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Evolving Voices: TFD attends the PRCA Summit

PRCA International Summit 2023
Author: Joshua Booth

Evolving Voices: TFD attends the PRCA Summit

Nancy and I recently attended the PRCA International Summit 2023 for TFD. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the latest developments in the industry. Informed by the thought-provoking stories and statistics we heard, we wanted to share some thoughts about how communications is currently evolving in a disrupted climate with changing audiences.

A Shifting Audience

Believe it or not, news avoidance has doubled over the last decade, with 4 in 10 people actively avoiding the news. Print media continues its decline, with only 23% of people using it as a news source. In terms of demographic split, this comes to 28% of over 55’s digesting news in print form, but only 18% of 18-24-year-olds doing the same.

In general, trust is falling. It’s estimated that 1% of all content on the web has now been synthetically generated, and this number is only set to increase. According to research from the Reuters Institute and the University of Oxford, only 42% of adults currently trust the news most of the time. Moreover, the average attention span remains at 8 seconds, compared to the past average of 12 seconds.

Changing Our Tune

So, what does this mean for communications? A changing audience provides opportunities for PR to innovate. Instead of mainstream media, 57% of people now use social media as a primary source of news. While this can exacerbate the issues of misled information, it also means that PR can retune its voice to better reach the ears of this shifting audience.

The current statistics denote a preference for shorter, more attention-grabbing media content, particularly if this content is promoted in an engaging way through social media or through accessible outlets.

For a younger audience, communications can prioritise digital and social media as opposed to print coverage. To counteract the lack of trust in the news, PR should make use of key statistics and factual information where applicable, and, for combating news avoidance, professionals should focus on creating intrigue within headlines.

Now, with the rise of generative AI, there is an exponential growth of content, creating an increase in the ratio of speed vs truth. This means that misinformation is not only greater in volume but can spread far more rapidly. For PR professionals, communications must be fine-tuned for authenticity and individuality to cut through the noise.

The Three Os

Output, out-takes and outcomes are three useful ‘Os’ to frame PR and the value it brings to businesses in our current climate. It’s important for PR to not just create these outputs, out-takes and outcomes, but also show these to the C-suite and break down the language barriers within and between organisations.

With the current proliferation of content, it’s more important than ever for PR to bring clarity to both external and internal communications. For PR businesses, teams and cultures themselves, diversity and inclusion must be actively encouraged – it’s not enough to just be passive.

New Stories

Overall, we loved how much we learnt at the PRCA Summit. One inspiring story at the summit was shared by WARTO, a communications agency in Ukraine, who told us about how they survived and achieved PR success despite the reality of war around them.

In the hardest of conditions, they were still driven to achieve success for their communications, which helped people by promoting an app that raised awareness of the risks of mines and unexploded weapons. Above all, the PRCA Summit taught us more about how, through authenticity and functionality, PR can not only survive but thrive in an increasingly disrupted landscape.

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