In previous recessions and downturns, many companies came to realise that the only way to steer themselves away of the maelstrom was to turn to the steadying ship of good PR. Perhaps Bill Gates’ aphorism – “If I’m down to my last buck, I’ll spend it on PR” – should be embraced as the mantra for the many brands that won’t be able to afford more expensive media alternatives to market their product.
The dilemma facing many companies that are deliberating upon how to communicate in 2009 is being compounded by the cyclone of digital communication options. The Borkowski development director reports a flood of new business materials flying out from beleaguered PR companies all desperate to guarantee work in the coming year. Many of the mechanisms being suggested lack authority and indicate that very few PR companies truly understand how to use the new media in the new era.
The paradox is that the fervent promises being made will have a knock-on effect that will stifle some of the really original and groundbreaking ideas that I’ve seen proffered as a new PR medium, particularly those that are delivered by mobile technology. There is a shit-storm of platforms, many of which amount to nothing more meaningful than a reskinned spam mechanic. The core consideration for brands facing all this is that they will just have to grasp the nettle and recognise that, to fully engage in consumer relationships through digital PR, they have to let the audience play with their brand.
If they’re unable to grasp this simple yet absolutely essential tenet, then the convoluted processes that many PRs feel comfortable in offering will undoubtedly add to a brand’s recessionary malaise. True innovation is going to be incredibly difficult to sell to those brands that are still confused by the medium. Lame campaigns which just hoodwink brands will obviously fail and, when they do, they will also puncture the enthusiasm for the new mediums that’s been growing in the new PR.