By Kabira Barlow
Last Friday, American University communications professor Gemma Puglisi, hosted an event with several communication professionals to discuss the ever changing field. I attended one of the panels that discussed messaging, strategies and audiences, panelists included Sergei A. Samiolenko an instructor from George Mason University, Arhur Swift an American University lecturer and Managing Editor and Chief of Content at Gallup. Closing out the panel was Shonali Burke, President/CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc.
The panel discussed the public’s recent distrust of the media. With “fake news” being such a large topic these days, the public is beginning to trust in the media less and less and PR professionals are caught in the middle. Public relations focuses heavily on media relations, but with trust of the media so low, public relations professionals have to find a different way to reach the public. One of these ways discussed in the panel was the concept of “social PR” and the importance of opinion leaders. Studies show that people trust information from friends and family, more than they do information from the media. PR professionals should take advantage of this by appealing to community leaders in order to promote their brand.
The panelist also stressed the importance of not only professional branding but also personal branding. In this era of social media and digital media, it is important to focus on also branding yourself and showcasing your skills. Burke’s suggested creating a private account for only friends and family and then a separate account to brand yourself to future employers. One thing is for certain the PR field is forever evolving and those in it must adapt to the changes.