Did you miss the Digital Innovations Days 2020 but still want to get an idea of how the PR profession is evolving? In this article, our managing director Simone Guzzardi summarizes his speech on Friday 30th October. For those who could not be there but also for those who were there and want to return to the subject. 04 Nov 2020
Before going straight to the point, we would like to thank the organization of the Digital Innovation Days for hosting one of our speeches for the third consecutive year. In the past Simone talked about employer branding and employee advocacy, the L45 research "Journalism in the digital age" and how top managers and entrepreneurs must communicate - online and beyond - at the service of their organizations. This time it seems only right to propose a reflection on some of the changes that the pandemic, which we have been experiencing since last March, has brought to our profession. A job that we call in many ways: public relations, media relations, digital-pr or, more broadly, reputation management. All definitions that, albeit with different and important nuances, indicate a single profession. Needless to say, we do not pretend to say - or to write, in this case - the definitive words about our work and even less about the Covid-19 crisis, which in fact changes every day and forces us to sometimes review our deepest beliefs. . The following are observations gained in the field, and as such we hope that they can help the many colleagues struggling with an unprecedented scenario and that, indeed, we hope to be able to deepen verbally, on video or in written form with those who want it. Change does not change, it accelerates The first reflection, which is the premise of all the others, is that change is not changing: it is accelerating. In recent months, from the point of view of our work, we have not witnessed the emergence of new phenomena, but the extreme acceleration of trends already underway before the pandemic. The pandemic was in fact a great accelerator of change for everyone.   Mobile only: less but better For example: from mobile first to mobile only. Journalists, like the vast majority of service workers, are working from home and it is conceivable that they will increasingly take this direction in the future, frequenting the newsrooms with less assiduity. Operationally, this has resulted in the fact that by calling the editorial office today, whether at the switchboard or directly within the desired journalist, most of the time no one is found. The solution is simple in theory but not in practice: having the cell phone numbers of the journalists. The quality and depth of relationships therefore increasingly take the place of quantity. Extraordinary meetings Another phenomenon to think about, particularly in a profession based on human relationships like ours, is how the pandemic, with the consequent mass transition to virtual relationships, is affecting our profession. Lockdown aside, virtual dating has become the new normal for security reasons. But what will happen next? The feeling is that the digital mode will remain prevalent and it will be appropriate to use it for all the more routine and operational meetings. As for the meetings with the highest added value, such as lunches with journalists and accreditation meetings, the physical modality will remain essential to foster the empathic bond, capable of making a difference in these situations. To sum it up: if digital is the new normal, the physical is the extraordinary. Big data, big ideas! The explosion in the use of digital tools due to the pandemic is accelerating and fueling the growth phenomenon of big data, already firmly underway in various sectors. So how to exploit it in a sector like ours where technology is mostly still at the service of a profession carried out by human beings, without great possibility of automation of the “artisanal” work we do? We tried to give an answer with the “data pr” projects (which we had already talked about here). Companies have an enormous amount of data in their stomachs which, aggregated in the right way and with a little creativity (yes, human and irreplaceable), can become real news, succulent and unique for the media. We have already put this type of activity into practice with our client Verti, creating the VertiMovers observatory in which every month we go to tell the media curiosities and trends in the world of mobility in Italy, using original data from Verti customers and not studies of institutes. external research (as was previously the case).
Let's meet again (digitally)
Let's face it: in recent years the rite of the press conference was not in great health. Between newsrooms with raw staff and bulimia from events (especially in large cities like Milan and Rome), bringing journalists and influencers to follow a press conference required truly sensational news. And the same companies, also considering the investments of time and resources necessary for their realization, have already resorted to them more and more rarely in recent years. Closed topic, then? Surprisingly, it happened to us to revive it: thanks to the digital mode we have managed in recent months to carry out two major launches through virtual press conferences in live streaming. The first and already mentioned VertiMovers observatory and the launch of the Vattinn tie-mask, by our client Ulturale, which in a few days became a national and international media phenomenon. A win-win model: journalists were able to optimize time and connect from wherever they were and the company created a quality event (with direction, studio, moderator, equipment and technical service) by allocating a large budget. less than a traditional press conference. We believe that the pandemic has given a real new life to press conferences and that this modality will prove to be virtuous in the future as well.   Press releases are tired Another illustrious (and basically not too regretted) victim of this period is the press release, replaced - or at least flanked - by the construction of stories based on high added value content, together with journalists with whom you have a strong relationship (see the concept of mobile only above). Of course, L45's belonging to The Van group, which has always been a great producer of content in all forms, has helped us: we can in fact draw "at home" on solid editorial skills and production of textual, audio and video content. A precise choice, shared with the members of The Van since the birth of L45. So it happens that an article like this, conceived and written for our client MIP, remains three weeks on the home page of Il Sole 24 Ore. Or that a video like this, made for the launch of the Vattinn tie for our customer Ulturale, is taken up in full by dozens of publications including Corriere.it, Gazzetta.it and Radio DeeJay. In short, from the simple and intense sending of press releases to the design and packaging of quality content.   Human relations I concluded on a positive note: I believe that this difficult situation we are experiencing will make our work even more valuable if we are able to give it a higher and broader meaning. We have a unique opportunity to ennoble a profession that is too often underestimated also because of our own fault, too often reduced to a mechanical coming and going, poor in culture and uncritically at the operational service of companies. In a period of change where human relations are compressed by the situation, to use a concept that is very fashionable, we can find a new purpose - or rather, in Italian - a new purpose: from public relations to human relations. For me, it means being the center of a series of relationships between people, each bearer of their own interest as is natural, but always, first of all, people. It is only through the meeting that new ideas are born capable of creating value for all those involved. And our role is precisely to create the conditions for this to happen, working to bring it to an end. On LinkedIn to describe my work I summarized in: “I connect the dots". The challenge is to be able to see the figure hidden under the clues and to outline it progressively through our work. Not surprisingly, the union of opposites is the concept behind the name of our agency.