Opinion: Why we’re in the dying days of spin

Opinion: Why we’re in the dying days of spin

Steph Bailey, FleishmanHillard Fishburn managing director, corporate, details what the agency uncovered in its recent Dying days of spin report into issues consumers expect companies to take a stand on.

There has never been a better time to be in PR. Seriously.

After long years in the marketing wilderness our discipline is finally getting its turn in the spotlight. So, what has finally caused this embrace of our profession?

Big, thorny issues.

It’s relatively easy to quickly react to a topical issue and create content that is pushed out across paid and owned channels, but when you choose the wrong issue, or it seems self-serving or against your organisational values, audiences react badly.

This is where PR experts come in. We are good at understanding the context in which a company works. We have considerable experience in developing a campaign strategy that is aligned to a company’s values and we are great at creating well-considered campaigns that allow a company to take a stand on issues that are important to their audiences.

And there has never been a greater need for this.

Why PR experts are valuable

Understanding what to comment on, how to comment and who should be commenting is not a light undertaking. Assumptions that consumers only care about price and quality are no longer true.

In fact, of 1,000 consumers we surveyed*, four in five are willing to stop using a product or service if they disagreed with a company’s response to an issue, and 38% said they actively endorse a company taking a stand.

These numbers are only ever going to get higher. This is a dramatic shift from past indifference as we see purchasing decisions being shaped by how a company responds to social issues.

Expectations have never been so high, and this is not solely from millennials, the previously ‘silent’ generation as well as baby boomers also demand action from companies. These generations cannot afford to be ignored.

There were other surprises in the report. Much has been said about the value of peer-to-peer communications, but when it comes to the issues consumers find important, they want to hear from the CEO or other c-suite executives.

But, merely talking about a topic is not enough, a company has to show real business change.

The future of PR is bright

These are exciting times for the PR industry. Finally, we have the tools to emerge from the shadows of our counterparts and show them how to build real and credible campaigns.

In the backlash against fake news we cannot allow a regression to bad, old times. Customers want to believe, they want transparency, and they want real action.

These are the dying days of spin.

*FleishmanHillard Authentic Insights were developed by TRUE Global Intelligence

To find out more about the future of PR and why the industry is becoming ever-more crucial to organisational success, register now for CommsCon on 6 November at Hawker House, where industry leaders will discuss PR’s future and a lot more.

Register here

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