PR has changed tremendously in recent years. New technology and the Web have rendered traditional public relations useless. The digitized global economy is transforming entire industries, and also the way in which consumers and the media acknowledge and handle brand messages. Despite the complexity, however, five valuable words are enough to summarize the most important trends.
- Putting social media center stage
PR is not about press releases anymore. No brand can sustain its image without the media, and today’s consumers are primarily active on social media. This makes it the first focus of any PR officer today. Billions of people and brands communicate daily on it and no PR expert can afford to ignore it as a conduit to consumers, bloggers, and traditional media.
The new generations of consumers increasingly use social media to research brands, publish and share its opinions on products, and recommend or disparage services. Finding the right approach to social media in terms of tone, tenor, and language, is a creative challenge to communicating the right message the right way.
- Targeting influencers
Although the word influencer is vastly overused, real influencers do exist in the online world beyond any shade of doubt. There are already dozens of influencer-marketing platforms, adding to PR people’s media monitoring challenges.
The Web enables anyone to become an influencer. Bloggers specialize in specific industries or product niches. Software developers create fora to scrutinize online services and apps. Consumers create review sites that enjoy millions of visits every month. This is all influencer marketing that any PR agency should have in mind when developing a PR strategy or performing crisis PR.
- Monitoring the media
Google News tells us that 2016 saw some 72 million news stories published online. This makes 200,000 of them a day – and the number is growing. Can a PR agency rise to the challenge of monitoring this number? Can a PR professional provide reliable reputation management service without sophisticated media monitoring? Nope!
Media monitoring is among the top needs of those who seek professional PR. Without thorough media monitoring, PR is simply failing its clients as it becomes unable to measure their campaign efficiency or hone it in any meaningful way.
- Narrowing and defining audiences
Gone are the days when PR firms could plausibly claim the ability to reach everyone within a country or region. Consumers are overwhelmed with information from so many directions that only professional media monitoring can follow and analyze them adequately.
This frees PR firms to direct their efforts at defined, narrow target audiences where any brand message would resonate most loudly and reach the greatest impact. Proper media monitoring data allows PR agencies to spend time selecting the channels through which the message would be delivered to these specific groups. Snapchat users differ from Facebook users, from LinkedIn users, from Pinterest users, from Twitter users.
- Telling digital stories
Digital storytelling will rule the world of PR in the years to come, according to research by the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations and the Association of National Advertisers. Some 88 percent of public relations professionals surveyed identified digital storytelling as today’s most important PR industry trend.
As distinct from the press releases of yore, consumers and journalists expect digital stories that are more akin to articles or other creative content. This increasingly makes flexible PR agencies look for contributors who can both draft a compelling digital story or publish it on sites or blogs that are not burdened with tedious corporate-style media releases.
Those are the most important trends in PR at the down of 2020 but the industry will witness even more reshuffling with the emergence of more advanced online mediums and communication channels.