Reading the headline you would think this was the plight of most small business owners, but actually it is a quote from an established PR pro.
It is taken from recent study undertaken by Corp Comms Magazine UK and myNEWSdesk , The Digital PR Challenge.
In a refreshingly honest report of a survey of in-house communicators responding to the digital challenges they face, the insights are significant and relevant I would suggest to most marketers and big and small business owners today.
In large corporate structures many communicators are struggling to find the resources, internal support and balance of weighting. The biggest issues raised were:
- Lack of resources
- Lack of money
- Lack of time
- Lack of training
- Lack of management support
- Pace of development
- Difficulties in measurement or evaluation
- Choosing the right platform
- Proving return on investment
- Creating engaging content
Many of the items in the list above are a challenge not only for these seasoned PR and communications pros, they are a challenge for most of us.
Lachlan Johnson, director of brand communications at Cable & Wireless Communications, said: “Social media represents the classical resource or capital expenditure dilemma. You can’t cover everything and you can’t worry about that until it becomes an issue.”
“When it becomes an issue [such as a social media crisis] you are not going to be able to make the argument that you need more resource.”
It is clear from the report that communications specialists are being stretched into multi-tasking media in a way they never have before. Eight out of ten are involved in media relations, but a whopping 92% are involved in social and digital media. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents said they were learning new skills on the go, with some admitting to picking the brains of suppliers or regularly attending events and conferences to get educated.
Content = Storytelling
Rethinking PR strategy to meet the digital environment saw Coca-Cola make a bet 18 months ago that storytelling would be the cornerstone of 21st Century communications. Coca-Cola has now replaced its corporate website with a digital magazine Unbottled and launched food and music channels.
The company’s communications KPI is engagement. This monolith of a brand has one core strategy and execution: its team produces content on what people want to read.
It does not seem like a hard strategy, making content based on what people want to read, but it is very hard to execute.
We all like reading stories and we all like reading human interest stories.
So is this the end of the press release?
Coca-Cola has said it aims to slash the number of press releases it issues globally by half by the end of this year. As part of this mission, the Coca-Cola newsroom is full of journalists who meet each morning to discuss potential stories and themes.
The prediction that all businesses, big and small, will become media owners and producers is now a reality.
Forty-five per cent of the respondents in the Corp Comms survey agreed that press releases were on the decline. Donald McCabe, director of external relations, said: “Where they were once considered documents that were placed under great scrutiny and rightly questioned and pulled apart, today they tend to be no more than emails.”
This is a game changer, as the small business owner can become storyteller, media owner and PR. The large corporates now follow the smaller nimble innovator. It’s an upside paradigm of the big company is best and right business hierocracy of old.
1. Content is at the centre of everything
One of the challenges is how you really understand what people want to read and engage with. Seems easy but is hard to execute well.
2. Applying the lessons to an internal audience
Shop Direct communications director James Evans said: “The outside world is so networked by social and the internet, how do you do that internally?”
3. Proving its value
Isolation, investment and resource all bubbled up to the surface as issues. The key to turning strong engagement into conversion is critical to proving that social media and social PR is worthwhile.
4. Balance between platforms and returns
Return on investment was referred to more than once in the report. The balance between the values of generating word-of-mouth against trying to provide certainty in an uncertain digital world is a conundrum being faced by communicators.
5. Directing resource
With a deluge of social media content and digital opportunities, looking to competitors and what is working and what isn’t, is a loose plan.
But it seems any plan is grabbed hold of in a world of controlled communication that has been disrupted by the uncontrolled.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.