The PR and marketing landscape has forever changed, thanks to the ever-present giant that is the internet – never was this more obvious than when I looked at my audience at the SearchLove conference, which consisted of a plethora of technophiles looking lovingly at their laptops.
Interestingly enough, I was there to speak about PR cut-through in a digital age – an age that sees the ‘scroll of death’ as a daily occurrence. However, cradled handhelds and retina displays aside; I aimed to impress that the power of story is not lost; we must simply learn how to harness the crowd within a ‘Now Economy’.
It has been said that the future has an ancient heart, and I believe that we need to pay attention to the ‘Goliaths’ being brought down by the ‘Davids’, listen to what the crowds are saying and harness the emotion within. During my talk, I spoke briefly about the work I did with Cadbury’s ‘Wispa’, a campaign, which was informed and shaped by an already existing love for the classic chocolate bar. I created a platform to showcase the very real and public desire to ‘Bring back the Wispa’, which then organically exploded by culminating in a ‘Bring back the Wispa’ banner being dragged on stage at Glastonbury. Upon this event occurring, my client immediately called, demanding I reveal the steps in creating such a stunt. I told him that I didn’t pull off a stunt, and instead explained, that this is what happens when people love a product more than the brand does. In essence, I listened to what the crowd were saying, and I harnessed that message.
There is the mass assumption that PR is simply flogging a process, and it’s well and good that some people continue to operate within that money-making paradigm, however, the real change happens when you stay present and pay attention. We live in a fast-paced economy with a 24-minute news cycle, and while PRs have traditionally understood the power of the crowd, it’s more important to respect the crowd and pay attention to the truth that they are espousing, because that is where the real story lies. Never has this been more obvious that at the end of my SearchLove speech – I assumed the myriad of laptops and silence equated to a lack of interest and attention, however, a quick glimpse at my twitter account, post talk dispelled that assumption – I just hope that people were absorbing the information in addition to aggregating it.
“It’s not where you take things from; it’s where you take them to.” Jean-Luc Godard.