In recent years, the public relations industry has evolved tremendously. As communications have evolved from more traditional press to non-traditional, with the likes of social media and digital increasing market share in recent years, so too must public relations.
Nowadays, the successes of PR lies within its ability to transition with the changing time.
Gone are the days of a traditional press release. Now, PR agencies seek out journalists to pitch the story and get their content published on websites their audience engages with. It is also more commonplace for PR to collaborate with influencers who can share their press releases through social.
All of these evolutionary trends will have an impact in a company’s approach to content development and training. Since PR and content marketing share similar values (sharing ideas, content outreach, etc.), the shifting trends in PR will impact content marketing efforts.
Below are five PR trends that are redefining the industry and will shape the future of PR.
1. Adaptation to the modern buyer
The modern buyer is far removed from the historical buyer’s journey. No longer is a buyer’s journey a linear path and no longer is attention to action the trend. Rather, a modern buyer goes through various phases of the ‘buyer’s journey’. Modern buyers can and will enter and exit through various points of the purchase funnel.
PR agencies must adapt to the modern buyer. This means considering the entire spectrum to attract, convert, and close. The traditional structures of mass pitches no longer work. PR firms must amplify their content with personalized strategies.
This involves going beyond the traditional communication methods for engagement. Consider reaching out to journalists via social media and adding a personal touch to your email’s subject line, use data-driven content to amplify your message to targeted audiences, infographics and white papers will play a major role organizing your distribution efforts.
2. Social media publishing outlets
Social media is a multi-layered platform that public relations can leverage to push news and content out to their audience members.
Social shares are one of the most common ways to distribute content. Social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have evolved beyond simply being a platform for sharing links to traditional digital outlets. Rather, they’ve become their own publishing houses.
Facebook now features Instant Articles and Instagram allows users to instantly view content with a simple swipe. And doing all of this without ever leaving their social app.
Visual storytelling is also gaining traction as important content marketing tools for PR campaigns. Live video streaming has exploded in recent years, with Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram all offering live video streams. A report published by the Live Stream team showed 80% of brand audiences would rather watch a live video than read a blog.
3. Importance of SEO
With PR campaigns shifting focus from selling to telling stories that drive engagement, it stands to reason that SEO will play a major factor in redefining the public relations domain. As PR is all about content, SEO will play a role in delivering that content to its targeted audiences.
Google’s Penguin algorithm penalizes what is known as black-hat SEO strategies, aggressive tactics that violate search engine’s terms of service. Fluency in SEO basics becomes a necessary skill within a PR professional’s remit.
With data playing a crucial role in content marketing, knowledge in SEO will generate certain advantages.
SEO is a data-driven strategy. PR may excel in generating engaging content, but at times, can be difficult to measure. Content that’s optimized with SEO strategies will generate key metrics necessary to amplify and distribute relevant content.
4. Inclusion of Artificial Intelligence
Advancements in technology will continue to improve and disrupt traditional media strategies, including public relations.
For instance, artificial intelligence has been paving the way in automating aspects of PR. Functions such as media monitoring, basic research, and predictive analytics can now be handled by AI. PR professionals and agencies who can build on the successes of AI and its ability to simplify mundane processes will have a decided advantage over their competitors.
Chatbots (another form of artificial intelligence) can assist in increasing a campaign’s PR performance. They can reduce the manual processes of press releases by automating the process and improving customer satisfaction via customer service inquiries.
5. Going mobile
One of the most important trends in today’s digital market is the shift of stationary internet from the early 2000s to “on the go” connections. Indeed, smartphone penetration is increasing, with smartphone users are predicted to grow to around 2.5 billion in 2019.
In America, smartphone penetration is at 95%, with a vast majority of Americans across major demographic groups owning a cellphone. This makes the mobile front a vital avenue for content consumption.
With smaller displays comparative to desktops, content must be optimized to ensure a seamless user journey from social apps to mobile-friendly sites. This will require strategic content placement, from email campaigns to landing pages. PR professionals, in-house teams, and agencies who implement mobile-first strategies and concise content will have a definitive advantage.
Despite the increasing shift from traditional PR strategies, companies will still require brand awareness, media coverage, and audience engagement. These public relations focused objectives are simply evolving into new digital forms. It’s a dramatic evolution, but one that necessitates more relevancy in a digital setting. Undoubtedly, all of the upcoming PR trends and changes will drive significant changes in content development and training as well.
Hisham Wyne is an award-winning copywriter, brand consultant and content creator based in Dubai. He has over a decade’s experience in helping brands get their messages right. From crisp web copy and zippy brochures to in-depth company profiles and analytical annual reports, Hisham makes words work for you – so you can sell better, gain visibility, and give your brand a unique voice.