PR Pros are no strangers to giving organizations an authentic voice. Creating one is what separates good practitioners from the rest of the field. It drives interest, engagement, and coverage.
But with today’s focus on podcasts and clubhouses, this authenticity is evolving. Writing a solid press release is no longer good enough; PR Pros need to have a holistic voice strategy that cuts across many different platforms and creates engagement.
Digital voice is now big business. It took a while, but once consumers warmed up to their Siri’s, Google Now’s, and Amazon Echo’s, the market took off. Smart speakers aside, the voice assistants on phones are getting snazzier and smarter. As companies blend these technologies with personal devices (from laptops to TVs), voice will continue to become the preferred user interface.
It is little wonder that brands want to be heard. Consumers are using voice searches to live out their lives, and brand marketers are hard-pressed to get their brands mentioned.
AI is also playing a big part in growing digital voice applications. First and foremost, it made digital voice more conversational. So, while you gave Siri instructions to follow in the past, today you can have a conversation. AI tries to pick out the context and the subtle nuances. It’s not perfect (yet), but the good thing about AI is that it won’t forget once it learns.
Video was once the marketer’s multimedia tool of choice. But in today’s frenetic living, taking the time to watch videos is becoming a luxury. Instead, consumers listen and talk with their devices as if they are talking to real-life people. Chatbots have evolved into personal assistants. The voice is now a brand.
But that’s just in our generation. The next generation of leaders, media, and consumers will be voice-driven. Searching the web using their voice is going to be the preferred method. It is already occurring in some tech jobs where developers speak to code and instruct. This propensity for voice will shape how we engage and interact with our digital and physical environments.
So why does this matter to PR Pros?
Well, the issue with voice is that our PR approach needs a re-think. First, voice is narrowly focused. You ask Siri for the nearest coffee house, and it will give you one to three options. You won’t get a long list of options like when you do a text search on your phone.
The same applies to the latest news or announcements. Voice users will not have the patience to go through different choices being read to them. They will focus on the first three to five items at most and make up their mind. If those are all your competitors, their messaging and branding become heard, and yours does not.
Voice search is still in its infancy. Unlike text searches, where SEO and social media marketing play considerable roles in ensuring your announcements get page views and engagement, voice searches continue to evolve as they add context and other filters. New user interfaces are now appearing. For PR Pros, it is the right time to hone their clients or company voice.
PR Pros also need to get very precise on what they want people to hear. Listeners will want authenticity and accuracy from the voice result with no visual cues or words (that can be re-read). Since voice search results are minimal, you do not have a second chance to be heard.
The next generation of social media appears to be pointing to voice, following the success of Clubhouse. The invite-only, mobile-first app is creating new waves on how people engage and interact with voice.
The allure of Clubhouse is its exclusivity. You need an invite. And once you have been, you can engage freely on the topic. They are also not searchable. So, PR Pros cannot follow these conversations unless they are part of one. It is why PR Pros in the entertainment industries are focused on getting invited or creating engaging sessions on Clubhouse. If you are not asked to a Clubhouse, you are not “in” or a part of the tribe.
The good thing is that PR Pros are not new to this. They had radio. Clubhouse is like Drivetime Talk Radio. We all understand the captive power of listening while doing something else with our minds. But while radio hosts determine the content, Clubhouse AI algorithms personalize the content for their members tuning in. So, it becomes your own personalized Drivetime Talk Radio channel.
It is one reason why Clubhouse is also moving a step ahead of podcasts. The latter drowned us with choices; Clubhouse suggests conversations that it feels you need to be a part of based on your past likes and dislikes.
This is powerful, and PR Pros need to learn how to maximize it to their advantage. Clubhouse is not the only app in town, and new competitors will challenge it (like Facebook’s), but it will become a mainstay for sure. PR Pros need to find out how to get suitable placements and whether their company/client is well represented.
This will increasingly matter as the PR world warms up to Clubhouse. The media is now experimenting with Clubhouse (and its look-alikes). Journalists are dropping into conversations for exciting ideas, opinions, and trends.
For PR Pros, Clubhouse is not just a platform to be heard; it can offer an excellent resource for understanding new trends to tweak your message house. You can understand what journalists are looking for in terms of stories and pitches, and it also allows you to build authentic connections with them.
In a voice-driven future, such authentic conversations will be priceless.