In a few short years, the mediascape as we know it has completely revolutionised. Where publishing content was once an act reserved for media, now anyone with a phone, Internet connection and email address can make anything public, thanks to social media. This ease of access has given birth to millions of words and thoughts, each screaming and clamouring for attention – which increases in value by the minute. And because everyone has the power to publish content online, it’s becoming harder and harder to determine what is true, and what is false. Every action a company takes, every tax avoidance manoeuvre, every word spoken by the CEO, every Tweet he sends: everything is PR.
In his keynote address at the 2017 Mumbrella CommsCon, co-founder of strategy and innovation consultancy Genius/Steals, Faris Yakob, spoke about this new media environment, suggesting that the public is now the media and relating to it is now the PR practitioner’s most important job.
Here are 6 key lessons we took away from the session:
- The three pillars of persuasion: When you attempt to persuade someone, you are attempting to do one of two things – or perhaps both. For one, you may be trying to convince them that your personal truth is the truth. Second, you may be trying to convince a person to act: offer a job, a raise, a ride to school, change a policy, join you in a political protest. These objectives are at the heart of many PR and communications campaigns. The secret to achieving them, and to cutting through the clutter of content, is to appeal to the three pillars of persuasion – ethos, logos and pathos.
- Beware of the illusory truth effect: Because anyone has the power to publish content online, it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish truth from false. The illusory truth effect is the tendency to believe information to be correct after repeated exposure, meaning people tend to think that statements they have heard twice are more true than those they have encountered only once. Concerns have been raised about the prominence and popularity of false news stories spread on platforms such as Facebook. In fact, a BuzzFeed analysis found that the top 20 false election stories generated more shares, likes, reactions and comments than the top 20 stories from major news organisations in the months immediately preceding the US election in 2016.
- Craft key messages using framing, repetition and metaphors: Figuring out how to capture and hold people’s attention is the centre of modern capitalism. Framing, repetition and metaphors are great tools to use to ensure message retention.
- Culture is low-latency: The Internet’s ability to transverse geographies and spread messages and trends quickly highlights its influence on culture. PR practitioners must be prepared to respond quickly to these changes and inject their messages in such dialogue.
- Use the mediascape to your advantage: The analog media flow once saw messages passed on from clients to public relations practitioners, to the media and finally to the public. The new media environment has reversed this flow, with the public now dictating what becomes news. PR practitioners and marketers alike can use this new mediascape to their advantage by engaging with the public and using their insight to add to their messages.
- Actions speak louder than words, and are more effective: No matter how skillful a writer you are, the best way to spread your message is through action. This could be by helping people live better through experiential marketing, informing and entertaining through stories or engaging them through influencer marketing.
In this new media landscape, every action a company takes, every tax avoidance manoeuvre, every word spoken by the CEO, every Tweet he sends: everything is PR. As we learnt from Faris Yakob, the biggest key to standing out from the crowd is relating to the new media landscape and taking it in your stride.