By JAMES KAHONGEH Over the last 10 years, nothing has been talked about quite as much as the effect of technology on businesses. Every day, a new technology is invented, thereby altering operations in any field, creating new possibilities and eroding others. More than ever before, digital disruption is now a reality. The future has never looked more uncertain. But is this phenomenon worth its hype? How are Kenyan businesses responding to digital disturbances? Are we getting things right? Who is wining? What are the losers doing wrong? What are the misconceptions surrounding digital revolution? How best can we prepare for the foggy future? This week, professionals from different fields who have been caught up in the waves of digital volatility answer these questions. How has technology disrupted practices in Public Relations?- LINDAH MBAISI, PR EXPERT Due to digital disruption, public relations has evolved in terms of communication, decision making and market analysis. Organisational strategies and work plans have also changed to accommodate the new wave of PR. Press releases are now being phased out as influencers take over communication for corporates and other brands.
PR practitioners can now build more solid relationships because they can do reviews online and post them for the public to see and share their views.It has also made it possible for people to share information faster through multiple sources, which in turn creates room for quick response. There are so many channels available, and PR professionals are no longer limited to mainstream media. Under this new dispensation, the CEO and PR manager are no longer the only people who speak on behalf of the company. Information is put out through several channels and in many formats. As a result, companies find themselves having to deal with a lot of rumours and inaccuracies. Through digital data, it is now easier for organisations to get the finer detail about their customers such as their preferences, tastes and habits. This way they can make more informed decisions for their clients. Has technology created more opportunities within the PR domain? There are now better ways of packaging content and making stories more appealing to audiences, and it is also possible to collect feedback instantaneously thus the stories can have a much bigger impact. Social media has created a whole new space from where information can be sourced. PR budgets have, as a result, been slashed tremendously as organisations seek to save up on costs. Does the direct interaction between customers and corporates translate into better services and products? Brand-client engagement through websites, e-mails or social media platforms helps businesses offer better customer service, and is a sure way of fostering trust and loyalty among customers. Are these gains quantifiable? Before the advent of new media technology, the reach of a PR campaign was measured in terms of print circulation, TV viewership and radio listenership. Now, results can be measured instantly through the use of high tech software that also guides practitioners in identifying the channels of content that best interests their target audience. What myths exist about digital disruption? Some people assume that any change in operations is as a result of digital disruption. Disruption occurs only when there is a remarkable shift in a system or environment. Slight changes do not necessarily constitute disruption. Only a major shift qualifies as a disruption. Another misconception is that technological disruption is a bad thing. While it poses some threats especially to traditional industries, disruption can be turned to opportunity with the right strategy. Any advice for young professionals hoping to venture into PR? You snooze, you lose. The digital age is continuously redefining dynamics in PR. Be sure to use technology to improve your brand and that of your organisation. Also, stay alert. Keep abreast with technological changes and trends. Utilise online platforms to your advantage and build meaningful relationships with journalists, bloggers and influencers. Also, institutions of higher learning should think of incorporating this shift in the curriculum. The article was first published on the Daily Nation Newspaper on October 4th 2019