Relations is that a majority of them require little or no money to implement, thus Small & Medium-sized Enterprises are not left out. So get with the times- you have officially run out of excuses!

Imelda Karaya, Communications & Corporate Relations Associate

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