PR TRENDS FOR 2017
Like news, Public Relations is always evolving. Trends sometimes pop up, but are mostly part of a larger, more subtle shift that affects business, politics, and contemporary culture.
This rise of fake news across social media means organisations will have to do more to be heard, and more importantly to be believed. This means the information you supply needs to stand up to more rigorous scrutiny, as journalists find they have to dig deeper, and substantiate their stories to a greater degree to stand out from click bait. This isn’t to say the days of some media publishing releases verbatim are numbered, but there will be more pressure on respected news outlets to check sources. It won’t faze good communications professionals who are scrupulous about ensuring they deliver correct information. However, anyone who tries to dress up a dull corporate release with marketing claims such as ‘the top’, ‘the best’ etc should be prepared to drop the waffle or dish the facts.
AI is out there, like it or not, and it’s getting closer to taking over an increasing part of our everyday lives in PR. It’s not a question of whether this is good or bad, as tech disrupts every industry sooner or later. It’s a question of how you can embrace technological change to make what you do, or what you offer, better. We already have chatbots, and many automated marketing tools. We’ve moved from predictive text, to predictive searches; and predictive articles, or rather content generated by machines, is the next area of growth. Clearly a lot of this new content will be dreadful, but as the AI develops, there will soon be a point where a good programme may be better, or at least more reliable, than some journalists or PR execs. For PR teams with a capacity shortage, perhaps due to staff illness etc, AI might be able to help generate basic copy at a faster pace than a temporary member of staff that can then be edited by an experienced writer who understands the precise requirements.
Audience and Attention
With so many channels available to communicate through, defining and refining your audience so you use the right channel for them, becomes even more important.
Audiences will get more ruthless about tuning out and turning off info that is not relevant to them – rejecting ads on Facebook that they don’t like, rather than just ignoring them; unsubscribing from newsletters if the content doesn’t engage; and leaving channels when the critical mass of friends or peers is not there. Influencers may end up playing a greater role in transmitting messages from brands to followers; but they will need to go deeper, developing a genuine relationship with fewer brands, to ensure they have an effect.