Following the 2008 global financial crisis, the symbolic start of which was marked by the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers,deemed one the “too big to fail” banks, companies were forced to cut spendingand to change their strategies from expansion to survival. The slaughter often fellupon PR and marketing divisions, the examples of which may have been found in suchgiants as Nike, General Motors or FedEx.
That was the time when everyone started to talk mainlyabout sale, lead generation, changing the customer decision process, building customerjourneys or minimising the risk of communication expenditure.
Though apparently optimisation of marketing and PR spendingcould prove beneficial to the companies, in practice it often led to short-termperception of image building. And this is a much wider concept than a brand,which when faced with contemporary challenges, is simply not sufficient.
Though the Internet undoubtedly offered a widespreadaccess to information, paradoxically, one may hardly admit the society isbetter informed. This is a consequence of several phenomena, among which onemay mention the flourishing of social media, the crisis in the sector oftraditional media and living in filter bubbles.
In the simplest terms, post-truth is a phenomenonwhere emotions and opinions matter more than facts when it comes to shapingattitudes and choices. Though this term is usually associated with politics, theconcept of post-truth is also a challenge for business. Though customers havebeen susceptible to acting on emotions before, the culture of post-truth mayturn even the smallest detail into a reputational crisis. This is why, smartimage management and fact-based opinion-building now make the most effectivedefence against the dying of culture of discussion and exchange of rationalarguments.
The battle for users’ attention and emotions iscarried out mainly on the Internet and content is the main tool. Now 42 percent of companies admit that they hire a specialist supervising the contentstrategy. Today, a single issue ofa daily newspaper contains more information than several hundred years ago someof our ancestors learned during their lifetime. We are now seeing the userattention being blocked and this is why it is important to provide our targetgroup with the right message (content), at the right place.
Therefore, the key challenge is to producehigh-quality content so it can get through or be found by our target. Thus, ifa company is able to put itself is traditional media’s shoes and compete withquality, not quantity of the delivered information, it is offered a historicopportunity to reach a genuinely wide group of users.
Reaching a wide group of recipients may be aneffective tool for fighting threats posed by the new market reality. The dataof the Polish Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy show that this Julythe unemployment rate in Poland was 5.9 per cent. Not only programmers andengineers may be picky when looking for a job, but blue-collar workers or even officespecialists have found themselves in a similar situation.
They are being fought for by both small familybusinesses and by international corporations. Therefore, salary is not thedetermining factor when choosing a specific employer – what is appreciated isalso values represented by the company. It is PR and image-creation that acompany may use to reach potential employees and present them with informationon why the company is unique and consequently, why it is the best choice in thelabour market.
Entrepreneurs may still be missing the fact that theera of post-truth is already affecting their businesses and HR divisions may bethe first to fall victim to this phenomenon. Communication strategies are again coming back to play, not only to handle risk management or a potential reputational crisis. In the era of users’ shrinking attention, the propercontent and messages are becoming even more important now than, say, 10 yearsago. Now, an experienced PR specialist is a business advisor, marketer, journalist, risk manager and media planner in one. This is the reason why finding the right forces to build your image is no longer a luxury but anecessity.