Learnings – can you teach an old brand, new tricks?

By Lara Magnus

I love the concept I found at (https://www.skillsyouneed.com/learn/learning.html ) – that much of our learnings in life occur randomly – from new experiences, gained information and how our perceptions develop. The Web site mentions actions we do every day, such as chatting to a friend, reading a newspaper or watching a news broadcast as key parts to this learning process (no wonder I connected with it – as a PR person)!

The site also goes on to say that while teaching is something that one person does to another, learning is something we can do for ourselves. While obvious – it was very powerful. As it examines not only what we know, but who we are – which means learning must connect for it to stick.

However, with the amount of access to information that we have, coupled with the amount of opinions out in the ether, what are we really learning and how is this informing our decisions?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fantastic thing that we have access to so much information – as with this access it is very difficult for any person or brand to hide – but at what cost? The cost for me is that our learnings may well be being informed by other people’s perceptions, but they are void of any real connection to the people with these views and opinions.

This leads me to my actual point. As PR professionals trying to engage (and influence, if we are honest) stakeholders and the market on behalf of our clients – are we considering that most opinions out there are often informed by other people’s perceptions, or lack thereof – as this has an enormous impact on clients messaging and positioning in the market.

Of course, most PR companies strive to provide valuable learning experiences – real opportunities to connect. We all want to ensure the work we do has an impact or the messaging sticks with the audience. But, this concept of a valuable learning experience, within your key target audience, is not something I am seeing at the top of the strategic marketing agenda within most companies or even most agencies.

I see too many PR agencies (and marketing departments) doing the same thing or using the same tactics – in the same way – and believing that adding on things like social media accounts, makes them relevant, makes the client relevant – but they haven’t really addressed the need to connect. Without connection, there can be no influence.

If perceptions are built on information gained, then there is no doubt for me that PR plays a critical role. But if we understand that learning occurs randomly – only when there is a real connection – then surely this must be built into PR and marketing strategies? If you want to connect with your market you cannot do the same things, in the same way – every year – hoping to get a different response. No wonder media, and influencers are bored with PR and marketing departments and the stories they spin and publish.

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