I was so excited when Satyen Dayal agreed to take part in my #ThursdayThought series. Satyen is a Senior Director at Edelman, London. He studied on the BA Public Relations programme at Bournemouth University before heading into the PR industry. He now holds over 15 years experience in the industry, working in the tech space whilst aiming to ‘champion digital transformation’.
This week, the topic of my mind was social media and influencers in PR. Social Media is continuing to grow and I was intrigued to find out what Satyen thought this meant for PR’s future. Not only this but seeing as Satyen is a Bournemouth alumni, I was intrigued to hear what he loves about PR and his top tips…..
LE: How has social media changed PR?
Satyen: Our social media lead, Matt Carrington recently reminded us that social is “all about the audience”. For me, this is one thing that remains unchanged in PR.
Social media has brought us much closer to the audience. This makes it a powerful medium for PR professionals. It often also renders us powerless.
The important thing to understand is that social media is still in its infancy. Society is still learning how to use this medium and so is PR. Hence, we are only at the beginning of the change.
LE: Do you think that there will be an end or decline in traditional media relations if social media continues to grow?
Satyen: This is a hotly debated question. It was only the other day I was discussing it with my colleague Becky Ball. I’d say the real question is whether media relations as a skill will remain relevant in social media? In my opinion, the answer is yes.
As I said, society is still learning how to use social media. For example, the audience is still learning to discern real news from fake news – fact from fiction. What’s interesting are the things that audiences find newsworthy. The things they’ll like or share. These are often the traditional media stories.
There are exceptions to the rule. I don’t mean the cute kitten videos. Instead, some of the more prolific stories on social media can be those that seem bland. Take for example technology industry stories. I often see groundbreaking news get half the attention of a new smartphone battery.
This shows that the real skill in social media is about earning audience attention. Not that different from media relations where we have always had to earn a journalist’s attention. In many ways, through social media, audiences are learning to become journalists and this isn’t easy. But as they improve so will the demands of earning their attention.
Media relations is not in decline but evolving. It’s digitally transforming.
LE: How important are influencers now in PR? Do you think that they will continue to be influential to audiences?
Satyen: I’ll often hear my seven-year-old son say: “Daddy, you don’t know anything about YouTubers!” If anything, that might answer your question.
Our influencer lead Phillip Trippenbach recently hosted a training session on the topic. ‘Tripps’ talks about three different types of influencers: Individual, brand and media influencers. They are gaining traction by offering audiences more personal relationships. These relationships are important for gaining trust. PR is all about earning trust.
That’s why I don’t see influencers as a phenomenon that will disappear. It’s another evolution.
Like social media, it’s not inconceivable that influencers are a trajectory. Not an alternative path for PR but the norm. I might not get to see how this plays out but my son will.
LE: What part of PR makes you love it the most? What do you enjoy doing the most? If you could give somebody who wanted to come into the industry one piece of advice, what would it be?
Satyen: I have grouped these questions together and will answer as one.
In a similar Q&A for PR Careers, I offered some broader career tips and also shared thoughts on what I love about PR.
Taken from Sat’s interview with PRCareers:
“Some would say I’m a bit of an idealist. This is what drew me to PR in the first place. My inspiration comes from many areas but can be summed into a few words that I read when first looking up the various definitions of PR: ‘Mutual understanding between an organisation and its stakeholders’. Despite the criticisms levelled toward our industry, mutual understanding is something I see people striving for every day.
Mutual understanding is also the hardest thing about this work. Despite the continued digitalisation of the PR industry, our mission remains to improve communication between diverse groups of people. Not all of these people see eye-to-eye but when they find common ground the outcome is amazing.
So I guess the main tip is to build your own opinion about what a career in PR means for you. There are more paths emerging and the opportunity to find one that meets your aspirations continues to grow.
If you’ve yet to enter the industry, definitely get some work experience under your belt. Whether it’s a two week or three-month internship, this can go a really long way to securing your first job – not just because it’s a reference on your CV but these experiences can make for a really strong interview conversation.
Do try to focus on paid internships. Paid internships typically mean employers are invested in making it a worthwhile experience. In fact, experience is everything and there is a huge amount of personal and professional development that a career in PR has to offer. Not that you should under-value your worth and contribution – this is just as critical to the continued recognition and potential of our industry.“
One thing I will add which relates to your earlier questions. This industry is undergoing an exciting change. You entering at a time of great opportunity.
“The important thing to understand is that social media is still in its infancy. Society is still learning how to use this medium and so is PR. Hence, we are only at the beginning of the change.”
“In many ways, through social media, audiences are learning to become journalists and this isn’t easy. But as they improve so will the demands of earning their attention. Media relations is not in decline but evolving. It’s digitally transforming.”
Satyen Dayal – Edelman
I was really intrigued by this topic so loved reading Sat’s answers. Social Media is becoming a huge part of society and it’s brought influencers along with it. The industry is going to be very different by the time I graduate but I was still inquisitive as to what Sat thought social media and influencers meant for the PR industry. Thank you to Satyen for taking part in #ThursdayThought this week.