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Businesses of tomorrow need PR’s honesty, ethics and impactful delivery to succeed

By Samantha Hogg-Brandjes, CEO of GinjaNinja

It was refreshing to interview the CEO of a new client recently and talk about the power of perception and how, according to him, people mattered most: Employees, partners and customers. It wasn’t about targets, number of leads or free coverage. Rather, it was about helping the organisation live truer to its vision and being positioned as a business that is caring and people-centred. Looking to PR was the first step in the right direction for this evolved CEO. To recognise the power of PR and his organisation’s need for it was inspiring and gives me hope as a communications consultant and practitioner for 34 years.

Being a CEO in today’s times is not easy, especially in South Africa. There are so many macro issues such as the political instability, the geo-political nightmares, poverty, 42% unemployment, failing infrastructure, load shedding and so much more. To keep focused on people seems to be the right decision, even if it is harder, while also ensuring that a company’s operations are efficiently run and its use of technology is next level.

McKinsey’s report “Actions that CEOs are taking in 2023” quotes Publilius Syrus saying ‘Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.’ This speaks directly to the challenge today’s management operates in as they deal with a much more fractured and stressed market.

Almost all research analysts list talent management and retention as one of the top three critical concerns for CEOs. Speaking to the value of people in today’s business and the importance of perception, messaging and communication. Something that is very often lost in marketing or not considered at all.

PR has long since proved itself as a valuable business tool, but to hear a CEO list it as one of his key priorities is music to my ears. Yes, there are much bigger issues, but these are almost a given when sitting at a C-suite level. But how you communicate to your audiences should be treated as critical, both internally and externally, yet it is often ignored or lumped in the marketing plan as the second cousin to the primary mix.

How you communicate, what you say, where and when is critical to business success. It is the stories you tell that engage with people, build their trust and influence their commitment to your brand.

An absolute art, communications has the ability to clearly, succinctly, accurately and effectively communicate with target audiences, as well as to understand other people’s concepts and effectively implement them. It can significantly impact a variety of business aspects, including both internal and external interactions with employees, customers, partners and more.

It is the one tool where you can craft and subtly impact an audience, tailoring messages to suit different demographics of audiences and to enable reach in an authentic and sincere way. There is also the fact that creative communication provides a unique competitive advantage, enabling a business to showcase its innovation and creativity while telling the brand story.  I like to say that I am in the business of “perception shaping” and I wholeheartedly believe it. It will take time, but using PR, will successfully influence your perceptions of a brand or a person representing that brand.

Building relationships is at the heart of good communications. Whether it is with stakeholders or other external target audiences, effective communications enable relationships to be built through impactful, honest PR.  In today’s world, mired by a lack of ethics, honesty and integrity, business needs PR more than ever.

Yes, it is an art, but also, a vital business tool that should never be ignored. It is a powerful, cost-effective tool that can make the difference between launching a successful brand and watching it thrive or die. PR can no longer be considered second; it should absolutely be a must-have to succeed.

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