Opinion: Four ways to get your PR workforce up to scratch on digital

The convergence of technology and digital has become a significant force within all forms of stakeholder engagement. The failure to deploy technology and digital comms can be seen as “comms suicide” in this day and age, says Andrew Laxton, Racepoint Global‘s EVP and MD (Europe and Asia). Off the back of a recent paper from the agency, The Language of Digital, he suggests four key ways to create a new generation of “hybrid PRs”.


Andrew Laxton

We now live and work in a rapidly changing digital world where new social channels and customer experiences have an immediate impact on audience behaviour compared with ‘traditional’ earned media campaigns.

As we learn how to position and communicate across these newer channels, the search for talent within the PR profession has also taken a new direction.  The demand for digital marketers who understand the content requirements for – and the management demands of – microsites, apps, mobile and cloud projects is now at an all-time high.

The industry has been talking idly about the need for hybrid marketing professionals for some time now with many agencies still choosing to work in traditional and digital silos. This means client servicing teams responsible for planning and mapping campaigns neither know how to truly integrate all components for the benefit of the brands they represent nor do they provide the transparency needed for the technical and digital project detail.

So how do we up-skill our workforce to create a new generation of hybrid PRs who speak the language of digital? I can suggest four key ways to do this:

1. Work with your HR Department(s) to develop structured L&D programmes that teach the fundamental building blocks of digital engagement such as wireframe architecture, SEO and WordPress. A basic understanding of software development, coding and digital tools will set tomorrow’s marketer apart from their peers.

2. Study the behavioural patterns of conventional and non-conventional influencers, their psychology, how they consume information and the impact they have on your client’s audience.

3. Broaden your approach to creative ideation and re-purpose engaging content to map with your influencers on the channels they engage verbally, visually and emotionally.

4. Never stop learning. Increase your own brand value and the value you provide your clients by understanding the fundamentals of managing digital projects, graphics design, video production and editing, web design, SEO and SEM.

Racepoint Global’s InMedia report, The Language of Digital, explores the changing role of marketers in the digital landscape. As modern business is increasingly driven by technology, it looks at the need for skills in the workspace to change and grow as well.

  • Laxton has more than two decades’ experience in PR across the Asia Pacific Region. He has held several management positions with international agencies providing senior advisory services to a range Fortune 500 and multinational clients.
  • He specialises in brand positioning, reputation management, stakeholder engagement, media profiling and content creation, and leads strategic comms initiatives for clients in the corporate, healthcare, consumer and corporate sectors.
  • Laxton was previously GM and Director (Asia Pacific) for MS&L. He began his career as a journalist and has held senior editorial positions with the South China Morning Post and as the Asia correspondent with the Mail on Sunday.
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