What’s Trending in 2019 Public Relations & Communications
January 10, 2019
I rang in the new year with one part champagne, one part reflection – a concoction that delivers a renewed sense of purpose and priority to guide the year ahead both personally and professionally. Instead of boring you with my updated morning routine, here’s where I see the field of PR and communications trending towards in 2019.
Technology is changing how we work, communicate and consume information. Some traditional PR functions have become outdated as audiences turn to new and different channels for their information and entertainment. The polarized political and social landscape continues to erode public trust in institutions, media and businesses forcing public relations practitioners to explore other storytelling avenues. Creativity and savvy strategies are a must for any successful PR campaign.
New technology and access to data will lead the way for PR pros to further hone our craft in 2019 as we continue to blend into the marketing, digital and advertising mix. Heading into a new year, PR folks should also expect to double down on ethics, transparency and authenticity – core tenants of the practices – to help restore public trust. Whether or not you’ve set your goals for 2019, watch for these communications trends.
Artificial intelligence is here, and its applications are growing. Many industries are embracing the technology for a multitude of functions, raising questions about its benefits and potential consequences to consumers. For brands that do integrate AI, public relations will play a role in educating consumers and building trust in its ethical application. One such application is AI-powered virtual assistants like Alexa. As brands expand their presence on these devices, PR pros will have another opportunity to create and share content tailored to these devices.
For integration within the PR industry, AI may provide the solution to meaningful media monitoring and measurement, with performance indicators that more clearly demonstrate how PR efforts impact overall business goals. With ample tools on deck, PR pros can expect help from AI to refine nuanced performance indicators like sentiment. For instance, discerning how a company is positioned in the media on a certain topic or what themes dominate media coverage.
Purpose-driven brands (and CEO activism)
This year expect to see more brands making declarations of purpose. From banning straws to taking a political stand, people expect, even demand this from the brands they choose to support. For public relations practitioners, this is an opportunity to help create and promote meaningful campaigns that really make a difference.
Focus on micro influencers
The heyday of social influencers is far from over, it is just getting more granular. PR professionals, alongside marketing and advertising counterpoints, can expect to execute authentic influencer-assisted campaigns that utilize “micro influencers.” These are influencers with a smaller, but generally more engaged group of followers. This means influencers that are more likely to actually influence their followers to move to action (i.e., watch, buy, subscribe, etc.).
Beyond micro influencers, some brands will encourage employees and other stakeholders to become brand ambassadors on social media. When executed correctly, brand ambassadors of all kinds help create fresh and entertaining content that audiences crave to break through the clutter.
Crisis communications and social media
The speed that news spreads, especially bad news, is not slowing down thanks to social media. Coupled with this, declines in public trust and the demand for corporate responsibility has led to increased scrutiny surrounding corporate crisis response. One wrong step can be worse than the original crisis so the reliance on strategic counsel and guidance from crisis communications experts will continue to increase in 2019.
Power of relationships still reigns
While many industries are embracing AI and automation, the power of a genuine, mutually beneficial relationship still reigns. Despite shifts in the media landscape, a PR professional is still most successful in securing earned media from well-maintained relationships with journalists. Strong community relationships are key to building support for campaigns and promoting causes. For PR practitioners, that means getting out of the office and meeting people on their turf should be a priority in the coming year.
For communicators, 2019’s mentality shouldn’t be “out with the old and in with the new,” it’s more about adapting our skills to meet new opportunities.
(Want to talk about morning routines? Drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org)
January 10, 2019