Have you ever heard the saying that everything is subject to change? We believe that! We’ve seen that with our clients and, yes, the art and science of public relations are also subject to change.
New and advanced technology, changes in consumer behaviour and changes in how we access information play a big role.
With the media landscape constantly changing, PR professionals are not only expected to keep up with the wave of change and the latest trends, but are also required to understand how to react to the trends to get the most out of their public relations efforts.
Where are we in terms of trends?
We need to work with our clients to understand what they want to communicate and why their message is important to their audience, to make it believable and to use the right tools and platforms to reach their target market.
For this reason, we at Flow Communications keep abreast of PR trends and this has kept us at the top of our game, year after year.
These trends include:
Content is king, but it must work harder
You can’t dump information on your audience without making it easy for them to digest it quickly and effectively. So our duty as PR professionals is to really think creatively and strategically about how to make content consumable. We must ensure that one piece of content is able to do the work that five would have done in the past. For example, a media release must live in the media, on a website, on the radio, on social media and in a newsletter.
Big brands set agendas
If brands want to be memorable, they must stand for something. Brands are increasingly leading conversations that support a cause rather than just selling a product. This entrenches the defining spirit of the times we live in – consumers want more. Take, for example, the recent #MeToo-inspired Gillette campaign.
It’s not about the product – it’s about the brand values
Trust us, there are far fewer unique products than brands would love to believe! As PR practitioners, we need to look at the brand promise and its values to ensure we communicate the correct message. Consumers want to buy into the values of the brands they support.
Shifting from macro- to micro-influencers
As a matter of “authenticity”, we’re seeing a shift from macro- to micro-influencers. What is credible is what the man or woman living in your street tells you. The person next door is not promoting your brand because they are paid to do so, they promote your brand because it’s good, authentic and credible.
Print media are no longer in the lead
Print publications no longer routinely break the news. Digital channels, including social media, have largely taken over that platform. By the time a story is published in a print newspaper or magazine, an in-depth interview is likely to already have been broadcast or published online. Gone are the days where we see print media as the major news source – social and digital media are the newsrooms of our modern age. Radio, television and even Netflix are also available on demand.
Good ideas need to be channel-agnostic
While thinking about a PR idea, one needs to ask the question, “Can this idea work on television, on digital platforms, or even on social media?”. When PR practitioners submit ideas to their clients, they need to think about more than just traditional media or one channel. They need to always take into account the different platforms of communications out there, as different people consume information differently.
It’s important to reach your audience at the right time
People engage with a number of communications touchpoints daily, including reading a newspaper, listening to the radio and being on social media. PR professionals need to be conscious of all of these touchpoints and consider how to reach the desired audience at the right time.
The lines between owned, earned and paid media are becoming blurred
Podcasts and social media are contributing to the lines between paid, earned, owned and shared media becoming increasingly blurred. It is also key to bear in mind that everything nowadays is customised and bespoke, including how news and information are received.
Measurements are changing
Death by advertising value equivalent. Yes, we said it! AVE is now a thing of the past. What’s key to PR measurement is how many people we have reached and how many conversations we have started through our communications efforts. Think of quantitative versus qualitative measurements.
Fake news undermines the credibility of everything
Fake news (as opposed to the truth) is the biggest ethical threat to the PR industry.
It’s still about telling stories – stories that resonate
Our stories need to spark imagination out there. It’s best to give readers a holistic experience. Pictures enhance copy; recorded interviews give authenticity to the stories, while statistics validate claims. It is time to offer more than just words.
A strategy is integral, not an add-on
A sound strategy is key to effective communication. It defines the positioning statement and generates key messages for the brand. The strategy creates a pathway into serving the brand and not the personnel employed by the company.
“Public relations is no longer about getting good stories published in the print media or just great interviews, it is truly evolving to engaging the audience of each brand and building a rapport with that community for the benefit of the brand,” says Flow Communications PR director Chuma Siswana.
“These trends form the pillar of our communications work for various clients and continue to ensure that we push the boundaries.”