Remember the Magic 8 Ball fad? Ask it a question, give it a shake and wait for the prophetic truth to appear. Rather than offer you a year-end list of all the trends from 2013, let’s play some Magic 8 Ball to see what trends will help shape the PR and social media industries next year.
1. Will data be more important than ever? Answer: Absolutely. Get to mining. In 2014, more PR and marketing professionals will embrace more numbers as well as words. Data analysis is something companies are expected to spend more time and money on. This means PR pros and social media experts will be offering precise info as to which audiences may be using the different types of information they’re sending out – and exactly where those messages should go for best impact.
2. Should we pay special attention to a brand’s top social media champions? Answer: You bet. When you’re doing something right, people talk about it. With social media, brands now have an outlet to boost that public image through supporters. If you know who these consumers are for your company, make an effort in 2014 to reach out and treat them extra special. Consumers appreciate the connection and pay you back with positive online activity, whether it’s a blurb on Facebook or a blog. Do this within an established strategy created by a smart PR firm, and have a plan for handling online reputation crisis moments before they occur.
3. Will having a more complete editorial calendar be important? Answer: Definitely. 2014 will be the year brands start planning more intensely. Instead of planning a month ahead, entire calendars will be filled. This strategy is already working for companies that work hard on their content – what they will share and how they’ll share it is built out several months ahead. The content, however, must be original, valuable and intriguing. It can include online news campaigns, brand management tactics and other tools across several platforms: blogs, news releases, product reviews, videos and targeted social media posts, to name a few. Keep it based around your most important messages with expert PR guidance to see more results.
4. Will successful companies shift some brand control to what their audiences are up to? Answer: You guessed it. A couple of major conferences in 2013 included speakers with themes related to giving up control of your brand to find success. The thought was that you don’t own your brand any more than your fans and everyday consumers own it. (I've been preaching this for nearly a decade.)
Instead, the people who use your brand are able to create content related to it, from social media posts on Twitter to videos on Instagram or Vine, etc. This year, instead of focusing on content that is solely about your brand, think about creating content that is about your fan base. This gives your fans the ammunition they need to promote your brand in the way you’d like it done. This may mean giving some messaging freedom to your best consumers so that they can carry some of your messages for you.
5. Should I build earned news this year for PR, or should I be building overall credibility? Answer: Both, but think really hard about credibility. Credibility comes through all your PR efforts and all your messages working at once to build relevance and trust. This will matter more in 2014, and your audience champions can help. Content – be it news, blogs, videos, posts or anything else – should be useful to help boost credibility. Spending more for expert guidance can also help. Some experts in the public relations and marketing industries believe marketing teams will spend $135 billion on digital marketing collateral in 2014. They also foresee social media marketing budgets doubling.
6. Will we stay in or tear down our work silos between PR, advertising and marketing? Answer: Start tearing down. In 2014, more than ever, top strategies that impact companies’ successes will mean utilizing PR tools like earned news, reputation management, content marketing and social media campaigns side-by-side with other departments. One way to help create this environment is to bring everyone to the table – including your public relations advisors/public relations company – when it comes to planning in advance your message calendar for the year. Following trends, top companies will also do this alongside data research and with the input of their audience champions. Because PR pros maintain strong relationships with the media throughout the year, they’re naturally good at getting the most from this cross-discipline work environment.
A final question: What about PR as we know it? Answer: Smart PR is the driving force behind all these efforts in 2014. You absolutely need the direction of an expert to select, craft and carry out the quality messages that matter most – and to keep them focused on the platforms that give you the best results. Everything from crisis management to reputation management and managing shifts in consumer awareness can come through smart PR.
Axia Public Relations will be following all the trends in 2014 and setting a few of its own. We have produced award-winning PR campaigns for companies needing help with their corporate communications, company naming and branding, crisis communications management, social media planning and special projects. The Magic 8 Ball says contact us today for a clear vision in 2014.
– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works! Global, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon. Connect with Jason at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.