Jack Granard looks ahead to the trends you need to monitor in 2018. See the first of this two-part feature on the digital media predictions of 2017 that you should have followed here.
2017 oversaw the continued evolution of what it is to be a PR professional, as it became more influenced by digital elements, social media and marketing.
Importantly, as content became more visual, it superseded the tried tested methods, such as traditional press releases, whilst also bringing about the rise in the use of video, influencer and infographic content. This article will highlight the upcoming trends that need to be monitored in 2018 and how it can be incorporated by your company.
The Future Role of PR: The Statistics
The advancement of the PR role is indicative of the importance of reacting quickly to the latest PR trends so as not to be left behind.
A 2017 USC Annenberg Global Communications study which interviewed 875 PR executives and 101 marketers from around the world found that digital storytelling is the biggest future PR trend with 88% citing it as important. Moreover, social listening ranked second (82%) followed by social purpose (71%) and Big Data (70%).
In terms of skills for future growth, strategic planning with 89% was voted as the most important, followed by written communications (86%), social media (84%), multimedia content development (82%), and verbal communications (80%).
87% of professionals believe the term “public relations” will not describe the work they do in five years, which exemplifies the initial point about being reactive. This is given further strength, where 60% of marketing executives believe PR and marketing will become dramatically more aligned in the near future.
Ultimately, these figures suggest the importance of being a well-rounded PR executive. It is essential to keep on adapting, otherwise the PR professional today could become extinct in as soon as 5 years.
Dark Social Media
Data coverage and tracking in the PR industry has become a fundamental element of presentation and success for clients, in identifying social influence and monitoring performance. However, what is impossible to track is dark social, which is defined as the communication through private messaging platforms, such as, text, email, Whatsapp, Messenger and Skype. The importance of tracking this is accentuated by the likes of Forbes.
Bearing any privacy concerns, the main interests in measuring this is emphasised by the notion that increasingly we are more likely to share a link via dark social than on your Facebook profile. Consequently, PR firms are incapable of measuring this and are left confused as to where the rise in traffic to websites stems from. Significantly, standard web analytics are incapable of measuring this and key insights are lost.
Therefore, to start measuring dark social, one method could be to really emphasise the social sharing buttons on your site, whilst making sure all buttons have trackable links. Alternatively, if your direct track URLs are too long, it will be more unlikely to have been typed in their browser.
Overall, with this being a recent hot point, it is notable to keep your eyes peeled for new developments.
As stated throughout, data measurement has been very important to the PR role and AI has the potential to extend this further, through being utilised for basic research and media monitoring.
By utilising data scientists to predict future trends and investing in artificial intelligence to also combat this, it could pave the way for workload to be reduced for PR companies and to predict when and what businesses need to change. However, one topic that has been heavily discussed is the usage of intelligent chatbots. These bots powered by artificial intelligence could evolve the way customer communication is utilised and may also be used to create a new fun concept to promote a brand. Further weight is given, as it was highlighted by Business Insider as “the biggest thing since the iPhone.”
Speech Recognition Technology
Whether you have seen the parody videos or you have utilised the technology in Amazon Echo, Apple Siri or Google Home, it is largely agreeable that it has been a strong talking point recently.
Speech recognition built into modern devices is quick, accurate and definitely the future. With the possibility of it being used more frequently it could bring about a process where ads and SEO are not relevant. This has been heavily advocated by Steve Waddington (Social Media Director at Ketchum) who believes it will “create another wave of internet disintermediation.”
With rising incomes and interest in becoming more technological, firms should try to incorporate this technology into their campaigns and find new ways to be different.
Personal Brand Reputation and Social Ethics
Is it obvious? Yes.
Does, more need to be done? Yes.
Social media has brought about exposure in new ways, putting us all under scrutiny. However, this is also a positive thing as it allows the opportunity for engagement with all these individuals through social media to gauge what this company is like. Previously, executives would target features in broadsheet papers but now optimising social networks is essential to harbouring not just brand reputation but a personal relationship with the consumer.
72Point has effectively created a space to combat this and has evolved through its recent brand revamp to better understand our organisation, our consumers and our goals. Now with increasing competition and shorter attention spans, only specialised websites who understand how to communicate effectively with all these new tools can succeed.
The PR industry is only likely to become more ethically focused with the Public Relations Communication Association’s (PRCA) expulsion of Bell Pottinger being a major point in 2017. Therefore, more awareness and positive messaging needs to be shown to restore trust.
This year will involve more competition and more technologies to use than ever before. At 72Point, we attempt to stay one step ahead and monitor these trends carefully. The PR world is a jungle and it has been shown to be ruthless in the past year. Therefore, more personal and genuine campaigns need to be implemented this year before it is too late.