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From press releases to boardrooms: The rise of PRs as business strategists

PR has long been viewed as the go-to field for media management, crafting narratives, and protecting corporate reputation. But as the business landscape evolves, PR professionals are finding themselves donning new hats - those of business consultants. The line separating traditional PR work from business consultancy has started to blur. Here's a deep dive into this evolution.

Holistic strategy development plays a significant role in today's PR landscape. PR professionals have long been the stewards of a company's external narratives. However, their role has expanded to become integral in shaping a company's overarching business strategy. Equipped with a deep understanding of market trends, nuanced public perceptions, and the intricate demands of stakeholders, PR professionals are spearheading initiatives that guide businesses in both their strategy development and tactical decision-making.

Digital explosion

With the digital age ushering in an era of data-driven Insights, PR's role has expanded further. The rise of big data and analytics tools has provided PR professionals with a goldmine of information. No longer limited to monitoring media impressions, these professionals delve into consumer behaviour, make informed predictions about market movements, and sift through data to derive actionable insights. Their recommendations, backed by this data, have the potential to significantly influence a company's bottom line.

Stakeholder concerns

Furthermore, stakeholder management has emerged as a key component of PR's evolved role. As the media landscape diversifies and stakeholder ecosystems become more complex, PR professionals are reaching beyond traditional media. They're engaging with a diverse group that includes investors, industry thought leaders, policymakers, and the broader public. By cultivating and managing these relationships, PR professionals provide businesses with invaluable insights into stakeholder expectations and offer strategies to effectively navigate these multifaceted environments.

The interconnected world we live in today also presents its own set of challenges. Crisis

management and business continuity have become paramount, and PR professionals are at the forefront. They not only communicate during crises but play a pivotal role in advising businesses on continuity plans and devising strategies to mitigate potential risks.

Research and development

As PR integrates more closely with overarching business goals, understanding business

models becomes crucial. Today's PR professional collaborates closely with various departments, from finance to R&D. They ensure that the messaging, strategy, and company's objectives are seamlessly intertwined.

The growing demand for training and workshops also signifies the increasing value businesses see in PR's expertise. Many PR agencies and professionals now offer workshops that cover a broad spectrum of topics, reinforcing their position as comprehensive business advisors.

Ethical counselling

Another crucial facet of modern PR is ethical counselling. PR professionals, given their unique perspective at the confluence of business operations, media trends, and societal sentiments, offer guidance on the ethical implications of business decisions. They ensure businesses make choices that resonate with societal norms and values.

Future proofing

Lastly, in an era marked by rapid change, PR professionals are champions of innovation and disruption. Armed with insights into changing media consumption habits, shifts in cultural narratives, and the evolving competitive landscape, they advise businesses on how to stay ahead of the curve. By identifying looming opportunities and potential threats, they guide businesses towards paths of innovation, ensuring their growth is not just immediate but sustainable.

The transformation of PR from mere media managers to multifaceted business strategists reflects the dynamic nature of today's business environment. As they continue to adapt and evolve, PR professionals are set to become even more central in shaping the future of businesses.

Written by Jules Herd, managing director at communications consultancy Five in a Boat

Further reading

Heather Yaxley examines the evolution of corporate communications

Scott Addison discusses a CIPR study which shows PR’s lack of progress in getting into the boardroom

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