By PRSA-SV President David McCulloch, PRSA-Silicon Valley President and Cisco Director of Corporate Communications
According to the panel of PR industry leaders at PRSA Silicon Valley’s annual Future of PR event, to be successful in the future, PR professionals must:
That’s the advice from veteran start-up launcher and Atomic PR CEO Andy Getsey, Dell VP of Communications Kelly McGinnis, Facebook Director of Technology Communications David Swain and University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism Associate Professor Burghardt Tenderich. The panel was moderated by PRWeek Editor-in-Chief Steve Barrett and the event brought together 90 leaders of Silicon Valley’s corporate, agency and start-up PR teams who responded to our poll about their priorities:
During the lively panel discussion, Swain added that “focus” and “international expansion” are top priorities for his Facebook team, along with developing a no-fuss, fast-paced approach to reviewing program success and adjusting strategy.
“Sometimes the goal for us is to drive very little coverage and we don’t need to conduct exhaustive research to know whether we’ve been successful,” he said, adding that PR life at Facebook can be quite different than at other companies seeking the limelight.
Getsey passionately addressed the audience’s top priority. “Our job is to change people’s minds,” he urged, noting that too many PR teams still use measurement to justify budgets rather than to demonstrate impact. “Our obsession with measuring and listening has to evolve into a focus on analyzing programs and outcomes so that we can adapt and improve strategy. We have to understand shareholder goals, drive sales, influence web traffic, and solve issues,” he said.
The panelists all agreed we must create effective content if we’re going to be successful in PR, but cautioned not to view corporate content as a replacement for quality journalism or analysis.
“We’re not trying to disintermediate the media with our brand journalism efforts, said McGinnis. “We’re trying to add a fresh perspective to ongoing conversations. For us, success is having our content re-published elsewhere, because someone recognizes we have something valuable to contribute to a discussion.”
Weighing in on how the changing demands of corporate and agency PR teams are leading the Annenberg School for Journalism and Communications to think differently about how to train students for a future in PR, Tenderich explained that his school is working hard to address two issues.
“An understanding of what happens in the boardroom is still a common PR shortcoming. On the other hand, USC is wholeheartedly embracing new media alongside teaching foundational skills. We are entirely refocusing our curriculum around content creation,” he said.