The critical role of culture over PR tactics

Bonnke Shipalana

Bonnke Shipalana

Published Jul 3, 2024


Public relations (PR) is poised for revolutionary change as we negotiate the shifting waves of the digital era. Organisations’ approaches to audience engagement, communication and relationship-building are changing due to the introduction of artificial intelligence, the development of sophisticated new measurement tools and the explosive increase of influencers.

AI is transforming PR by enabling more individualised and focused communication tactics, automating repetitive processes and offering deep insights through data analytics.

Additionally, new measurement instruments are emerging that provide never-before-seen accuracy in assessing the results of PR initiatives. The emergence of influencers has created new channels for meaningful and genuine communication. Influencers have grown to be invaluable allies for brands looking to establish a more personal connection with customers, thanks to their devoted followings and trustworthy voices.

But despite all the technical developments and paradigm shifts, one thing remains true: effective leadership is essential to the success of any PR campaign. Even the most sophisticated tools and strategies would be ineffective without visionary leaders who could inspire their teams, understand the complexity of the digital ecosystem and harness the power of new technologies. In the end, an organisation’s ability to thrive in a constantly changing environment, establish trust and adjust to change is largely dependent on the quality of its leadership.

“I strongly believe in getting the right crew on the ship, the wrong crew off the ship and then charting the course for the voyage. Just as a successful voyage needs a competent crew with the right skills and attitudes, a business requires a team of talented and motivated individuals who are well-suited for their roles. Each crew member’s expertise contributes to the overall success of the journey. During a voyage, unexpected weather or obstacles may require the crew to adjust their course. Flexibility and quick decision-making are crucial for navigating such changes,” says the group CEO at The Allure Group, Bonnke Shipalana.

There are three crucial factors that have a long-term impact on driving business culture over tactics:

1. Ensure that the ship has the right crew - Just as a successful voyage requires experienced and capable crew members, a company needs to prioritise hiring the right individuals. The company’s core values, a strong work ethic and an internal motivation to excel should drive these individuals. Jim Collins, in his book, “Good to Great”, highlights that having the right people in place is more crucial than having a clear strategy from the outset. The right crew would naturally work together to navigate challenges and opportunities.

2. Remove the incorrect crew from the ship - Employees who do not fit the culture or possess the necessary skills could hold a company back, just as unqualified or uncommitted crew members could compromise a ship’s efficiency and safety. “It is crucial to rigorously and respectfully part ways with individuals who do not align with the company’s vision and standards. You can modify the strategy and direction, but without the correct team, the execution will struggle,” says Shipalana.

3. Strategy Comes After People: Once the right crew are on board and the wrong crew are off, the next step is to chart the course for the voyage. This represents the company’s strategy and direction. A strong team would be better equipped to determine and execute the best strategic path. With the right people in place, a company could confidently chart its course, knowing that its team members have the skills, commitment and alignment needed to navigate towards success.

Shipalana says: “The real test of a company’s success is its capacity to seize opportunities while maintaining a robust and encouraging culture. Public relations tactics are crucial for good communication and interaction, but they also need to be supported by a culture that values development, creativity and the most efficient use of human resources. Businesses can create a culture of excellence that promotes long-term success and attain outstanding results by placing the most qualified individuals on the most promising prospects, and not your priority problems.”

By understanding the parallels, leaders could better appreciate the importance of team dynamics, strategic planning, adaptability and strong leadership in running a successful business or brand.

The Star