Why PR and marketing remain jobs for humans

Posted by Martin Stott

This morning LinkedIn tried to entice me to apply for a job. “Picture yourself at Telegraph Media Group” came the siren call, above my photograph. And then the role: “Acting Beauty Editor”.

I was amused. I was relieved. Here’s proof to any of us in PR and Marketing that our jobs are safe from computers.

This is an industry about relationships – we try to establish relationships with journalists to get stories published, we try to establish relationships with potential clients to buy our products, or strengthen existing relationships to encourage continued or extra sales.

Most of these relationships are established on mutual beneficial interest. The journalist needs good stories; we’ve got good stories to tell. The wealthy individual needs someone reliable to manage their wealth; the wealth manager needs clients if they’re to be profitable.

In the communications industry our job is to help articulate what our clients have to offer (in academia it is likely to be research insights rather than product) and then to get the message out there.

It’s about identifying your target – someone who could benefit from your products, services or insights if they but knew it. Sometimes it involves educating the person to realise their needs. And then it’s the old AIDA process of creating Awareness that moves to Interest, Desire and Acquisition (and somewhere in the middle of all that is establishing Trust).

Building human relationships

Mutuality is fundamental to building relationships further – establishing areas of common interest, building mutual affection or respect that deepen the trust.

All of this is an art. It involves human qualities and skills like judgement, humour, storytelling and creativity.

Computers are valuable tools. They can help us identify “long lists” of likely targets and to reach people cost-effectively, but leave them to their own devices and they’ll be offering beauty editor job ads to someone who left journalism 12 years ago and is very happy where he is.

So when your kids tell you they’re interested in marketing or PR careers, you can breathe a sigh of relief. They won’t be made redundant by a computer – not for a long while anyway.

And now you must excuse me. I’ve got to head to Boots for some No 7 Lift and Luminate triple action serum anti-ageing cream – seeing that old LinkedIn picture has made me realise how much I’ve aged in this job!

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