What’s in Store for PR in 2018? A Trends Forecast

Trend forecasts in PR are seldom predictive in their entirety, but over the years, many of the forecasts eventually see the light of day in the PR practice. Interpolating from some of the predictions made in the last few years, let us see what we could look forward to this year.

  • Global Approach

Social Media penetration across the globe has led to a vastly amplified reach in terms of reputation and attention. Technology in particular, namely emerging tech such as IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Blockchain and Crypto-currency are global phenomenon and capture audiences beyond boundaries.  Not to mention the world is tuned in to developments in various countries with respect to Food, Healthcare, regulatory policies, environmental issues. Companies will need to communicate at all levels – domestic, regional and global, as an organisation’s reputation will eventually depend on this.

  • Further  Fragmentation in media and Loss of Trust

Fake news, biased opinions and the resulting loss of trust in most forms of media in India is a threat looming large on the fourth estate in these times. The prejudiced run in forming public opinion at large seems to be slowing down a bit, though we cannot say it is fully out of the picture yet. There have been and will be lot more of media outlets who will focus on even-handed reporting, rather than opinionated views and biases. We see this already in many forms of media, be it online, print or broadcast. Indian media is also being seen as a voice globally as exemplified by outlets like WION in recent times.

  • Better Persuasion with more integration

 “An idea can come from anywhere” is a statement that is very true in the creative world. While inspirations for communications campaigns can be drawn from several places and examples, it also holds true for the tools and methods of communications. PR has seen the adoption of Social Media, Digital and Influencer marketing in the last few years, and further integration is in the cards for the industry. The means of communication will always be evolving, and we have come a long way since the days of the town-criers and foot-messengers.

Campaigns will see more integration in a way that a mix of traditional and contemporary tools will be utilised to target – both at the micro-level and the macro-level.  Using single vehicles to communicate is passé. Campaigns will be designed at multiple levels and shaped to achieve desired outcomes.

  • The role of PR in other business objectives

PR being an incredible tool for marketing, investor relations, HR, and various other areas of any company; is largely still not being viewed as such. PR provides so much more value if looked at from the big picture. Apart from being an advisory role, it can be highly effective if multiple approaches are integrated actively, thereby providing a lot more tangible and intangible results.

  • Paid vs. Earned

With lines blurring between editorial content and advertising due to the evolving media landscape, PR had been mostly averse to paid placements. If the industry accepts this wholeheartedly, it could be an important change in shaping future communications approaches, and even how communicators are viewed. Already, agencies are utilising paid and sponsored content on newer platforms especially on Social Media and in influencer marketing, it remains to be seen how the industry will fully capitalise on paid content in MSM.

  • Creativity

This is a big one. Creativity in communications campaigns should see an uptick this year, as brands want to stand out in all of the noise.  A well planned and executed campaign will have a good mix of all elements especially with a strong focus on capturing the emotional and rational psyche of the audience. Smaller brands and entities can make good use of creative campaigns that can have a tendency to go viral despite having smaller budgets. This also goes to show how the growth of online media has democratised visibility and communications.

  • Wooing the Consumer

Not all of your consumers are the same, so why would your communications to them be?  We could see multi-pronged approaches with specific micro-campaigns to consumers that are divided into smaller groups according to demographic data available for marketing and communications. Highly personalised approaches can be taken with various levels of fragmentation and brands stand to derive higher ROI and sales in the bargain.

  • Social Media

Enough has been said about the use of Social Media platforms for PR (you can read some of our posts here), but turns out not all platforms are utilised by professionals, personalities or companies. 2018 could see this change for the better, with more and more CEOs, Ministers, Policy Makers, Bureaucrats and even Doctors being seen engaging with users on platforms like Reddit and Quora, directly interacting and helping form positive opinion with large segments of people. These platforms cut out the middlemen, and provide for direct interactions and conversations with people.

  • Influencing the Influencer

Influencer marketing will carry on expanding and reshaping in 2018. While we see some dubious practices taking place, some consolidation of this domain can be expected this year. As marketers and communicators identify and engage with more and more influencers across varied sectors, we can expect to see some longer-term associations in the making.

  • The Evolution of Thought Leadership

Thought leadership allows entities to participate meaningfully with consumers, create a sense of authority, and stand out in their respective industries. CxO’s of corporations are generally those who showcase their capabilities. But as content marketing becomes more and more varied, we can expect to see thought leaders from different fields and positions. Associates, mentors, heads of departments and even a regular employee can all give insights and share experiences to help the customer or help shape the brand identity.

About The Author:

Roshan Mohan, Founder-Director of Pepper Interactive, has nearly 15 years of experience in public relations, communications, event management, team building, learning & development and more, Roshan has worked with several international brands in retail, FMCG, lifestyle, sports, manufacturing, B2C, B2B, automotive and technology.

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