Bully Pulpit Interactive partner Danny Franklin tells Doug Simon that a top lesson communicators for brands and nonprofits can learn from his experience in political communications and research is how important identity is "when it comes to persuasion and the relationship between how people think of themselves, how they want to project themselves in the world."

Like many communications conversations these days, the discussion also comes around to AI. Franklin calls AI "a critical tool," but adds that communicators need to provide "as much context to the tools as possible. It's the context that a human analyst provides that elevates the AI tools to the point where they can be truly useful. You can make it do fantastic things, but to make it do useful things really requires a lot of strategic guidance."

That guidance is all the more important with the consumer experience becoming an ever more important part of the communications process, Franklin says. "We're looking for ways to weave into the customer experience and people's experience with a brand. How we can weave those proof points and those stories into the day-to-day live experience because it's the experiences that people trust."

Franklin also stresses looking at successful communications as being a dialogue. "The most important switch that I think communicators need to flip is stopping to think about communicating brand trust as a performative act, where we are telling our story and consumers are listening. Increasingly, it's more conversational. And so, communicators again need to be thoughtful about how not just that they shape the things that are said, but what people are saying back."

The opportunities offered by the metaverse also come up for discussion. "The challenge that communicators have is how you can be in the places where people are willing to point their eyeballs. The metaverse could be an extraordinarily powerful tool because it is so immersive and because the creativity that allows is total and truly total."

However, Franklin says that "the core mission of communicators" remains trust. "And even though we're in a period of eroding trust, I think that the experience of the pandemic has elevated the importance of trust. People give it away more sparingly, but it's more critical than ever."

And while he tells Simon that "one of the conversations that I find myself having a lot is whether trust is outdated," he says "that's a cop out. There are plenty of institutions that are creating really strong bonds of trust. They're just doing it in a different way than we used to. And unless you understand how the best organizations institutions are creating those relationships of trust, the future is going to pass you by."

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]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.