6 PR Trends to Watch in 2014/5

The shifting marketing landscape and its effect on content creation and media proliferation all point to one fundamental truth: a smaller percentage of people will really understand how best to fit it all together to maximise sales and opportunities to do better business.

1. Traditional media accelerates its decline. Some media brands will figure out that their new role in the media landscape is not that of provider of information, but of curator and qualifier. A few brands have already figured this out, that what they dispense is not information, but credibility.

On the flip side of this trend, brand journalism and brand media will increase proportionally as journalists go in-house at forward-thinking companies. Brand managers are waking up and realizing that an audience-centric mindset will power their advertising and marketing efforts, so expect much more brand journalism and jobs as ‘content manager’ in the year to come.

2. Analytics will improve to the point where we can make valid, repeatable estimates of the ROI of X, where X is PR, marketing, social media, or the channel/tactic of choice. Get accessibility and visibility into all data sources.
Companies and brands that have silos between different departments, different agencies, and different functions will face ever stiffer challenges from competitors who are smarter with their data and the insights they derive from it.

3. The Internetisation of Things will get more real: the crossover of digital elements into real life. It ranges from Google Glass to 3D printing. The early adopters are playing with them, as happened with podcasting in 2006. 2014 and 2015 will see more adoption of the Internetisation of Things as costs decrease and accessibility increases.

For businesses, this means getting more creative and having tools that enable greater creativity in what you can produce, from physical promotional items to augmented reality that’s more broadly accessible. It also enables more of what

Jeremiah Owyang calls the collaborative economy; as manufacturing technology is democratized, more people can make more things directly, skipping corporate production for small batches and custom designs. Systems like Google Glass and wearable technology further democratize media and create even more media fragmentation, which means PR professionals will be dealing with increasingly diverse audiences and influencers.

4. As traditional media either evolves or dies, the traditional media-relations-only model of PR will evolve or die with it. Public relations work will transform more into earned, owned, and paid media generation.

PR professionals should expect to see themselves blogging, doing content creation and content marketing, managing paid media campaigns, managing social media and mobile media channels, working with media purchases and display advertising, working extensively with brand journalists, helping inform search marketing, and generally going where the audiences are. Most important, PR professionals will need to focus on having an audience, having conversations with audiences, and having that audience be portable among different forms of media.

5. The backlash against content marketing will get louder as more companies make really bad content and decide that the tactic doesn’t work (rather than realize they’re bad at it). Content marketing as a discipline will be viewed as social media is today (essential but filled with snake oil salesmen) and as SEO was in the past (essential but filled with snake oil salesmen).

Despite the backlash, PR and marketing professionals who can master the tactic will thrive, and will be in high demand, but the bar will continue to get higher and higher for what constitutes great content. All the brand journalists operating in-house will need ever-increasing supplies of great content.

6. The talent race will be tougher than ever. Creative skills and analytics skills will be in greater demand than ever, with a talent pool that’s smaller than ever (especially on the creative side).

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