20 Takeaways from PR is Key 2017

Topics like real-time content, live monitoring, employee advocacy, a PR ‘train wreck’ and the launch of a state-of-the-art VR newsroom: the second edition of PR is Key had some noteworthy highlights!

A beautiful venue at B. Amsterdam set the stage for our annual event, which this year was centered around the topic of real-time PR. Four speakers tackled the subject from different angles in front of a room full of enthusiastic attendees. We'll be publishing more extensive recaps of all talks in the coming weeks, but for now here is a preview with the major talking points and takeaways.

  1. Rob Brown and the visual language

The opening speaker Rob Brown is managing partner at Rule 5, Vice President of the CIPR and the 4th most respected individual working the the PR in the UK (2011). Rob kicked off the event with a interesting talk about the role of visual communications in real-time PR. The author of the best-seller Public Relations and the Social Web llustrated how massive this role is by reminding us that 'Face with tears of joy' was named the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year in 2015. Rob Brown went on to say that:

  • There are six major trends in PR, which have to do with data, analytics, real world evaluation, ethical practice, strategic counsel and visual communication.

  • Visual communication is the #1 trend. Emoji for example represent feelings, emotions and answers, and have formed a language of their own, which is globally understood.

  • The concept of 'newsworthy' is becoming data-driven: predictions of success now heavily weigh in on the decision to produce a video.

  • The classic hierarchy of TV – radio – newspaper hasn't really changed, only now we're calling it video – audio – text.

  • Live, visually driven reporting of events can dominate social and conventional media, as Robs company Rule 5 showed with their coverage of the 2016 Track Cycling World Championships.

2. Thinking before speaking with Alexander de Ruiter

Alexander is co-founder of OBI4wan, a provider of a user-friendly tool for online and offline media monitoring, web care, data analysis, social analytics and content publishing. Alexander finds that data is often just sent around the office, failing to lead to any actionable insights. The reputation management expert had some useful insights of his own:

  • There's no such thing as an online or an offline reputation. Organizations have one single reputation, which hinges on the integration of online and offline management.

  • Unless your crisis looks anything like that of United Airlines, you can safely assume a social media storm will blow over in a couple of days.

  • Monitoring and analyzing shouldn't come after publishing, but before. There are enough data online to use to determine which stories are worth producing.

  • Research showed that engagement on social media was much higher when messages were posted by employees instead of the corporate account.

  • You shouldn't only respond to negative comments on social media. If you ignore the positive messages, people will eventually stop posting them.

3. Sébastien Willems on creating an agile PR environment

PressPage’s co-founder and CEO took the stage to talk about the importance of effective systems and workflows as a solid foundation for real-time strategy. Seb started off with a recap of the ‘train wreck’ that the United Airlines debacle was. His main conclusion: UA's statements were hasty and imprudent and lacked self-criticism. This all served as an introduction to the following:

  • The pressure to respond quickly in a crisis is great, but there's no reason to prematurely draw conclusions. A holding statement asking for more time while you investigate is fine.

  • PR people need to look for potential risks and notify management so crises can be avoided instead of managed.

  • Communication between departments needs to improve: PR shouldn't only be top-of-mind when disaster has already struck.

  • Apps and tools for PR purposes are only just starting to flourish; another reason why the PR department is often not on management's radar.

  • Organizations spend too little time working on APIs. Every department should have an API, connecting processes to systems and enabling an agile work environment.

Sébastien also had a surprise, ‘my Oprah moment’ as he called it: Google Cardboards for everyone, to visit a working prototype of a brand-new virtual reality KLM newsroom, which event partner VR-House developed especially for PR is Key. For those who have a cardboard at home, visit on your mobile and look at the newsroom in VR. You can also view the newsroom on your mobile or desktop without a cardboard.

4. Putting the personal in PR with Jochem Koole

Last to speak was independent social business strategist Jochem Koole, who had no problem holding everyone's attention with his engaging story on how to successfully involve employees and management in corporate communications and PR efforts. Jochem had this to say:

  • People are increasingly less willing to pay for content, so it's better to share it for free and make a name for yourself as an expert.

  • Employees are now trusted more than CEOs, so allow them to present themselves online so they can build relationships with your target audience.

  • Relationships don’t exist between organizations, but between the people working at those organizations. They have a minimum of seven contact moments before coming to an agreement; moments in which employees can make a positive contribution to the proceedings.

  • Employee advocacy tools form a slippery slope. Jochem expects Facebook to (further) neutralize these tools by limiting the organic reach of messages.

  • Forget about the "army of content soldiers" and focus on the 1 percent of employees who really want to act as ambassador for your organization.

Be sure to look out for our more detailed reports in the coming weeks! But for now you can download the slides of all presentations of PR is Key 2017.