If you’ve read some of my previous entries, you know that I think PR professionals can learn a lot from each other across industries. That’s why I decided to start a regular Q&A feature where I interview people I hold in high esteem in terms of what I (and you) can learn from them.
 
I recently spoke with Brittaney Kiefer, Web Editor at PRWeek, to get her insights into the public relations industry. As part of her responsibilities, Kiefer manages the PRWeek Tumblr, which you should bookmark and check regularly. She previously served as PRWeek’s corporate reporter where she had her own frequent Q&A feature with high-profile CEOs.
 
Working at our industry’s leading trade publication allows Kiefer to have a great view into PR trends and best practices—and I wanted to share some of the highlights from our discussion. Follow her on Twitter: @BrittaneyKiefer
 
Over the past few years, what are the biggest trends you’ve seen arise in the public relations industry?
 
There are several. Content creation is a significant trend—we’ve seen more agencies helping clients with this, or launching entire units dedicated to it. Community management—PR firms are leaders in managing online communities/social networks for brands. Convergence—we’ve seen a trend toward more companies merging their marketing and communications departments, and this is partly driven by the rise of social and digital media. Finally, data—as my editor wrote recently, “PR firms increasingly need to excel at communication skills more usually associated with direct marketing.”
 
In your previous role at PRWeek, you had the opportunity to interact with high profile CEOs and marketing/communications leaders across many industries—from those interactions, how do you see effective leaders strategically approach public relations?
 
The best leaders recognize the value of communications and include PR/corporate communications heads in the decision making process. They understand that speaking openly, being transparent about business decisions, and listening to consumers is just as important as the bottom line.
 
Who out there is doing public relations “right?” What are some companies and organizations we should all follow in terms of best practices?
 
A couple examples come to mind: I was impressed by how Planned Parenthood managed crisis and told their story when Susan G. Komen for the Cure cut ties with the organization. They won the PRWeek Award last year for crisis/issues management campaign of the year. Planned Parenthood prepared for the possibility of crisis months in advance, and they were able to refocus attention from the national abortion debate to the healthcare services they provide for women. Aflac also did a great job of turning a potential crisis into a PR opportunity after the Gilbert Gottfried debacle.
 
How do you see the public relations industry changing over the next few years?
 
Continued integration—you will see more companies breaking down the lines between communications, marketing, and digital, as well as PR agencies expanding their business to compete with advertising, marketing, and digital firms. Years from now, I’m not sure a traditional ‘PR’ or ‘advertising’ agency will exist.
 
What excites you most about your job? Any other insights you want to share?
 
Meeting and learning from new people every week. The PR industry is full of intelligent, creative minds.