PR agency, PINPOINT PR was one of the agencies which worked closely with client EGN to bag the gold award for the Best Use of Advocates in MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's recent PR awards. Over the past year, the agency has seen the COVID-19 pandemic impact the communications function across the industry. In this interview, CEO and managing director of PINPOINT PR, Ilka Gobius shared further in detail what can be expected of the PR agency in the year 2021, and also some of the proudest achievements of the firm in 2020.
This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for PR Awards 2021. To find out more about the awards, click here.
What would you say was the biggest accomplishment for the whole PR/communications community in 2020?
Gobius: In life there are tipping points, and I think that the tipping point for communications to be wholly separated from marketing came in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for authentic, unambiguous communication, and only the PR teams could deliver. PR was put on the boardroom agenda in 2020.
What would you say was your proudest achievement of the year?
Gobius: I’d say that point came on pretty early in 2020, when we worked with The Business Times in February, and The Straits Times in March, to get stories that were published as full broadsheet stories into each paper to highlight that executives are lonely.
I often liken communications to creating a snowball, you have to build and build that snowball with a good kernel and foundation, to get it to hurl and roll with its own momentum.
Getting those stories published gave the story the momentum it needed to ‘get the ball rolling’ to generate conversation on the topic, independent of the PR efforts.
What are some communications trends you see carrying on post-pandemic?
Visual and audible communication builds trust. If you can’t, and mostly we can’t, meet face to face, then video is the next best thing. We have to visibly or audibly communicate openly and authentically. Videos, podcasts, infographics, are successfully getting ideas across.
For example, one of the most powerful tools I’ve seen to convince people to take the AstraZeneca vaccine is an infographic that has compared the percentage chance of developing a blood clot from the vaccine vis a vis birth control, smoking, or actually getting Covid-19. When the prime minister goes live on air, you know to take the subject seriously.
Thought leadership is more important than it’s ever been. Demonstrating your credibility, your expertise, carrying a perspective that rationalises what the problem is, and what the solution can be, rather than hard ‘selling’ is what builds trust to purchase brands.
The tone with which leaders communicate has softened. Even if the consequence is harsh, the delivery is softer than it has been pre-pandemic. For example, Minister Lawrence Wong has won over Singaporeans with his delivery of pandemic restrictions at press conferences because his tone is compassionate and reasoning, rather than dictatorial.
How will the role of communications professionals evolve as we move into a rather uncertain future?
Gobius: As technology improves, as the internet (and processing time) gets faster and faster, I think communicators will more ardently transition from using words to using visuals. With 5G, we will be immersed in using virtual reality or augmented reality as well as words, and these are tools that provoke emotions and create empathy, to give people something to bond over.
Data and analytics will better inform us how to manage our communications strategies to reach our stakeholders, and in what manner, and to more quickly detect if the strategy is working or not. The Fortune 50 already have access to such tools (example), and as such technology becomes more mainstream, a greater number of communicators will be able to better identify our stakeholders and develop more sophisticated communications strategies to reach them.
What can we expect from your company in 2021?
Gobius: We are passionate about communicating scientific advancements, and emerging technologies in layman’s terms so that the general public understands the need for science and technology and the impact such advancements can bring.
Some of our themes this year include addressing why women don’t ask for advancement; we are going to promote advancements in nutrition and show how, by consuming scientifically advanced new foods, we can help to sustain the planets resources and address the issue of obesity; we will keep discussing digitalisation and how that’s impacting the role of the CIO, and how the CIO can better manage their resources; and we will continue to discuss operational threat security, which continues to be an issue with much of the world still working remotely; and we will discuss platforms for open innovation and collaboration.
We are growing, and we want more people who are intellectually curious to join us.