World Communications Week: How Technology Changed the Practice of PR


digital transformaion pr - Comms Week


Sally Falkow, CEO, Meritus Media

This week the focus is on communication – something that is vital to every aspect of our lives. 

And if you are working in marketing, PR, social media, or communications in the workplace, it is the very core of your profession.  Although there are the accepted rules of good communication that have stood the test of time, technology has disrupted, and in some cases completely upended, the process. 

A quick look back

The term Digital PR first appeared around 20 years ago. Pioneers in the field had begun introducing the ideas of online communication to companies and the advances in technology have certainly changed the practice of PR. 

To be successful in PR today you need to know about websites, mobile, search engines, blogs, social media, content creation, influencers, and analytics. The basic rules remain the same – what are you trying to achieve, who is your audience, what medium will you use to reach that audience, and how will you deliver the messaging.  But how you implement your PR strategies and tactics has changed completely.

Where are we now?

According to Pew research, 82 percent of Americans say they get news on a smartphone, computer, or tablet.  Those who get their news from digital devices continues to p outpace those who get their news for TV. Those who regularly get their news from TV is down to 31 percent in 2022.

Half of Americans get news from social media, and about a quarter (23%) say the same of podcasts

This is a fundamental shift for the practice of PR.  If PR is based on reaching an audience using the media they use regularly, then it’s a no-brainer that we must rethink our skills and functions. 

The need for digital skills

In a recent survey conducted by Meritus Media, the top two skills PR practitioners wanted to learn are effective content creation and analytics.  Both fields require digital skills. 

A quick review of the PR jobs listed on Indeed and LinkedIn shows that 80 percent require digital skills.  They’re looking for someone who can navigate the new digital media world and get results.  Success in a digital-first world is impossible without a digitally savvy workforce. An estimated 85 million jobs will go unfilled globally by 2030 due to skills shortages, resulting in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues.

Meet the Moment

This year Ragan’s Communication Week has the theme Meet the Moment.  The focus is on the fact that this is a defining moment for the PR and Communications professions. “The silver lining laid bare by the pandemic, social unrest, political division, the Great Resignation and a heated economy has cast you and your fellow communicators as strategic leaders in your organization.”

Their mantra?  This is the moment. Meet it; don’t squander it.

Your best route to success in 2023

Level up your digital skills

Take stock of your digital sills and put a training program in place so that you are equipped to deliver the best possible results to your clients or your company.

Here are some of the skills routinely required in PR and Comms job postings:

Search Engine Optimization of content for greater visibility and exposure

Creation of visual content that gets results

Understanding analytics so you can track results

Make strategic partnerships with other departments

PR and Comms no longer exist in a silo.  Learn how you can work with HR, ESG, Marketing, and even IT and web design. Digital transformation is likely to affect your work in these areas – using digital tools and intelligence to understand stakeholders and build an omnichannel presence.

These collaborations with keep you in the loop as your organization or client makes digital decisions that will keep them relevant. 

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