PR consultant’s top five wish list for 2024

I keep wishing and hoping that some things will change for the Malaysian Public Relations (PR) industry to help us, as an industry and a country, develop and mature.

Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho de Souza was quoted as saying, “When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it”.

So, I’m sending my wish list of things I’d like to see in 2024 (and beyond) out into the universe in the hope that it’s listening.

Fake news benefits no one – Please be responsible

First and foremost, I’d like to see an end to fake news. Some may think that passing on false information is harmless; some may even think it’s funny; but on the contrary, it has serious and costly repercussions.

The PR and advertising efforts that go into correcting fake news results in increased cost of doing business for companies. Mopping up fake news is a waste of time and resources, and this cost is ultimately passed on to the consumer.

So, to the general public, I beg you to be responsible. Please verify rumours and sensational news before sharing. Fact-check and verify through official websites, social media, or mainstream media, before sharing.

Also, more often than not, there’s a prankster or sour grapes competitor with malicious motives behind fake news, so don’t be a party to their underhanded tricks.

Understanding the new media scene

There’s been an increase in requests for guaranteed media attendance, guaranteed media coverage, and PR value targets. Let me be clear; anyone who wants guarantees, will have to invest in branded content, i.e., paid media.

I once received a request for 100 media attendance at a soft launch and press conference, with a requirement for radio and TV interviews. The spokesperson was someone I had never even heard of! Couldn’t help but wonder which alternate universe this person’s PR team was living in.

Use of influencers

The use of influencers falls under the paid media category; and A-listers don’t come cheap. So those who wish to park influencers under the PR budget need a sizeable bump in their PR budget. I would instead suggest parking influencers under the advertising budget because that’s what it really is.

Know the difference in terminology and scope of work

There is a difference between earned media, paid media, media monitoring, event management, and brand management.

A few months ago, we received a PR brief for a property launch. While it was called a PR brief, it also included requirements for branding the development (a service which doesn’t fall under the PR scope). In addition, there was a substantial event management component.

During the proposal presentation, the client was more interested in who the entertainment act would be and the size of the canopy and air-conditioners, than the PR messaging.

That was in May 2023, and we were informed that the launch was scheduled for the following month. To this day, the development hasn’t been launched.

They really had no idea what they were doing.

PR consultancies are also still receiving requests for media monitoring services. Most people who are clued in are aware that media monitoring is a highly specialised service, separate from PR, and that PR has been outsourcing the media monitoring function to these specialists for many years.

Government requirements

From chats with industry colleagues, I can say that we’d all like to see an end to the requirement for Finance Ministry registration for government projects.

From personal experience, I can tell you that the ministry’s registration system is not user friendly. It’s designed to frustrate users and defeat you into submission to engage the added cost of engaging a consultant. Again, needlessly increasing the cost of doing business.

I could go on, but I’ll just stop at these top five. Here’s hoping the universe, and clients, are listening.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.

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