Social media continues to evolve and disrupt in equal measure. But where is it heading, and what does that mean for public relations practitioners?

Co-host of PR Leads Dionne Lew recently delivered a seminar presentation on the future of social media, and in preparation she posted a video on Facebook asking:
Should we stop calling social media, 'social media' or just realise that it includes a whole lot more now than when it first erupted nearly 14 years ago?

Instant feedback provided to Dionne was that many people had been asking the same question. A lot of mixed views on whether channels like private messaging apps should be counted (hard to get metrics) but also a lot of overlap on the tags we need to lose (new, social, digital) it's all 'marketing' or 'it's all media'. 

In this episode of PR Leads, Dionne and Trevor Young aka 'The PR Warrior' delve into this broad topic; their chat includes the future of Twitter, 'dark social channels and the issue of privacy, and the growth of one-way broadcast of marketing messages on the main social platforms.

They also touch on the human limitation of time and capacity to consume the torrent of digital content they're confronted with on a daily basis, and how this is influencing their behaviour on social channels.

Rita Zonius is the Head of Internal Digital Communications at ANZ Bank.

Rita chats with Dionne Lew and Trevor Young about her role at ANZ and how the bank is increasingly using digital and social media for its communications, with a skew to what's happening internally.

The conversation also touches on ANZ's Notable Women program and Blue Notes, a publication of ANZ's newsroom, featuring insights, opinion, research and news about the economy, financial services and investment.
It's critical PR leaders keep themselves up to date with what's happening in the worlds of media, marketing and communications. That's easier said than done as these areas that are changing at alarming rates.

In part one of this episode of PR Leads, Dionne Lew and Trevor Young discuss why it's important PR professionals read widely in order to gain ideas and insights from a broad spectrum of information sources.

Being able to think strategically is critical for PR leaders today, to be able to 'join the dots' of a challenge or issue, cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter creatively, aided by insight.

In part two of the podcast, Dionne and Trevor discuss the books, blogs and podcasts they regularly read or listen to, including: 
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto (Book)
  • Krista Tippett's On Being podcast
  • New Rules of Marketing & PR and Web Ink Now blog by David Meerman Scott 
  • Scott Monty's The Full Monty newsletter
  • Brand Newsroom podcast hosted by James Lush, Sarah Mitchell and Nic Hayes
  • Brand Storytelling with Rakhal Ebeli
  • Jay Baer's Convince and Convert blog (including Social Pros podcasts)
  • Inside PR and For Immediate Release (on the FIR Podcast Network)
  • Ian Cleary's Razor Social blog
  • Social Media Examiner blog
  • Optimize by Lee Odden (book)
  • Seth Godin (books and blogs)
Publishing compelling content is a powerful way for any company or organisation to build public recognition for their brand, product, service or issue.

In an era where the public’s trust in business, government and media remains at worrying low levels, forward-thinking marketing and PR teams are turning to content as a means to not only differentiate their brand in the marketplace, but also better engage customers and stakeholders.

Now, you could say content creation has always figured highly in the PR professional's remit, and you'd be right. But today, we have the tools and the technology to tell our own stories and build our own audiences, versus simply relying on third-party media outlets.

While the ease of use and availability of online publishing platforms creates massive opportunities for brands and their comms teams, equally it presents challenges as well.
  • What sort of content should we be creating?
  • How much content should we be publishing?
  • What should we be creating content about?
  • How should we distribute our content?
  • What about social media? And where does media and influencer relations fit into the content equation?
In this broad-ranging discussion, Trevor Young and Dionne Lew focus on how PR can use content to build visibility, influence, reputation and trust for the brand they represent.

They chat about utility-based content versus thought leadership content, and why 'owned media' content is critical today when it comes to media relations.

Brands mentioned in this episode include Umpqua Bank, ANZ Bank, tech startup Buffer, paint manufacturer Farrow & Ball, Melbourne-based Mailguard and online wallet retailer, Bellroy.


Influencer marketing, influencer engagement, influencer relations - call it what you will but the whole notion of companies tapping into the power of influencers to build visibility and credibility for their brand has been around forever, but in recent times it has taken on a whole new meaning.

Why is this the case? 

Why is influencer marketing suddenly hot property, and what do PR and communications practitioners need to be aware of when it comes to engaging influencers on behalf of their brand. 

These are just some of the questions Dionne Lew and Trevor Young tackle in this episode of PR Leads.

They discuss: 
  • what constitutes influence, 
  • the difference between celebrity marketing and influencer marketing, 
  • why some 'influencers' might not actually be influential at all; 
  • the various tools and services brands are using to identify suitable influencers, and 
  • the difference between influencer 'relations' and influencer 'marketing'.
People, brands and products mentioned in this episode include Bupa, Tribe app, The Remarkables, Traackr, Little Bird, Michael Jordan, Timothy Hughes, Margaret Thatcher and George Negus. 

What will the PR department of a major corporate look like in the future? 

What skill-sets are needed, and are they being taught currently? 

Should PR departments outsource emerging specialist skills or develop them internally, or both? 

In this episode of PR Leads, Dionne Lew and Trevor Young get tactical, discussing the types of skills that will be demanded of the profession in coming years (if they're not already).

While we have plenty of new and exciting technologies emerging all the time, being able to write effectively remains a critical skill, as is the ability to develop (and tell) a good story. However, it could be argued that today, being able to tell a story across multiple mediums is also important and will become an ever-increasing in-demand skill of the future.

Other skills communications will need to understand (but not necessarily have deep production knowledge of - this can be outsourced if need be) include video live-streaming, production of micro-content for social media, development of owned media channels, how to identify and build relationships with independent content creators and micro-influencers (over and above traditional media), storytelling via video or audio, and understanding the elements that make up an effective online newsroom.

Both Dionne and Trevor agree that great opportunities exist for PR pros to provide journalists with supporting content that will make their stories stand out from the pack, as well as being able to produce their own content and communicate directly with key target audience communities.

While skills can be learnt, according to Trevor and Dionne, ultimately the effective PR department of the future will be driven by passionate and curious professionals who have the the right mindset required to build the culture and team that can adapt to today's noisy, always-on, digital-first world.


Dionne Lew and Trevor Young discuss why organisational leaders and their PR advisers need to be fully involved personally on social media.

They tell the story of one high profile company that is not very social at board level, while on the flipside share several examples of corporate leaders who do inherently understand the power of social media and have demonstrated in the past how best to use blogging and social channels in times of crisis.

And in what might become a regular segment, Dionne lets fly with some statistics around social media that underscore the importance for social leadership at major organisations.
In this inaugural episode, Trevor Young and Dionne Lew introduce PR Leads, discussing the various themes, topics and issues they will be covering over the course of the podcast series. 

A lot has changed in the media landscape, but how does that impact people in the PR and communications profession? What sort of challenges and issues are PR professionals facing in their day-to-day work, and what are the sorts of skills they need to start developing to ensure they stay in-tune with the requirements of today's ever-evolving marketplace? 

But let's not 'throw out the baby with the bathwater' - what so-called traditional strategies and tactics used by PR practitioners are still relevant and effective today? 

Trevor and Dionne hammer home the importance of mindset, and why it's imperative senior PR leaders adopt an open and curious attitude when it comes to social media and content-driven digital PR execution.

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