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Top Communications Trends Impacting PR in 2020

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Rima MasubuchiDirector
Communications Week New York

Earlier this month, we had the honor of representing PAN Communications at the kickoff event for Communications Week New York, a week-long series of events addressing this year’s theme of Value. The event, consisting of multiple panel discussions, connected PR and marketing professionals with industry experts who provided different perspectives on the value of PR, media and marketing.

The keynote Q&A featured Michael O’Brien, President of Client Experience at Ketchum, who discussed the state of the modern client counseling process and the valuable role PR practitioners play in helping clients meet their business objectives. Panel discussions included a variety of PR and media experts from all across the industry, including Esther-Mireya Tejeda,  SVP and Head of Corporate Communications, Entercom; Annie Granatstein, Head of The Washington Post’s WP BrandStudio; Natalie Vegel, Director of Communications, GIPHY; and  Katherine Tooley, SVP of Experiential, Refinery29.

Here are some of the key industry insights we took away from the event:

  • Analytics and redefining measurement metrics for PR: As business leaders increasingly look to PR activities to drive sales revenue and growth, there’s an increased emphasis on defining qualitative metrics to measure the value of PR and direct attribution to sales/conversion. The PR industry will need to identify the most impactful metrics to measure and create standardized qualitative measurement KPIs. Beyond numbers, it’s important that we’re able to identify “How many times was the story told in the right way?” to determine if our efforts are moving the needle.
  • Is Paid the new Earned?: As media companies consolidate and journalists become scarce, paid media is becoming a new focus. PR and marketing are also becoming more integrated as a result of this change, and we can expect them to continue moving closer into each other’s spaces. While paid engagements continue to be on the rise with very targeted content, earned carries more trust with consumers and will continue well into the future.
  • What’s Next for the Industry: With technology disrupting how we communicate with each other and the volatility of political and economic forces, it’s more crucial than ever for organizations to define their voice and message as well as decide who their audience is. We will leverage technology such as AI and using data to move from descriptive to predictive counsel.

Conversations also focused on how PR practitioners can leverage non-traditional – and even “old school” – channels to reach new audiences:

  • Re-emergence of audio: With the introduction of smart speakers and acceleration of streaming – audio is becoming an important outlet for engaging consumers. As audio holds a unique ability to engage users on an emotional level through active listening, brands are eager to adopt these forms of communication. The industry is responding by putting increasing emphasis on working toward standard metrics for analyzing listenership.
  • Non-traditional content channels: New channels such as TikTok, Snapchat and other social platforms are proving to be valuable outlets for engagement with younger audiences and niche markets – providing an opportunity for brands to take a risk and provide more entertaining, timely content.
  • Experiential Marketing: Despite the acceleration of digital engagements, brands can make a lasting impact in terms of visibility and brand recognition through experiential and event marketing including pop-ups or unique brand activations.

In today’s ever changing communications landscape, PR agencies are no longer a one-stop shop. As we look to 2020 and beyond, we must remember to always have a willingness to adapt, evolve and learn from each other in order to constantly evolve and stay ahead of the curve.

An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.