Technology impacts every area of our lives, especially in communication. Naturally, this also affects public relations – primarily because agents must change how they relate to the public, based on how the public relates to each other, and the media. With this in mind, here are four ways that technology affects the way companies do PR – for better or worse.

Digital Trumps Hard Copy

Hard copies of anything in communication and entertainment rapidly become more obsolete in today’s market. People download video games offline and buy the serial number, or watch movies on Netflix rather than purchase DVDs. Many readers turn to tablets and eReaders to get their fix. And who really buys a newspaper anymore when there’s news on our smartphones for free?

As a result, it’s become necessary for companies to learn to excel in digital spaces through well-placed ads, producing high-quality content, and learning to be social online.

Easier to Obtain Market Information

Most companies and websites claim not to snoop in our private caches, but they do. Ever wonder why the laptop you looked at briefly on Amazon keeps popping up as an ad when you visit Facebook or other favorite websites? Websites plant and track cookies, and through your interests on other sites, can display more purchase options for you to consider.

This annoys many consumers, but ultimately, we have all at one point clicked on the eBay ad when we saw a better price than we originally found lurking on the right side of our screen. Because of technology, companies gain greater insights into what consumers want, when they want it, the options they prefer, and how to provide the best solution.

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Growing Importance of Social Media

It doesn’t matter what platforms come and go – whether it’s the death of MySpace or the birth of Twitter – social media itself is here to stay well into the future. Perhaps, forever. Due to advancements in communication technologies, people no longer need to be together to communicate, and the opportunity to communicate to a wider audience than friends is often tempting.

For this reason, companies increasingly turn to social media to reach customers, build their brand, and grow their presence. Customers can socialize with real people behind the company in an effortless and convenient way, and companies get the opportunity to resolve issues quickly before they spiral out of control.

24/7 News Cycle

The growing importance of social media provides an engine for the 24/7 news cycle, which can be good or bad, depending on the news. Should a company slip up, the whole world will know and tweet about it before the company gets a chance to come up with a strategic response? Likewise, good news also spreads like wildfire, though is often not as sensational as bad press.

Knowing this, many firms share a love-hate relationship with media companies and the wonders of social media. It also compels businesses to manage their brand and monitor their online reputation.

Like any other field in the current world market, technology greatly affects how companies and agents carry out their PR work. Technology forces companies to adapt to dynamic changes in the market, and to learn to put the customers first when making key decisions, or risk seeing their reputation torn apart online.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.