We can probably agree that public relations tactics have changed pretty dramatically over the last several years, responding to sea changes in information consumption, the role of professional media and the continuing impact of social networks. Personally, I think one of the most useful ways to get our heads around what all this means to public relations is to envision a communications in the form of streams.
Tom Stein, the president and chief creative officer of Stein+Partners Brand Activation, an interactive digital agency, offered a good definition on the webinar he and I co-hosted last week. Brand streaming, according to Tom, represents an agile approach to communications, shifting from episodic, campaign-based planning to an adaptive, always-on presence, and has the following attributes:
- Content flowing from brand to constituent has become a real-time, always-on stream: and that content flows across channels to media influencers, social influencers, consumers, policy makers and decision makers
- Content is streaming right back to the brand from the audience – full of insight and opportunity
- Brands have the ability to effectively and proactively manage this brand stream with the ability to lead conversations, ensure brand coherence, protect reputation and drive results
One key aspect that’s at the heart of brand streaming is the opportunity for owned media published by a brand – press releases, white papers, articles, case studies, fact sheets, photos, infographics, etc. – to evolve into earned media, through social interactions.
This phenomenon, Tom pointed out, carries with it another important factor communicators must consider – the entirely new patterns of influence that are emerging. A well-connected Facebook fan can be a powerful amplifier of your messages, for example. As a result, public relations professionals are being forced to rethink old paradigms, embrace new opportunities that demand entirely new ways of thinking – and to act and react in real time.
And this brings us back to the brand stream. The always-on, realtime opportunities and connections demand a continual presence – and communications – from brands. It’s an entirely different role, and an entirely different mindset.
Tomorrow we’ll delve into developing the content that forms the basis of a brand stream.
Related reading: Taking a content-centric approach to building relationships