Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In PR Today, It’s Adapt Or Die. Or Else.

Considering the speed at which we get information today, it’s really no surprise that there's added emphasis on the “adapt or die” adage – regardless of which industry you’re in. In the case of PR, it’s adapt or die, and do it at warp speed – or else.

PR depends on being incredibly up-to-date, knowing what’s happening in our clients’ industries (sometimes before they do), knowing who is covering what – or not - and managing these developments in a way that benefit clients, media, and just about everyone linked to them. It's sink-or-swim, without a doubt, and in the maturing digital age, it doesn't take very long to sink to the bottom.

As an industry, we can’t get out of this by looking the other direction or playing thumbsies – that's the whole point of “adapt or die.” So where to start? Here are a few ideas worth trying.

1) Refining information received – Information is being hurled at us every few seconds, demanding to be processed and shared, so it is critical that we sift through the noise, clutter and nonsense. Successful companies are able to study – and toss – information as it's ranked according to usability, quality and value. Think beyond the inbox!

2) Managing and managing some more – We need to study our competitors and how they are impacting our clients’ mindshare. (Hint – these may not always be PR firms).

3) Playing the field without floundering – Successful adapters aren't afraid to make some mistakes to reach another level. Failure can be good, otherwise we would never learn. These adapters are able to predict and plan for both losses and successes that come along with experimentation and a bit of risk.

4) Learning and retaining new decision-making skills – While we need to move at an increasingly rapid and demanding pace, we also need to retain those decision-making tactics that don’t always happen immediately. Think, juggle, balance, rinse and repeat.

And then, of course, are our clients. How do we convince them to adapt along with us? We can finesse changes using statistics and case studies to support our decisions, eking things out for those who aren't comfortable with a big change. Creating an actionable plan of little tweaks can get our plan moving, and once positive results are seen, things can happen more quickly. Piece by piece, we can show our clients that altering how we do things won't result in a collapse or their demise. Think baby steps here.

Adaptation isn't easy, but if we know how to do anything well in PR, it is scoping out situations and managing them accordingly. We know how to smooth, rework, and recreate, and so adapting should be second nature to us.

We just need to carve out some non-billable hours to see where our efforts currently stand, and where to go from here. Are you guilty of not taking the time to create an “adaptation plan,” or are you already working on it?

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