The role of the press office in the age of multichannel communication
In the age of the internet and social media, press offices can still play an absolutely decisive role in building a brand’s reputation. The historical conjuncture in which we find ourselves, characterised by an ever-changing global scenario, is also marked by a frightening speed and velocity, well represented by the lightning speed with which companies, people, and professionals publish content on social networks.
A large amount of content posted every day, within the innumerable platforms offered by the network, has also greatly influenced the way of thinking of many companies, which have decided to rely for the most part on the dynamism and liveliness of social media for their communication strategies, leaving aside or neglecting the traditional methods with which the communication and reputation of companies and celebrities have been handled for decades, in every corner of the world. One of these is certainly the press office, which, in the face of the explosion of new media, has increasingly become confused with marketing and communication departments, thus losing all its centrality. But the role of the press office is completely different from that of the marketing department, and it is worth reiterating this, especially today, at a time when even companies themselves risk mixing all these functions into an inextricable jumble.
The evolution of communication
Strictly speaking, press office activities obviously fall under everything to do with communication, understood as an exchange of messages between a sender and an addressee. One could go so far as to say that press office activities, while structurally communicative, differ from traditional communication activities in their ultimate purpose: for the latter, the objective is to disseminate and deliver a certain kind of message to a certain audience, at the right time and in the right place, ensuring that this content is conveyed in an appropriate form and perfectly suited to the needs of those who are to receive it. The nature of the press office, even nowadays, is completely different. In the press office, it is not so much important that the message reaches its destination – this is almost taken for granted – but that it is characterised by a certain type of content, which must contain a clear and unequivocal position, a point of view or a statement of intent that helps to understand and delineate the personality of a brand, celebrity or company, regardless of its size.
The hybrid forms of communication
In this case, therefore, the ultimate goal is to build and protect the brand’s reputation. The main medium through which this content has always been disseminated is the press release which is usually contained in the press kit, which is still used today – albeit in very different forms – to reiterate an opinion, a stance, or any communication that contains a clear reference to the company’s personality, its peculiar way of understanding reality. In crisis situations, in addition to the various activities to be carried out also on social media – with the creation of ad hoc content or with careful community management -, one always expects the clarifying press release, which with its air of officialdom clears all residual doubts and helps the media to decode an apparently complex situation. In order to adapt to the needs and sensitivities of the new public, many companies have decided to create a new form of hybrid communication, especially on social media such as Twitter, creating content somewhere between a (very short) press release and a social network or micro-blog post. The form is quite different from that of traditional press releases, but the content – with all its peremptory incisiveness – is perfectly the same.
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In the age of social media, one must learn to systematically adapt to the needs of the public, with content or modes of interaction that meet their expectations but without excessively distorting the original spirit that animates the brand.
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