By: Nurlaela Arief, Director of Communication and Alumni Relations of SBM ITB
JAKARTA, PRINDONESIA.CO – The 2018 World Public Relations Forum (WPRF) was held on April 22-24 in Oslo, Norway. Four representatives from PERHUMAS as the largest public relations organization in Indonesia, as well as a member of the Global Alliance, also attended the forum. The PERHUMAS representative also met Todung Mulya Lubis, the Indonesian Ambassador for Norwegia, at the Indonesian Embassy in Oslo.
If we look back at the history of the event, initially WPRF was held in Rome (2001), London (2008), Stockholm (2010), Melbourne (2012), Madrid (2014), Toronto (2016), then Oslo became the city chosen in 2018 with by the organizer, the Global Alliance for PR and Communication Management in collaboration with the Norwegian PR Communication Association (NCA) organization.
The three main topics that were discussed, namely "Truth, Profit & Intelligence" received special attention and became a reflection for PR practitioners, academics, and PR agencies from various countries. The three big topics were revealed into several sub-topics presented by various world experts. I will share some sub-topics that are quite crucial.
Truth, Profit, Intelligence
It is interesting to examine what issues are being faced in each participant's country during the networking session. If in Indonesia we are attacked with hoaxes, as well as in South Africa, Brazil, India, and Argentina. When we are familiar with hoaxes, PR practitioners from Europe, America, and other developed countries, use another phrase that is false news or fake information. Truth was much discussed about its various theories and practices, such as truth, post-truth, and other facts in facing the onslaught of false news, especially in the practice of political communication.
Meanwhile, the Profit topic was delivered by Prof. Mervyn King from South Africa. He explained how to change from the profit paradigm to value creation. In this context, companies are encouraged not merely to target profits, but rather to create many policies with a business model and output profit, people, and planet approach with dimensions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Values like these are more attractive to investors in the long run. This includes how companies will shift to focus more on sustainability issues. In it related to integrated reporting, the preparation of sustainability reports based on global reporting initiatives is part of a strategy focused on CSR communication for a long-term reputation.
Meanwhile, in the discussion of Intelligence, the discussion was about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Sarab Kochhar, PR Research Director said during the presentation that he was burdened to bring and prepare the material. Humorously, the Indian man said: "Fortunately, I'm smart enough to talk about AI."
In essence, I caught the message of how AI tools after digital civilization and Big Data, in the future, will be able to create acceleration in every aspect of the organization. Any sector, any level of position, will inevitably come into contact with AI. For PR practitioners, AI is able to increase work productivity and various routine PR tasks such as PR writing competence, analyzing sentiments in the media, as well as measuring tools for the effectiveness of digital PR.
Some experts, professors from various universities, practitioners, and PR agencies turned out to have compiled a panel, how the impact of AI on the PR profession. Shared by Alastair, McCapra, CEO of the British CIPR. Here are some conclusions from his research.
First, the role of PR at the basic or entry-level level will probably be the first to completely disappear and replaced with AI. This is a challenge and will cause big problems for fresh graduates who have just joined the PR industry. Second, PR professionals need to find new ways to provide value to their clients or stakeholders, by utilizing new platforms and tools and developing value chains. Third, the basic skills of PR are considered the most related and the first to be automated. Whereas more general capabilities and attributes that provide quality and integrity will be more difficult to automate with AI.
What is encouraging is that it is not true that managerial or creative work will be threatened by AI. In fact, AI can support and facilitate PR practitioners with several functions and automated PR work. Some rigid tasks can be done with the help of AI. For example, in a dashboard press release and spread on media groups, or the media can pull releases from the dashboard that we prepared. This is one of the great impacts of AI technology for PR practitioners.
Future PR, Relationship and Content
Daniel Tiesch in his material entitled "The Elevation of PR in the Age of Fake News, 7 Mega Trends News & PR" made many participants stunned. I also pay more attention when Daniel spoke, regardless of his intelligence and good-looking aura, also because of his easy-to-understand manner and very interesting topic.
He stated, " Why does PR need to own content in marketing? Why does content marketing mean for the PR Industry? PR must form to be more organization listening." We all are required to listen more and talk less. When we listen a lot, a relationship of trust will be created, the risk will be smaller, while the opportunity will be even greater. Collaboration is very important and PR people must have the capability to take charge of various roles and functions both internal and external relations.
Related to big data and artificial intelligence, public relations can take a greater role with useful information and support decision making. With abundant data, we should be more powerful and have stronger insights.
Meanwhile, the results of the research from the 2017 Global Communication Report, which says how the views of marketing that become like PR, 61 percent of marketing professionals believe that PR will be closer and align with marketing. While public relations practitioners view that public relations will get closer and align with marketing by as much as 45 percent.
PR is the New Marketing, but Marketing Should not Lead PR
Regardless of agree or disagree, in the last few months I also felt how close and align between PR activities with Marketing. Today, the challenges of the industry are getting tougher, corporations must be more agile, more efficient, bring in more profits, and create content on social media. For example, which was originally dedicated to education, outreach, building reputation, little by little must be balanced this with promotional content for company products and services. Like it or not, this is the reality.
Companies certainly still need PR, because the basis of PR is communication, and communication builds empathy, understanding, respect, and trust. Professional ethics and standards are also important amid the onslaught of hoax, fake news, and false information. How to anticipate, balance false information, the answer is PR that has professional ethics! In the future, PR will be more strategic, more analytical, and less technical.