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The Human Touch in PR: Erika Dawkins on Connecting with Audiences Authentically

11 mins read

At PRNEWS.IO, we’re continuing our “Her PR Journey” project, where we publish interviews with amazing women in the public relations industry. Our latest featured guest is Erika Dawkins.

Erika is a seasoned communications specialist with over 15 years of experience working with businesses of all sizes. She’s an expert in crafting effective PR strategies and compelling stories that connect with audiences.

In this interview, Erika shares her journey from working with small businesses to taking on bigger roles at larger organizations. She discusses the importance of authentic storytelling in building trust and memorable brands.

Contacts:

Get ready to gain valuable wisdom from this talented communications leader! Let’s dive into our conversation with Erika Dawkins.

A Conversation with PR Thought Leader Erika Dawkins

PRNEWS.IO: Hello, Erika! Could you please introduce yourself and share a bit about your background in marketing and communications? How did you come to your current roles as a professor and communications specialist?

Yes, I’m thrilled to introduce myself and share my journey. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, I’ve had the opportunity to work in almost every facet of communications, providing me with a well-rounded view of how businesses should communicate effectively. Many of the organizations I’ve had the opportunity to work with have been small businesses and I always credit those businesses for trusting me and giving me the experience I needed to put me in place to receive opportunities with some of the larger entities and organizations I’ve worked with. 

My diverse background and hands-on experience in communications inspired me to impart practical knowledge not only to businesses, but also in mentoring aspiring professionals. My path to becoming a professor stemmed from this passion for nurturing the future generation of communications professionals. Through my role as a professor, I aim to instill a deep understanding of the ever-evolving communication landscape while fostering creativity and strategic thinking in the next wave of industry leaders.

PRNEWS.IO: Why do you think effective communications are so important for the success of any organization or company?

Effective communication is vital for the success of any organization. Clear communications help build trust with customers, stakeholders, and employees, which is crucial for maintaining a positive reputation and driving business growth. 

Ultimately, effective and creative communication is the foundation for fostering innovation, managing voice, and differentiating a company in the market. I’ve seen firsthand how impactful communication strategies can be in propelling businesses towards success.

PRNEWS.IO: How has the rise of digital media transformed the landscape of public relations? What new opportunities and challenges has this created?

The rise of digital media has revolutionized public relations by offering new opportunities but it doesn’t come without challenges. It enables us to have direct engagement with audiences, creating targeted messaging through data analytics, and amplified reach through a variety of online platforms. However, it brings challenges, like information overload, heightened reputation management needs in the digital space, the need for swift crisis response, and the ever-changing landscape of digital algorithms, which is a whole different monster. 

PRNEWS.IO: Can you talk about the importance of storytelling in public relations and how it can impact a company’s brand?

Storytelling is my favorite part of all communications and public relations. It is truly the heart of all effective public relations, as it has the power to humanize a brand and build emotional connections with the audience. 

Through compelling narratives, brands can communicate their values, mission, and unique selling points, distinguishing themselves in the market. Stories have the ability to captivate, inspire, and leave a lasting impact on consumers. By weaving authentic and relatable stories into PR efforts, companies can not only enhance brand recall but also build trust and loyalty among their audience, ultimately shaping a strong and memorable brand identity.

PRNEWS.IO: Tell us about one of the most creative or unusual PR projects you’ve worked on. What made it unique?

One of the most creative PR projects I’ve spearheaded was the launch of a new brand of dog treats. What made this project truly unique was our approach to leveraging dog influencers and compelling storytelling that resonated with pet parents. By highlighting the natural ingredients and health benefits of the treats through authentic narratives shared by the influencers, we were able to connect with pet owners on a genuine and emotional level. This approach not only generated significant buzz around the brand but also fostered trust and loyalty among our target audience, setting the stage for a successful and impactful product launch.

PRNEWS.IO: You mentioned that you don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all communication strategy. How do you tailor communication strategies to fit different organizations?

Absolutely, a tailored communication strategy is paramount for every organization. When crafting communication plans, I dive deep into understanding the unique aspects of each organization, including its culture, values, audience, and industry landscape. This personalized approach allows me to align the communication strategy with the specific goals and needs of the organization, ensuring that it resonates authentically with its stakeholders. 

By customizing the messaging, tone, and channels to fit each organization, I can effectively tell their distinct story and offerings, ultimately fostering stronger connections and engagement with their audiences.

PRNEWS.IO: How often do you utilize media publications for your clients or your own initiatives? Which types of media publications do you find most effective, and why?

I frequently utilize media publications for the clients I work with, tailoring the choice based on the specific needs of each client. In my experience, industry-related publications have been the most effective for ads or native advertising opportunities. Positioning the organization in front of relevant audiences through industry-specific platforms has consistently yielded positive results. For instance, in a past project with an insurance company, we achieved success by running native ads in Insurance Business America, effectively reaching and engaging with a highly targeted audience within the insurance industry.

PRNEWS.IO: What role do you think women play in the PR industry? What unique qualities and advantages do they bring to this field?

As a female communications agency owner, I firmly believe that women play a pivotal role in the PR industry. Our ability to empathize, communicate effectively, and nurture relationships brings a unique dynamic to the field. 

Women often excel in understanding the nuances of human behavior and are adept at crafting compelling narratives that resonate with diverse audiences. Additionally, our collaborative and empathetic approach fosters strong connections, both within the team and with clients, leading to more authentic and impactful PR strategies. In my experience, embracing these qualities has not only driven success for my agency but has also contributed to a more inclusive and innovative PR landscape.

PRNEWS.IO: What are some of the challenges that women face in the PR industry, and how can they overcome them? Have you faced any gender biases on your professional journey?

As a female agency owner, I acknowledge that many women in the PR industry encounter challenges such as unequal representation in leadership roles and gender biases. While I have not personally faced any gender biases that were blatant enough for me to recognize, it’s essential to create a supportive and inclusive work environment where all voices are heard and valued. Encouraging mentorship, professional development opportunities, and advocating for gender equality in the workplace can help women overcome these challenges and thrive in this industry.

PRNEWS.IO: How do you see the future of PR and communications evolving over the next decade? What trends should professionals be aware of and prepared for?

I envision the future of PR and communications to be increasingly driven by technological advancements, specifically in the AI landscape. PR and communications professionals HAVE to be prepared for the growing influence of AI and data analytics when it comes to crafting personalized and targeted messaging. Additionally, the rise of interactive and immersive content formats like virtual and augmented reality, will reshape storytelling and audience engagement. 

Embracing sustainability and ethical communication practices will also be huge, reflecting the evolving values of consumers. Ultimately, staying agile, tech-savvy and ADAPTABLE will be crucial for navigating upcoming trends shaping the PR and communications sphere in the coming decade.

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