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STUDY: Is PR’s Focus on Digital Media Detrimental to Brand Storytelling?

BPR Infographic V5 - Stories-without-borders-infographic.pdfTurns out, while managing to cram powerful, sharable, effective brand messages into 140 characters is an undeniably valuable skill, PR’s focus on digital media might be drawing vital attention away from effective storytelling.

This is according to a recent report by Berkeley 360, titled Stories Without Borders—International PR in an Evolving Media World, which explores current research and trends to discover how the global media landscape is shifting, and what that means for PR. The report states that, “the media in most countries has been transformed by digital technology, but success lies in the story, not the delivery.”

As a press release about the study explains that while boundaries are disappearing between print and digital media, between online, social and mobile channels, and between brands and their customers, the world remains a culturally, linguistically and geographically heterogeneous place—and brands and PR professionals forget this at their peril.

While social media networks remain a great way to build and engage local communities and are essential ingredients for successful PR, research shows that over half of the world’s population reads a daily newspaper, and trade publications remain the best way to influence senior decision makers. In other words: the press release is not dead, and people still want to hear a meaningful, engaging, and full-length story about the brands and companies they interact with.

Chris Hewitt, CEO of Berkeley PR, Berkeley 360’s managing partner, said in a news release:

“We live in a world transformed by technology that has changed forever the way people consume news and engage with brands. However, our study also highlights the vital importance of local market landscapes and traditional media. This blended, rapidly evolving world is giving rise to a new set of rules for PR.

One of these rules is that PR campaigns must think global but act local. Another one is the need to acknowledge that consumers everywhere want to build genuine relationships with brands. So don’t just tell them how wonderful you are—tell them a good story and listen to what they have to say. Your story should be relevant, topical and full of human interest, and strong enough to adapt easily to local market needs and different channels. Thirdly, more than ever PR must establish mutually supportive relationships with the media and with the brands it represents. We are all in this together.”

We’d say the major takeaway here is that while social media remains a vital tool for engaging customers, it’s imperative that PR professionals not underestimate people’s willingness and eagerness hear the fuller, longer story via more traditional channels. Your audience is still listening — have you fallen silent?

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