Serving as the ninth PR Jury President and representing the industry at the 2019 Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity has truly been an honor for me. While I have previously served as a jury member for other categories and awards, it was my first time judging both for Spikes Asia and for the PR category. Also, judging both the Integrated Judging Session with other jury presidents and “Grand Prix for Good” has given me a wider perspective.

This year’s Spikes Asia shone a spotlight on diversity. Instead of classifying “difference” as “uniqueness,” we now see it encapsulated within the word “diverse.” It is clear that diversity is being celebrated and reflected in the industry today. Recognizing diversity, however, is only the first step to connecting with audiences. Particularly in Asia, where change occurs rapidly, there are three things that a PR professional should always consider when building a relationship with consumers: diversity, sustainability and relatability.

We live in a world of abundance, flooded daily by new content, designs, products, and countless other stimuli; what was considered trendy just a few days ago may no longer apply today. Everything is happening all at once, non-stop. We are constantly bombarded by true facts and fictitious “facts,” and it is up to us to determine what is valid and what holds true meaning. In such overstimulated environments, we tend to favor content that resonates with us while disregarding everything else as noise. This holds especially true for consumers and brands.

When audiences determine that their conversation with a brand is meaningful, that connection has the potential to go a long way and develop into an incredibly powerful relationship. Everyone is different, and in order to sustain any relationship, we must ensure our messaging can be understood by each and every audience member, regardless of their walk of life.

I understand that it can be difficult to achieve this when cultures, political interests, languages and perceptions can differ so greatly, but this is why in order to move consumers, our PR messages must be sincere, trustworthy and, most important, from the heart in order to transcend differences. When our consumers feel moved, it grants us permission to get involved with important social issues in order to make their lives better. When brands can authentically connect with their audience on topics that matter to them, the audience will understand the brand’s intentions and start believing their messages, regardless of their age or lifestyle.

The campaigns showcased at Spikes Asia this year were not only impressive, but also diverse, relatable, and sustainable on so many levels. I encountered campaigns that were able to truly connect with their audiences because they had sincerity at their core. In addition, many attempted to tackle social issues head-on. I was amazed by the way these consumer-oriented campaigns highlighted new and different perspectives on the same issues, increasing audience engagement across the board and prompting meaningful conversations.

The most memorable campaigns always have an element of “empathy” to them. Brands need to find a way to stand out from their competitors in order to address real-world issues and authentically connect with their audiences. In order to achieve that, they need that little extra something. I believe that fostering empathy can be that extra special something that can leave a lasting impression on a consumer and cause them to truly listen to what we are saying.

As PR professionals, we must promote, protect, and evolve our brands’ images while making sure we are truly connecting with our audiences. To achieve this, our aim must be to create empathetic and memorable campaigns that are also diverse, sustainable, and interactive.

The simplest way to earn trust is to be relatable.

And we, of course, are all relatable in one way or another.

Christine Park is executive vice president, head of Brand & Digital, Korea.

Samuel Pereira