Creating Connections: UX and Public Relations
The value of user experience (UX) design isn’t confined to digital products, though technology is where the practice gained prominence. The most successful business enterprises are integrating UX along the line, and public relations and communications are no exception.
Technology has transformed the media landscape, upending the traditional models for PR planning and raising the need for new skills. Communicating across different channels requires a deep understanding of the experience of users — the consumers on the other end of your message.
That’s our bailiwick — we make it our business to focus on creating a rewarding experience for users that galvanizes them into the action you want. That includes the people you need to reach for your PR campaign.
UX in the World
Whether you know it or not, you’re living with the results of UX in the products and media that you experience every day.
In Amazon’s first year, Jeff Bezos invested 100 times more in user experience than advertising. Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, but they made one that was easy to use. People turned to Google because the most relevant information was there — just the way they wanted it.
Websites that load quickly on any device, displays with a carefully limited number of items to choose from, and successful crisis management campaigns, all result from a deep understanding of the experience of the audience, consumer, or user at the other end.
New Challenges for Public Relations
Public relations isn’t what it used to be. New media has radically shifted the way public relations professionals work, as traditional media outlets now share space with apps, social media, digital publications and blogs, competing for attention from a distracted audience. How do you make sure your message cuts through the noise?
Audiences aren’t passive receivers anymore — they’re interacting with campaigns and helping to shape them. With social media at everyone’s fingertips, the PR strategy can be diverted off course much more quickly than in the past. The speed of social media calls for a more agile response than traditional media allows .
Crafting the Message
Technology has also transformed the research role of the PR firm, as access to data replaces time-intensive surveys, focus groups, and interviews. With the insight gained from analytics and CRM tools, it is possible to create niche content for the user and deliver it directly to where they are. The result is a feeling that the message is just for them — and that is a high value user experience.
High quality content is still a paramount concern, especially in the contemporary media landscape. It needs to suit the medium and appeal to the individual on the other end.
Applying a UX process to the public relations strategy gives communicators an advantage in this complicated landscape. Mastering UX means that people can be meaningfully engaged at a different level and through more touchpoints than before.
When and where will the user be when they see your message? They could be checking emails, browsing social media, or taking a last look at the smartphone before bed.
Buyers work through stages — referred to by marketers as the buyer’s journey — that take them from research to decision, before committing to the purchase. There are differences in how buyers reach a decision to buy, depending on whether it’s a B2B or B2C transaction. What stage of this journey is your target user on?
Refining the Details
A fluid digital experience is key to capturing the attention of users in that brief moment that they become available. Users expect a seamless experience across platforms and a myriad array of devices. Responsive design ensures that your great content and visuals are equally compelling, wherever they may be accessed.
Is it shareable? Are the critical elements — calls to action, subscription forms, contact information — available, no matter where the content is being viewed?
How the content aligns with the design and the intent of the message is another significant intersection for PR and UX. Attention to that level of detail may account for why the Instagram Stories interface creates a harmonious experience for the user, while the Facebook Messenger Day version doesn’t.
Users need to find value in what you give to them and that’s at the core of UX. As UX practitioners, our team develops a “deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations”.
We work across disciplines to ensure the engineering, graphical and industrial design, interface design — and marketing — elements are aligned with business goals, while maintaining focus on a high-quality user experience.
Be useful, be usable, be enjoyable — that is the mandate that guides the UX team towards a successful outcome for the business and its product.
Working with the UX Team
Businesses are finding that working with a UX team to guide the development of a product or service is cost-effective, preventing costs from those faulty launches and flawed messages that arise from a lack of understanding of the user experience. A study released by Forrester Research in 2016 found that the top 10 companies leading in customer experience outperformed the S&P index with close to triple the returns.
Collaboration during development, including research, planning, design, and testing, in conjunction with a UX team, keeps individual departments on track and focused on the goal. Incorporating UX principles into your communications strategy is also an important addition to your PR toolbox.
Our UX team helps businesses stay on the cutting edge of the industry, keeping your team members on focus through every stage of the project. Businesses realize the benefits in increased profits, productivity, and rewarding relationships.