07 Apr 2017
Lessons for PR from Mumbrella CommsCon

Lessons For The PR Industry From CommsCon

This is an interesting time for those of us working in PR and comms. Technology has fundamentally reshaped the way people communicate and interact, changing the way we operate. Questions abound about whether the old rules still apply and which new methods will deliver on their promise. This makes conferences and other industry events more important than ever.

It’s an opportunity to meet with peers and hash out ideas and experiences. It also means thinking beyond the day-to-day details of our work life. Last week, I attended Mumbrella’s annual CommsCon in Sydney.

As well as giving me the chance to hear our very own Ben Shipley take to the stage to explain how the characters in Kung Fu Panda relate to PR (you can read the Mumbrella coverage of that here), I got to hear from the rest of the best in the industry. Here are my top takeaways from the day.

Traditional media isn’t dead yet  

Traditional platforms like newspapers, television and radio face increasing competition from their social and digital counterparts. Are they still holding the audience’s attention? At least partly – research from iSentia shows that traditional outlets are still breaking news. Exclusive news stories still have a big impact on society, brands and politics.  It’s not an even playing field though – The Australian publishes around 30 per cent of content under the ‘exclusive’ banner, with health, sport and construction the most popular themes. iSentia’s Chief Executive of Insights and Research, Khali Sakkas, says this could be down to journalist’s new KPIs, but it could also be because the PR industry is offering more exclusive content to place positive articles. Since these stories are often viewed as objective, they show they can still play an important role in the communications strategy, although they shouldn’t be used in isolation.

But the model has certainly changed 

The question of how to get or keep an audience is front of mind for Faris Yakob, founder of brands and media consultancy Genius Steals along with his wife Rosie. With distractions growing, media consumption is changing and to make a mark, you need to work on his three A’s – get attention, respond with alacrity and take action. Advertising is losing its value, and Faris suggests that PR agencies can take advantage of this shift, especially since advertising agencies are adopting PR tactics. Just look at Burger King’s McWhopper stunt.

The one-model-fits-all approach isn’t right for Australia   

We live in a multicultural country, so CEO and co-founder of Multiconnexions, Sheba Nandkelyar, warns that that in order to succeed brands need to personalise their message to resonate with the many cultures that call Australia home. Nadkelyar cites the differences between Western and Asian cultures as her main example, noting the two audiences can interpret a call to action differently. However, her advice does come with a warning: brands need to be wary when using direct translations to ensure they don’t cause offense.

It’s time for change

This is the year PR takes on advertising. We’ve already seen the rise of PR-centric advertising, and this is set to grow. For PR agencies to take on their media and advertising counterparts it is essential that we change the way we distribute our messages and evolve to incorporate new tactics into our campaigns, even if these tactics aren’t traditionally considered PR.

It’s an exciting time to work in communications.

Did you attend CommsCon this year? Let us know what moments resonated with you in the comments below. 


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