Top Public Relations Trends: Introduction

If there’s one theme that unifies all the trends occurring within the communications and public relations world, it’s acceleration. The world as a whole is moving faster than ever. Disruption happens to industries measured in weeks and months rather than years or epochs.

Thanks to technologies like cloud computing, ubiquitous Internet access, mobile devices, and machine learning, the pace of change will only increase. Disruption of industry stalwarts is inevitable. Companies at their apogee today may find themselves at their perigee within months.

Here are some of the key communications trends we’re tracking at SHIFT:

PR mega-trends

Part 1: Earned Media

Press Releases Continue Their Slow Demise

The venerable press release continues its decline into irrelevancy. While companies may be publishing more of these than ever, their impact continues to lessen every year.

Hyper-Segmentation of News Means Hyper-Segmentation of PR

Society and social media have created hyper-focused segmentation of the audience. PR must adapt to realize that no one audience exists any longer; brands and clients instead address dozens or hundreds of micro-audiences in their communications.

Reputation Is Brand

The nature of a perpetually-online world means radical transparency, which in turn means disastrous reputational damage is a tap of a video button on a smartphone away.

Part 2: Owned Media

PR Professionals Blindsided by Rich Media

Media monitoring has traditionally been focused on digesting and interpreting text. As the dominant form of communication becomes rich – meaning audio and video – the PR profession is at serious risk of missing key trends if tools and vendors fail to adapt.

Content Avalanche Keeps Growing Bigger

Content shock is about to exponentially explode. How will PR adapt to a world in which 10 times the content created today will be created in the near future?

Part 3: Paid Media

More Paywalls Go Up

Traditional news media is struggling to survive, hemorrhaging cash. To compensate, more walls will go up, making media less visible to PR professionals and their audiences. Soon advertising may be the only way to reach some select audiences.

AI-Powered Personalization of Advertising

Advertising has been quick to adopt artificial intelligence, but we’ve only touched the tip of a massive iceberg. As AI technology improves, reaching individuals at scale will be possible, and PR practitioners must adapt their integrated strategies to maximize success.

Part 4: Search Marketing

Advanced PR Practitioners Embrace AI Fully

The most advanced PR practitioners will embrace AI technologies and incorporate them into day-to-day work in order to survive and succeed. Laggards will quickly reach obsolescence.

SEO and PR Merge In Some Firms

The difference between SEO and PR continues to blur as more SEO practitioners realize the need for human storytelling, and more PR practitioners quantify their work in SEO terms. This trend will only accelerate as search engines become ever more intelligent.

Part 5: Social Media

Influencer Marketing Train Keeps Picking Up Speed

Influencer marketing shows no sign of diminishment despite questionable ROI. Influencer marketing methods and measurement will improve radically as new, advanced measurement methodologies such as neural network-powered attribution become more available. These tools will help PR practitioners more quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Branded Organic Social Media Becomes Meaningless

Continuing the ongoing trend, brands’ reach on major social networks will decline further until brands will be posting to no one. Services like Facebook are already pay-to-play for the majority of brands, and these networks show no inclination to help brands who don’t pay.

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