Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Joanna O’Connell talks with Doug Simon about how communicators can negotiate the changing relationships between consumers, brands and content publishers on the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interviews.

O’Connell says that while the ins and outs of those relationships are a complicated topic, it all basically comes down to finding the right way “for brands and consumers to connect.” Whether those communications take place through advertising, PR or other marketing channels is less important than making sure that all players in the communications “ecosystem” are having their needs met.

“When we’re talking about those different sorts of traditional silos,” she says, “ultimately we’re talking about just talking about content… To treat them as though they are somehow separate is last year’s model. We’re just not there anymore.”

The growing role that data plays in communications is also addressed in the conversation. O’Connell says that an overreliance on data and technology can have a negative impact on the relationship between brands and consumers. She mentions “advertising experiences where it feels like the message you’re getting in an ad is just too close to home. They know you too well, or they’re following you around the Internet.”

She tells Simon that organizations need to figure out their strategy around data and partnerships, and how that will shape their communications. With the regulatory and legislative environment set to change rules about access to consumer data—and browsers such as Safarai, Firefox and Chrome taking their own actions about limiting that access—O’Connell tells Simon that communicators need to prepare themselves for a more “data sparse world.”

However, she says that giving consumers control over their data can also create opportunities for PR pros. “It’s not so much the data and technology itself,” O’Connell says, “it’s how you use it to create a better understanding of what consumers actually want and how they want to engage with you.”

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

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