With the 2016 presidential election upon us, Pierpont leaders Jim Savage and Nancy Sims were invited to shed light on how the current political landscape and ongoing public affairs relationships impact communications professionals. Savage and Sims spoke at recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) events in Dallas and Houston.
The PRSA Dallas UnSummit was the first PRSA event of its kind, composed of many speakers offering back-to-back seven-minute talks with themes ranging from “PR Deconstructed” to “Personal Upgrades.” At the event, Savage explained that the 2016 presidential election has been the latest event to shatter much of the accepted PR wisdom about what constitutes effective communications. In fact, he said we may be entering a new post-literate, post-digital era of asymmetrical messaging that is more akin to marketing than what we think of as public relations.
As Savage explained, this could change the very core of the public relations profession. In an integrated world, he contends communicators need to learn from other disciplines–such as business, psychology, linguistics, economics and sociology–and evolve in order to be successful counselors.
In Houston, Sims was invited to participate in PRSA Houston’s PR Day, an annual event featuring industry thought leaders with backgrounds in traditional public relations and communications, government and public affairs, digital marketing and social media, among others. Sims shared insights on the importance of maintaining relationships with public officials, citizens and influencers in the community—and how social media is a critical conduit of information to these stakeholders, during her presentation “Posts, Public Affairs and People.”
According to Sims, social media often acts as a news source today, and many times, uncontrolled concern may be raised in communities from one misinformed post. “Most businesses are not prepared to handle social media during a crisis,” she explained. “We now learn, and sometimes our clients learn, about crisis situations through social media.”
According to Sims, organizations should ensure their communications plans are updated to reflect how they will factor in social media during a crisis. This includes proactively engaging with elected officials and supporting the community on an ongoing basis to familiarize stakeholders with your organization so they can get to know you in a positive light before a crisis strikes.