When we talk about PR we have in mind A strategic communication lever, but in reality we know that there are at least two souls of PR, driven by totally different and distant approaches.
On one hand, Institutional Public Relations close to top management of companies and C-suite and focused mainly on Corporate Communication, Reputation management and CSR. On the other hand, the most “prosaic” PR of brands and products, directly oriented to promotion, closer to Marketing and experienced as an important asset in this area.
Divisions that often coexist also within companies living as “separated at home”, with distinct offices and reduced interactions.
This distance, grown within the companies, has in fact produced a forced separation even in the agencies world. Although in our agency we have always taken care of both fronts, adopting an integrated approach from the beginning, it is undeniable that in the general scenario the two worlds are parallel and without a common language.
But things are changing.
The two souls of PR, increasingly unified…
It’s no mystery that digital has broken down many barriers, disintermediating relationships between people and promoting a fruitful contamination between different worlds for a new, more democratic and participatory form of communication.
It’s a common saying that the drivers of this change are the Millennials, a generation that is now spoken of as a “mythological figure” to whom all the mutations of reality are attributed!
What is certain is that the advent of social media has triggered a revolution that has brought words like sharing, transparency, commitment and coherence at the forefront.
We all know the power of a click, we all know that we can make an impact… just like consumers, and for this reason we are increasingly directing our choices towards brands that respect and share our values and our commitment.
Today the product alone is no longer enough. Quality is always crucial but has become a prerequisite. It’s not even enough for a brand to touch your emotions or make you fall in love.
Today the social credibility of the brand and the ability to enter our lives sharing causes and values we care about are increasingly important.
Brands’ new role
According to the most recent researches by our friends working at Ipsos Research Institute, more than half of Italians (52%) say they want brands that can make a difference in the world (62%, instead, the European average) and 77% highlight the cause for the environment as the top priority.
In this context, consumer choices are strictly connected with life choices and push companies in a new direction where product and reputation, marketing and social responsibility are firmly linked.
And it is here that the two souls of PR, unified, can play a leading and bridging role with projects that can finally break down barriers giving a new depth to the story, thus able to generate empathy and get straight to the heart.
The smartest companies had already figured that out. The award-winning international PR campaigns that I had the pleasure to analyze as a member of the Jury for Italy at the Eurobest Awards 2018 are all focused on social issues close to the companies’ business, where brands become the spokesperson of topics on the agenda: from diversity to cyber-society risks, to global warming.
It is no longer simply a matter of obeying to a protocol of CSR activities or occasionally supporting a charity, but rather a genuine commitment that is shaped around the brand and becomes its focus.
Our hope is that the number of companies with a truly integrated PR sensitivity will soon grow in Italy too, becoming ready to join communication campaigns that bring together Brand Reputation and Marketing.