Branding/Marketing/PR Thought Leadership

PR in 2018: What to expect

Written by the Editorial Team

So, what will be the key trends in PR over the next 12 months? Content, content, content. But we’re not just talking about creating content to showcase to audiences; rather, it will be interactive, personal, and responsive to the needs and wants of those audiences.

The pace of technological change has been such that most of us in PR have, if we’re honest, struggled to keep up with. But the one constant has been the appetite for great storytelling and the future success or failure of PR campaigns over the next year and beyond will be determined by the skill of those telling these stories in the first place.

Critical to successful storytelling are four key pillars that have underpinned all successful PR actions since time immemorial: relevance, valuable, informative/educational, and entertaining. Put another way, it is about the experience one party has with the other plus the addition of a fifth pillar – convenience. The way in which people wish to receive information and engage with brands is crucial, yet all too often overlooked.

Here we take a look at four of the key developments we see taking precedence in the world of PR in 2018 – Part II will be published next week.

1 Podcasts – in the ear of audiences

Contrary to popular wisdom, the ‘now’ generation is not the reserve of the millennial generation – it is the result of the way in which technology has made it possible to control what we do, when we do it.

In today’s fast-moving corporate environment, people want to do various things at the same time, and while great blogs and great online media hold a wealth of great content, they force the user to read it from a static position, either at the desk or on the daily commute.

Podcasts, such as our very own RECRUITER RADIO, tap into the knowledge-hungry, time-poor modern workforce. They enable users to schedule their social media posts for the day or send a quick email while listening to content that is adding value to their lives. Podcast are as easy as writing a blog and we see their use increasing this coming year.

2 Video – in the face of audiences

Five or more years ago, video was an extremely expensive media to use. The average cost to produce a single two-to-three-minute clip tended to start at around £1,500. Today, we now produce around three videos for the same price. This is a medium that will come into its own in 2018, and not just because the costs have come down.

Facebook recently predicted that 70-80% of all content posted on its platform will be video by 2020 thanks to increasingly sophisticated smartphone technology and the simple fact that video is what people want.

Not only that, because Google favours video content in its search results, it follows that this format becomes an important element of an organisation’s SEO strategy. We’re already working with a number of clients on their video projects for next year and we expect more of them will want to explore this extremely impactful medium.

3 Écouter – listening to audiences

For those of you who remember their GCSE French, écouter means to listen, and that is what organisations will be doing more of in 2018. The adoption of the 280-word character limit on Twitter is providing a rich source of data from which a greater understanding of customers opinion can be gained.

Indeed, research published in early December shows that Twitter users are big fans of the new long form posts. In fact, they are already generating double the number of retweets for short form tweets. Facebook provides another huge opportunity to engage with audiences and use its native planning tools to better understand their motivations.

There is, however, a flip side. Collating actionable insights is one thing, but social media in general is fighting the fake news battle and the challenge that the likes of Twitter and Facebook et al face will be sorting out what is real and what isn’t. This could, and indeed we see this happening already, see consumer trust in social media dissipate with mainstream and local media once again becoming the trusted sources they once were.

4 Business leaders will become vocal

For too long, senior executives have shied away from the social media limelight, but in 2018 they will find it hard to escape it. We expect to see a rise in the number of chief executives seeking to raise their profile not just in targeted media, but also on social media.

Part of the reason for this is generational. We’re of an age when many of the early millennials are beginning to enter the boardroom and occupy the top positions; they are digital natives and the notion of not having a powerful social media presence is rather alien to them. The other part of the reason is that today’s corporate environment is personal, not business.

The furore that followed a former Google (well, technically Alphabet) employee who was dismissed for writing and distributing a treatise that was widely condemned as sexist, pointed the way to a future in which business leaders need to step forward and engage directly with a variety of stakeholders, both internally and externally.

Part II will be published next week!