Integrated Brand Communications in the Era of New Media

2013-09-06 00:12 1132

SHANGHAI, Sept. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Interview with Ivy Soonthornsima Co-President, China/Managing Director, Shanghai, Hill & Knowlton Strategies, on the challenges, latest innovation and trend for the PR industry. @ Public Relations and Communication 2013 (PRC)

Ivy Soonthornsima, Co-President, China/Managing Director, Shanghai, Hill & Knowlton Strategies
Ivy Soonthornsima, Co-President, China/Managing Director, Shanghai, Hill & Knowlton Strategies

Ivy is the Co-President of China spearheading some innovative development of the Firm in addition to her management and administrative role. Ivy brings more than 20 years of pan-Asia communication experience in both international and Chinese PR agencies. Specializing in communications strategy, brand building and crisis and issues management, Ivy combines her global exposure with local insights to serve a wide range of clients spanning FMCG, lifestyle/retail, beauty/healthcare, aviation/tourism, finance/banking, corporate, B2B, IT and consumer technology.

PRC: What do you think are the top burning challenges faced by PR professionals?

Ivy: I believe that the rapid changes in the communication landscape, mainly due to the direct and indirect impacts of new media, is the number one source of challenges and opportunities for PR professionals. How to keep ahead of the pack and offer clients the very latest while keeping it relevant to their business is always a challenge amidst a continually evolving environment.

PR professionals face the challenge to also effectively use digital platforms in conjunction with traditional PR practices, and this way of thinking and operating needs to be established throughout the entire communications' department in order for it to be truly effective. It requires a proactive approach and if not everybody is thinking in the same way it can be difficult to maintain.  

Finally, PR professionals need to adeptly handle crises in the social / digital media age. How do you prepare for an online crisis, and handle it if it does occur? These days the public has many 'speaking' platforms and everyone is very receptive to listening. It's difficult to control, but many opportunities can come from it.

PRC: What has your company done to overcome the challenges? What still needs to be done?

Ivy: H+K Strategies has introduced two new initiatives into China – Social PR Lab and Flight School. Social PR Lab is a new methodology that integrates traditional and digital PR practices into an all-encompassing methodology aimed at advising clients on how to fully maximize outreach and impact in both the on and offline spaces. It provides clients with the ability to easily understand, finesse and transmit their brand messages across channels in a way that is not bias to new technologies and at the same time, reaches out to its various stakeholders in a tailored and effective manner.

To help our clients better prepare for the new challenges or potential crises in the digital era, we have also launched Flight School to our clients. Flight School is a bespoke and comprehensive crisis simulation offering that combines crisis expertise, proprietary simulation technology and long-running experience at planning, organizing and orchestrating crisis drills. It is fully immersive as clients would be exposed to realistic simulations that would show participants what would be happening on various media platforms.

PRC: What are the latest innovations in PR and Communications strategies and practices?

Ivy: The three latest innovations in this space include solutions related to the integration of digital and traditional PR functions, for example, many agencies now have specialized in-house departments focusing on this integration.

There is also a growth in innovative digital editorial agencies, such as Group SJR. Rather than simply providing development services and relying on agencies for content, these agencies focus on digital content strategy and creation. They too, have the ability to develop and use digital platforms where necessary.

The amalgamation of the communication mix is another factor forcing innovation. Many campaigns are now utilizing multiple agencies from different disciplines (PR, advertising, branding) to undertake a single campaign as the lines between the various elements of the communication mix become more blurred.

Finally, there are also more interactive social media training tools such as, Flight School, being launched. They are unique to the market and have the ability to comprehensively train staff in a fully immersive environment on the various applications of social media.

PRC: How do you foresee PR and Communications industry in the future?

Ivy: Digital is the future.

Digital technologies will continue to become more involved in everyday life, especially with advances in smart technologies. Thus, digital communications will naturally become increasingly important. With this, and the emergence of Web 3.0, the ability to pinpoint exact audience segments is going to shape communications to be at a level where content can be tailored with precision to suit a niche audience segment with a specific message.

Further to this, the blurring of lines between communication mixes and traditional and digital communication agencies will continue and fuel a change in agency operations and specializations. 

Brands are also returning back to basics. In the recent past, brands have focused on leveraging as many platforms as possible to generate awareness. But now, given the maturity of the market and the dominance of a number of players in the social media space, brands will begin to shift its focus back to the brand, its story and communicating its value and propositions.

Brands will also begin focusing on consumer centric story-telling. Actual journalism rather than just content creation would be key. Brands now need to tell stories that reflect their brand values, and most importantly, they must find ways to engage their target audiences. In response to this shift, agencies will not only have to be expert content creators, but also expert story tellers.

Ivy will be with us as one of the keynote speakers @ Public Relations and Communication 2013 taking place on 12-13 Sep, 2013 in Shanghai.

For the first time ever, we will be live streaming the conference, so those of you who are unable to travel to attend will still have the opportunity to watch the presentations from your own desk.

Register now to watch the PR and Communication 2013 LIVE from your own home.

Source: UBM Conferences China