“What’s the story?”. “So what?”. “Who cares?”. “Why is that interesting?”. Everyone who has worked with me is used to me asking all these questions – a lot. I’m a journalist. I’m a storyteller. Stories are what make me tick and I want to help my clients tell great ones.
So I almost danced a little jig around Jo Willey Media HQ when I spotted this press release from the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) – detailing, among other things that “Proper’ PR” is set to prosper. Oh how happy that has made me. “Proper” PR!
It seems that PR is going back to basics in the 2020s. That means re-identifying with the classic skills of the profession: media relations and – most importantly – storytelling. Hurrah!
Yes, it will be combined with the new stuff. You know, the insight-led content marketing. The actionable KPIs. Integrated campaigns. The harnessing of data and analytics to embrace “creative listening” to gain extra insights (I LOVE this – using information to tell you if your PR is working as it happens – amazing and exactly the right kind of innovation the industry SHOULD be embracing! )
But as I said, I’m all about the stories. And it is more than heartening to know that, despite sometimes mind-boggling technological advances (AI machine learning, anyone?), that good, old-fashioned storytelling and media relations are still right at the beating heart of the PR industry as it motors towards a new decade.
Because, let’s face it. We human beings are all storytellers. It’s what makes us human – we use them to communicate with each other and form relationships. They are how society formed and how communities are created – and how they thrive.
It’s not always easy to know what your story is – or how best to tell it. My decades of experience working in national newspaper newsrooms means I can sniff out a story even in the most seemingly mundane of things. And I believe ensuring that PR always focuses on what story you want to tell is how the industry will continue to prosper – so forget the story at your peril.
As a fully-fledged freelancer, the other PR industry predictions that brightened my day are Numbers 1 and 2. This year is apparently going to be a freelancers world according to the PRCA (Cue a big resounding cheer from the growing army of freelancers in the UK – across myriad industries!) And why shouldn’t it be a freelancers world?
Technology is now such that there is little that cannot be achieved remotely. The fact that freelancers are finally starting to be recognised as a truly valuable part of PR and communications is why prediction number 2 – and the anticipated rise of virtual networks – is also exciting.
As a Core member of The Difference Collective – the UK’s first virtual healthcare agency – I already know how successful this way of working can be.
So it’s great to hear that the wider PR world is finally recognising the shift towards flexible working – both the desire of practitioners to work this way and also the acknowledgement from industry leaders that it is a practice to be embraced, not be frightened of.
One thing’s for sure: The forward-thinking PR and communications industry will thrive if it continues to embrace the new – while keeping one eye firmly on its core skill – brilliant, inventive, thought-provoking, authentic storytelling.