Technology has had a significant impact on the world of public relations. However, smart public relations professionals, like Emma Smith of Three Lions Public Relations, have learned to harness technology to make their lives easier, improve their business outcomes and expand their clients' brands.
Q: What devices do you use daily?
A: "PR professionals can, and do, work from just about anywhere," said Smith.
Smith uses the usual tools of the trade – a laptop and a cell phone – to keep her on top of what her clients need no matter where she is in the world.
Q: What technology do you use to get ahead of your competition?
A: Smith points to Hubspot as a big differentiator for 3 Lions. It provides her with actionable insights and visibility into how journalists are reacting to a message.
"Often, PR people have no idea whether journalist contacts have even opened their emails," she said.
Hubspot, however, lets her team see not only if an email has been opened, but how often and what messages and links the recipient has interacted with.
"This gives us some good insight into what has resonated, and with whom, allowing for more targeted follow-up – and potentially a shift in approach, as needed," Smith added.
Q: Is technology a significant enabler for your business?
A: Smith's team works remotely, so technology is an enormous enabler for her team.
"Technology allows for effective project management, research, communication and collaboration," she said.
But it has an even bigger and more surprising impact for her team: "The use of video conferencing technology, in particular, enables us to see each other, and other clients, face-to-face."
Thanks to video, Smith and her team can build deeper relationships with their clients and co-workers, even when they aren't in the same room. Plus, video helps provide clarity.
"Video calls allow all involved to pick up on non-verbal cues, and minimize the risk of a message being misconstrued," Smith said.
Q: Has social media influenced your business at all, from internal employee policies to the way you promote your company?
A: Obviously, as a PR firm, 3 Lions understands social media as a tool for its clients. Smith noted that they use it for marketing themselves as well.
"We've engaged with potential clients via social media, and we regularly participate in Twitter chats to share insights and best practices with other industry professionals," she said.
Q: Have you had to adapt your business because of security concerns brought about by the increased use of technology?
A: While security hasn't caused a drastic shift in how Smith's team does business, they are still cautious.
"Companies often grow complacent thinking it 'won't happen to them,'" she said, "but, at previous companies, I've witnessed first-hand the immediate challenges, and potential lapse in client trust, that can arise when a security breach occurs."
Her team uses tools to generate secure passwords and makes sure anti-virus, and other security tools, remain up to date.
Smith cautioned other entrepreneurs not to overlook this important element of their business: "Business leaders should ensure that employees are educated as to security best practices, and know how to identify potentially suspicious activity such as phishing."