High-street brands need more digital PR to unify approach

HMV’s wounds are a stark example of the beating high-street brands are taking from online competitors. It is one of a long list of retail brands that have been battered on the high street. Others that have either closed or face an uncertain future include Jessops, fashion chain Republic and Blockbusters.

All are seemingly casualties of the digital age as many high-street retailers struggle against the tide of convenience offered to consumers by online shopping models.

So what is the solution? We spoke to retail PR expert, Caireen Wackett, who is a partner at PR firm Portas — founded by Mary “Queen of Shops” Portas — about the role digital PR can play in savingBritain’s ailing high-street.

Wackett argues that PR should be the unifying force that brings together the over arching strategy of high-street brands. She says: “Digital and social media can play a key role in humanising a brand and communicating what the brand stands for.”

Watch the full interview above and visit PR Week’s high-street news update for all the latest news and analysis on the issues facing the high-street.

  • MattBourn

    Caireen is spot on about the role of PR here and how digital and social media is integral to that. Retail brands are in a 24/7 conversation with their audience and are becoming media owners in their own right vying for the attention of their own audience and community.

    The PR and comms activity needs to be true to a retailer’s values which are at their most real at the point of the retail experience, be that in-store on the high street or online shopping from home.

    For retail brands with stores, the focus should be on how that experience on the high-street is the most fulfilling aspect with PR supporting the pre and post store experience through all available channels including digital and social.

  • Aaron

    The brands in trouble have had fifteen years to embrace online media, whether it was websites, SEO, SEM, Email marketing, online advertising, eCommerce, or social media. This stuff isn’t new and it shouldn’t be a surprise that these brands are disappearing. None of them took the Internet seriously as a business, and now they are paying the price for it. There is no mystery, only myopia. Blockbuster and HMV should have been the biggest names in online entertainment, but refused point blank to embrace the digital age. Ford didn’t decide to carry on selling the model T when air bags and turbo chargers were invented, they embraced technology and innovated for the marketplace. The solution is to look at your business and engineer it from the ground up so that modern technology is at the heart of it. Whether that is mobile and location based media services, moving traffic from online to in store and back again or simply making it easy for people to find you and do business with you online, these are the things that high street brands should have been ploughing their thinking into years ago.