Modern marketing and PR increasingly seems to work on overdrive. Gone are the days when campaigns could be comfortably planned with lead times measured in months. The speed with which digital marketing and other disciplines can show results means that, increasingly, clients expect proposals that can be actioned in the morning for a measurable outcome in the afternoon (okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but the point is sound and is increasingly nearer to the truth).
Added to this difficulty is the sometimes-bewildering speed at which the industry landscape is shifting. New techniques and ideas appear with dizzying frequency. Old paradigms are casually rejected in favor of the latest trendy craze, or the angle which generates the most buzz in industry forums and blogs. New technologies appear, offering tantalizing possibilities for both PR and marketing in general, often disappearing or being superseded as fast as they arrived.
All of this means that even the most committed marketing professional can find it a struggle to stay on top of developments, even with a generous time allocation for research and self-education. Unfortunately, this time is growing ever more limited across the industry as the expectation of rapid results becomes heavier and heavier.
Even though having a thorough understanding of the latest intelligence is vital for providing a comprehensive, professional service for your clients (not to mention building a competitive advantage over your peers), it can have detrimental effects if it leads to the here and now being overlooked. How can you stay current, never mind ahead, without neglecting today’s responsibilities, when PR and marketing campaigns are expected to be conducted over ever-shortening time frames?
The answer is to focus on trends rather than flavour-of-the-month techniques and fads. By all means, monitor the evolution of the marketing industry, but bear in mind that the basics will always remain sound, while often only the details of implementation may vary to take into account the constant pivoting of the industry. What appears to be a revolutionary new approach will often be a reinterpretation of existing ideas, however, interesting and innovative it may appear to be on the surface.
Attempting to stay on the bleeding, cutting edge can all too easily result in a less-than-optimal utilization of proven and tested techniques which could bring about the fast, dependable results that clients are demanding. If a new idea is worth its salt, it will last beyond the month or two of buzz which often surrounds new thinking, only for today’s view of the future to quickly become lost in the past. Interpreting the direction of travel requires a cool eye and a steady hand, in order to spot what’s genuinely new and exciting, and what’s merely the latest twist on an existing tale which serves little purpose other than to provide would-be industry leaders with something new to extol.
Marketing and PR is a time-honoured profession with a solid weight of cumulative knowledge to draw on. Applying this to the full benefit of your clients will build the best foundation for applying genuinely new innovations as they gain ground, as well as providing the rapid results that modern business has come to rely on from professionals in the field. Remember, the future just keeps on coming, while the present quickly slips away if it’s not grasped with both hands.
Tim Aldiss writes for Four Broadgate, a financial services and higher education public relations (PR) agency.