With the landscape of communications becoming more focused on social media and less on traditional media disciplines, there is little doubt that the future of public relations will continue to transform and evolve. Axia PR put together a list of its top predictions for the direction public relations will take in 2015.
1. PR will become more competitive and rely more often on “earned influence.” To compete in today’s digital age, where everyone is inundated with information, PR professionals must be both savvy in crafting proper news stories and creative in placing them. The news must be fresh, warranted and preferably, groundbreaking in order to earn media play.
PR is no longer just about media coverage. Today it’s about engagement and earned influence — positive perception created across all media disciplines, including digital. To engage the public, PR needs to be primarily content-driven. Most marketing strategies are shifting to a pay-for-play model, so PR professionals should continue to seek out useful, optimized content that attracts and engages audiences.
2. The public will increasingly trust social media and digital communities as sound sources. Communications mediums are shifting, which means that PR professionals must become experts in social media and, at the same time, educators on how to integrate both traditional and new forms of media. More than ever before, the public looks to the transparency of digital environments to glean information and express opinions. Whether through reviews on Yelp, hashtags on Twitter or videos on YouTube, brands are being discussed more easily and freely within the public digital realm. Businesses must manage, analyze, support and communicate within these environments as well.
3. Business-to-business companies will increase focus on their digital reputations. The surge of blogs and review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc. means that every business must manage its reputation in a completely new way. One negative tweet or post can cause catastrophic damage in minutes. B2B companies must now consider what business-to-consumer companies have been grappling with for years. Public relations professionals are in a position to educate B2B clients about online reputation management and build PR plans to reduce potential pitfalls.
4. The value of PR will be quantified more often through accurate and detailed PR measurement. In the past, an extensive clip book of news articles proved to a client how valuable a PR campaign was. In today’s digital world, measuring PR value, campaign traction, market position and mindset shifts can be vague and inconclusive when compared to numbers-based facts such as increases in sales, stock value or number of collected articles. PR agencies must demonstrate their value to clients through an established method for proving a return on investment services. Measurement data will help clients understand mindsets, the digital journey (from interest to purchase) and engagement preferences.
5. Crisis plans will continue to be paramount. In 2015, crises will happen and, most often, unexpectedly. Last year, countless companies endured significant hits to their brands and reputations, while spinning their wheels amid intense media scrutiny. PR firms that concentrate on crisis PR will likely see an increase in demand for their services. PR staffs will more aggressively counsel their clients to create and frequently review crisis plans. Everyone should have a crisis communications plan in place.
The media landscape is always evolving. Public relations continues to be redefined in this new technologically social age. In 2015, and going forward, it is essential that PR professionals be experts in navigating emerging communications dimensions.
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