That Solo Life: Co-hosted by Karen Swim, founder of Words for Hire, LLC and owner of Solo PR Pro and Michelle Kane, founder of VoiceMatters, LLC, we keep it real and talk about the topics that affect solo business owners in PR and Marketing and beyond. Learn more about Solo PR Pro: www.SoloPRPro.com
Monday Mar 27, 2023
Getting Real About Disruption
Monday Mar 27, 2023
Monday Mar 27, 2023
Disruption feels like the normal state of life these days. From developments in the financial sector to feeling like AI has come crashing in, it’s a lot. But a time of disruption doesn’t have to be a negative experience. In today’s episode, we talk about how PR pros can navigate these times to our benefit and strengthen our success.
Michelle Kane (00:01):
Thank you for joining us for this episode of That Solo Life, the podcast for PR pros and marketers who work for themselves, people like me, Michelle Kane, with VoiceMatters and my ever-steady co-host Karen Swim of Solo PR Pro. Hi Karen, how are you today?
Karen Swim (00:18):
Hey, Michelle. I'm doing good. How are you?
Michelle Kane (00:21):
Good. Hey, we're just riding the waves of life, hanging on to our boogie boards with dear life,
Karen Swim (00:27):
Yes, we are.
Michelle Kane (00:30):
Oh my goodness. Especially with this season. I think this episode will drop sometime in March and you know, we're coming off of all sorts of disruption in the financial world, but we're going to talk about mainly disruption in public relations, how the practice is changing, how we can go along with that, how we can be ready, how we can prepare. How, if we need to, retool our businesses and how to stay successful, to stay the successful awesome pros that we are.
Karen Swim (01:10):
You know, it's funny, I attended this fantastic webinar this week, and one of the panelists in talking about it was all on artificial intelligence. But it's a different aspect of it. It was really interesting and, and I did gain some insights. However, the panelist in talking about artificial intelligence made the statement and he said, well, you know, the public relations industry is very slow to change. And excuse me, it really bugs me because yeah, as PR practitioners, we often say that about some client industries. There are some client industries that are so slow to adopt, to change. And, I don't want to name those because this is not a time of shaming, but when he said that, it bothered me because there is a lot of truth in that. But it should not be true. It should not be true of us.
So, to be thought of as an industry that is very slow to change to me says that we wait and, and we do, we're cautious. And you always hear people say, you know, the foundation of public relations has not changed. And that's true. At the core and the heart of what we do, it has not changed. But certainly the environment around us has changed. The tools have changed, the methodologies should change. There are so many things that are different. And as this particular, as this panel, I don't know if it was the same panelist, but as they pointed out, they said, we are at a moment with artificial intelligence, much like we were with the internet, and I'm old enough to remember the birth of the internet and to remember how it was rapid innovation and how things like happened.
So it was all about the internet. It was like this new shiny thing, and it wasn't a fad, it wasn't a trend. It stuck, but there was a lot of rapid in innovation in a short period of time. We're seeing that same thing happen, happen in artificial intelligence. So, not to veer off into that topic, because we've discussed that, and we'll continue to update you, but there is disruption. And one of my greatest fears for our people, our tribe, which is public relations practitioners, is that we sit on the sidelines and we wait it out. We wait to see if something's really going to stick. And we're not responding to things like big social media changes. We're waiting out platforms. We're not jumping in and figuring out because things are not going to wait. TikTok is a perfect example. Love it, hate it. Want to be on it, feel like you can't be on it because it's all young people, or because you don't dance or sing.
Michelle Kane (04:25):
Karen Swim (04:25):
It has taken hold of our publics period. And our publics could care less what the government is saying about TikTok.
Michelle Kane (04:34):
Right. That's true. They really don't.
Karen Swim (04:35):
That's true. They do not care that China may be spying on them. They are using this platform. Yeah.
Michelle Kane (04:42):
Karen Swim (04:42):
So some brands have jumped on the platform and they're making it work. News channels are figuring out how to make it work. But we are by and large sitting on the sidelines not making it work because we are not too sure about it, and we don't feel like it, you know, we get it, we know about it, but we're not seizing it and shaping it for our narratives.
Michelle Kane (05:11):
Yeah, you bring up a really good point of how we need to be checking ourselves, right? Because yes, you can drive yourself crazy running after every new shiny. However, if you see something taking hold like TikTok or some kind of innovative way to do your work, don't just wait until, I don't know, the “Guys! Download this PDF Guide!” hits your inbox, start playing around with it, check it out for yourself, see what it can do for you. See what it might do for your client. Because I think there is that, certainly that side to our business and our practice of, you know, we are always trying to stay ahead of the narrative and staying ahead of what could come next. So I think that's a way that we do our job, but I think we need to bring that into the how we do our job for ourselves. It's, we owe that to ourselves, to our clients to really step out into that and think, huh. Okay. I need to really wrap my arms around that.
Karen Swim (06:27):
And let's be real about the shakeup that really is impacting our industry. We see a media landscape that is incredibly chaotic, gone are the days where reporters have a single beat, they don't. They cover four to five subjects, they file eight to 11 stories a day. And there's fewer of them. And there's rapid turnover and change. We see journalists change jobs, like Imelda Marcos changed shoes,
In some industries it still holds true. Like real estate comes to mind. There are still real estate reporters, but beats are shrinking. And again, in response to the economic outlook, media doesn't make money in the same way anymore. There is change. And so that is a disruption to us when we talk about things like TikTok and the social media channels. It's not just that these tools exist, but it's that it's upended what we think of as thought leaders and experts, because everyone has the opportunity to be an expert.
Michelle Kane (08:06):
Karen Swim (08:07):
Everybody can do it. They've democratized having an opinion about things. And so for us, that disruption means two things. It means that you have to be innovative in pitching your own thought leaders. You have to think outside of the box. You have to figure a way to rise above the noise. But it also means that you have to watch out even more closely for misinformation and disinformation, because people can say anything. And if they have enough people following them that believe them, then that false information becomes truth in the minds of many.
Michelle Kane (08:44):
Yeah. And you know, think of it this way. Every company is a media company. And that was never more clear than with the onset of social media. Every company now has a platform to broadcast their message in a variety of ways. And when you're talking about shrinking beats and a shrinking media, add to that the fact that people are being inundated with information from all these people and trying to discern what is worthwhile, what isn't, what is true, what isn't. And if anything, that makes our job even more challenging to cut through all of that noise and to put forth the information that we're handling on behalf of our clients.
Karen Swim (09:31):
I mean, and let's not ignore the elephant in the room. AI.
Michelle Kane (09:36):
Karen Swim (09:37):
AI is absolutely disrupting public relations. And we can raise our fist and we can wave at it, and we could be mad about it, and we could say it's not as good as a human being. And, it is not, artificial intelligence is not really intelligent as someone said this week. It's not, it doesn't have a brain, it doesn't think, however, it is going to absolutely replace some of the things that we hold near and dear. And you know, again, we urge people to test out these tools. Yeah. Play around with them, learn how you could use them in your work because it is disrupting us. I mean, so us being upset about things and talking about how we don't like them or how they're not as effective is not…
Michelle Kane (10:28):
Karen Swim (10:29):
…the strategy that we want to use, what we want to use is we want to become knowledgeable and be able to guide our clients in how they can use them and the things that they should be aware of.
For example, we've all heard now that there's this AI voice scam. That's something that you need to be looking out for. That AI has the ability to go to YouTube, to go to the social media channels and pull your voice and create fast clips. Right? Now they're being used in scams targeting the elderly. But let's talk about what that could really mean for your clients. Does it mean that somebody can take something and have one of your CEOs saying things that they really didn't say? So we have to be on guard for that. And again, I think that we should be leading this effort, not only of how we use AI and how we use it to do our work more efficiently and optimize what we're doing, but we should also be leading advocacy for ethical practices.
We need our voices to be heard. We should be writing about these topics. We should be speaking about these topics. We should be working within our industry groups to make sure that we're holding these companies accountable for privacy. That we are educating our publics about how to vet these things. I mean, there was that AI portrait generator that everybody was using. And I never touched it because they had, you were giving them essentially rights to your image and Michelle and I know intimately because we had an AI expert on our show Yeah. Many months ago before Chat GPT blew up that talked about these problematic areas of AI. So no way am I giving anyone rights to my image, rights to my voice. But we need to understand that and we need to not, and I saw so many people doing this. Oh, it was like the most popular thing. And I'm like, what are you doing?
Michelle Kane (12:48):
Yeah. Because I mean, it was enticing because you thought, Ooh, that looks really cool. Yeah.
But wait, stop. And let's hope that as if you're hearing usyou don't think, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, I'm behind.” No, just stop and consider this is an opportunity to be of service. This is what we do. I tell my clients, “I'm your little black cloud in a dress,
Karen Swim (14:04):
Another disruption that I don't think that we, and I I've been saying this for years, we cannot afford to ignore that. Companies want to understand what they're getting for PR. So for years, people in the industry have pushed back against it. Even with the Barcelona Principles, even with measurement, even with all of these things that have happened, we have by and large said, well, we can't guarantee anything. And we can't, we're not in the sales department, but you kind of are. And let's be 100% real and say that the younger generation is going to run circles around seasoned practitioners because they don't care about those lines. They don't care about anything. And so you have people out here that are doing digital marketing and dabbling in your area and calling themselves PR pros. They're doing things faster, they're doing things different.
But companies want to understand if they're making an investment in PR, what is that getting them? And they have every right to ask that question. And we are now in this tumultuous economic environment where that question is going to come up more and more and more. And so we have to get really comfortable with understanding how to demonstrate our ROI because let's be real, we do deliver ROI, this is not just art. It's not art. And we absolutely can show metrics that show the value that we bring to an organization and we can tie it to dollar amounts. We can show that. But you have to learn how to do that. And if you're not comfortable in that area, we are urging you get comfortable. There's so many courses out there. We have things in the vault in the Solo PR Pro premium vault that address this topic.
Katie Payne is always a good source on measurement. Read, look at the things that we've offered you, dig deeper into the resources, ask questions, ask in the group, let's talk about this. If you want us to do more training tutorials, we can even have experts on our podcast and we can do webinars on this topic to help you get comfortable. But you are going to need to answer this. And I will tell you that in every single client win this year, we have tied, we've drawn a line from what we do to how it matters in your organization. Every single client win.
Michelle Kane (16:53):
And you know, it all starts with - what are your goals? Well, they should be measurable goals. You're not just walking into an agreement with a client of, “oh, we're just going to, you know…” I'll slip on my AbFab hat, “We're going to ‘PR’ everything.”
Karen Swim (17:07):
Michelle Kane (17:08):
No, yeah. You're using tactics. You have specific goals you want to achieve. So just tie your measurement back to that. It sounds so scary. And even as I'm talking about it, I'm thinking, hmm, but it really, it's not that bad. It's not, but it's important. It's very important to do.
Karen Swim (17:26):
I'm telling you, I was one, because I came up a different side of PR. And so initially I would remember getting twitchy, like, you want me to do what? You want me to commit to what?
Michelle Kane (17:45):
Karen Swim (17:47):
But I am very comfortable and I still like learn. I have made this my mission to always be learning and always learn how to communicate value even better, because it matters. And to be honest with you, because I am that consumer, I want to understand what I'm getting from my spend. I am thoughtful about how I spend money. And so if somebody comes to me wanting to offer a service, I want to know what that means. Like, it can't just be shiny pretty, I mean, sometimes it can, like if I'm paying for shiny pretty, then show me how shiny pretty is. But when you're making an investment like this, you want to know that it's going to make a difference in your business. And so, please stop falling back on the company line because the industry is shifting beneath your feet. And we don't want you to fall into the hole. We want you to find yourself on solid ground on the other side.
Michelle Kane (18:46):
Right. And PR pros, you're a bunch of smarties, you know, you're savvy and, and you've got this. It's just taking the time to really stop, look around, maybe reframe how you do some things. And always be learning. And it's the fun part of what we do. We get to learn all the time, which is kind of cool. But, well, we hope we've inspired you today and please dig into some of those resources. And until next time, oh, actually, before I sign off, share this around and subscribe.
Karen Swim (19:25):
Michelle Kane (19:26):
Thanks for listening to That Solo Life.