Here are my five key PR trends that will shape your year.
1. Be more accountable
In PR, empirical evidence is no longer an option but a demand. This has been a topic of discussion for several years and can no longer be ignored. Knowing and showing that you know are two different things. There is a means to measure everything; whether it’s increased awareness, community development, customer generated earned media, brand reputation or clicks to your website.
PR professionals need to understand data in order to have a heads-up on what’s going on and how to offer the best service possible. CIPR training is the best way for PR professionals to become competitive and avoid the traps of bad data.
2. Become a driver of organisational change
It remains vital that PR is the leader in organisational change. In last year’s trend analysis I advised new focus on becoming the centre of organisational communications, using a dynamic mix of social media. Now, itt is about time PR practitioners move themselves outside corporate communications and marketing. We need to get inside the head of our stakeholders by meeting with them and understanding their concerns, issues and any risks. PR professionals should be in the boardroom.
3. Online is key
PR people, like the media, need to understand the importance of their perspective to the growing field. The Internet empowers individuals, opinion-leaders and small social groups to expose “wrongs” of organisations and their key people. On-the-street journalism has helped this. PR people need to be ready to address rights, wrongs and most importantly – perceived wrongs - clearly, accurately and with timeliness.
Too often, PR professionals forget that the timeline is important. A timeline of linked stories can be used to determine links to the organisation and its brand, key personal profiles and what they stand for in the marketplace. “Links” and “hooks” are no longer static. The first piece of advice to my PR students is “so you have a media release… what other connecting stories can be developed from it and what is the social media mix in the planned timeline?” Scoping this out helps the PR practitioner go beyond the single, isolated article.
5. Have more ideas
Read widely, network continuously and, most importantly, listen to everything- no matter how absurd. Ideas cannot be copyrighted but they buy you a lot of power in linking your product, service or brand to the ultimate message; either directly or subliminally. With the advent of social media, the world is your oyster. Take such trends as the development of games in the training sector, the use of mobile phones for younger markets and the development of apps and e-books on subjects which were previously considered not for teenage reading.
The younger generation has become very fickle about what they want to know about and share. We are just waking up to the realisation that what makes a PR professional successful is the ability to bridge emerging trends with creative ideas. It’s in the hands of the PR professional to use these wisely, in the pursuit of getting the message across.