It’s hard to believe that 2017 has come and gone. Between “fake news,” Oscar mix-ups, and an adorably blundered BBC interview, it was a roller coaster of entertainment (at least that’s what many of us are choosing to remember over the countless negative stories). Now we turn to the new year and think about impending industry evolutions and how to get ahead of them.
From a B2C public relations perspective, here are two trends that stand out as attention-worthy: integration across the board and the ability to take a stand.
I predict this will be the theme of the year when it comes to how we do our jobs. With editorial staffs evolving and new brands popping up every day, the media have a constant barrage of news, trends and pitches coming their way, let’s remind ourselves about the relationship aspect of media relations while the rest of the world attempts autonomy. We need to integrate consumer clients into trending conversations, valuable insights into our pitches and data into how we’re benchmarking best practices and measuring success. While we as an industry have begun to implement these, they are now essential to our daily responsibilities – integral, if you will.
When ideating larger campaigns, we will need to think more than ever about creating an integrated experience. In 2017 we saw consumers gravitate toward the experiential with a desire to make unique memories – and document them all on social media, of course. Begin by understanding the types of experiences your audience relates to and bring them to life by integrating your product and messages with a relevant activity or authentic moment in time. One of my favorite examples from this past fall was Uniqlo’s partnership with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts merging fashion, art and hands-on activities seamlessly (pun definitely intended).
Taking a Stand
With all the turmoil disrupting society, there are endless causes and organizations deserving of support – and brands should absolutely continue to have their backs through CSR programs and the donation of funds and time. However, in 2018 brands will be challenged by their consumers to take a stand on issues and, unfortunately, inevitable tragedies – without expecting anything in return. After all, when we as individuals give back we (hopefully) do so out of the goodness of our hearts, not for public recognition. So why should brands, who have more influence and power to propel change, be any different?
That said, brands cannot be expected to respond to every issue. They will need to be selective in taking a stand when it makes the most sense based on their own mission and when they can make the strongest difference. For example, Patagonia took a strong stand against the reduction of land in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Not only were the company and its employees passionate about this, but so were its dedicated customers and followers, leading to viral traction – and engagement – on social and traditional media. The keys to creating such power-filled moments in 2018 will be authenticity and action.
Overall, as we launch into 2018 we can expect to see B2C brands taking consumer relationships to the next level through meaningful moments and for those brands to be held to higher standards than ever. As PR professionals we should be ready to guide our clients through these ever-changing waters by being more mindful and objective consumers ourselves.