The PR industry has been undergoing significant changes. It can be difficult to prove a correlation between sales and PR, and industry professionals now need to fight harder to stay abreast of new trends, to ultimately maintain a strategic seat at the table. However, this has become increasingly difficult as the lines between public relations and integrated marketing blur, while the relationship between public relations and media relations becomes more distinct. At the same time, the media environment that we so heavily rely on is under constant scrutiny, with media outlets struggling to find new revenue streams while staying out of the fake news craze that has taken hold.
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As the evolution of what it means to be a PR professional continues, here are the five trends you need to watch in order to keep up in 2019.
1. PR will need to become a stronger strategic partner for clients: PR isn’t just about writing press releases and pitching news. We need to go deeper with our clients and become a trusted partner that they can rely on. PR professionals need to be idea generators, thinking outside of the box and looking at how – through traditional and non-traditional tactics – we can help move the needle for our clients.
This requires a deep understanding of clients’ business operations and goals, and an ability to apply this understanding in unique ways. It means providing counsel across the board and maintaining open and honest lines of communication. As companies inevitably look to reevaluate their budgets in 2019, and in many cases cut back, those PR professionals that can prove themselves as reliable partners will win.
2. PR will need to become a stronger strategic partner for media: We hear it from frustrated reporters all the time: “no more mass pitches” or “the next person to use an unnecessary buzzword in their subject line is getting blacklisted.” Especially as the media landscape shrinks, we cannot afford to make enemies with the press. Competition is increasing and it’s more important than ever that PR professionals become partners with the media.
We need to think more strategically about the stories we are trying to promote and how we can constantly add more value. Are there more assets we can provide? Is there a better angle we could be using? Ultimately, if we can use our media savvy to turn reporters into brand advocates, everyone benefits.
3. The media market is fragmenting: The media industry continues to face challenges that have caused an upheaval of the traditional media landscape. There have been many layoffs, large consolidations, confusion between earned editorial content and paid advertising (for better or for worse), and in some cases, a lack of trust from the public. All of this makes it difficult for PR professionals to navigate the media landscape. The ability to develop longstanding relationships with members of the press is going to be increasingly important moving forward.
4. New channels are emerging, and influencer marketing is growing: As the traditional media landscape changes, we’ll see new channels emerge and grow. Influencer marketing is just one example. While we’re all still hoping to see some level of standardization in the influencer space, it hasn’t limited anyone’s understanding of how important these people can be when it comes to advocating for your brand and helping reach new customers. But we’ll need to expand beyond influencers and start looking at channels like trade associations, content syndicators, native advertisers and more to expand the reach of our clients and their news.
5. PR professionals are becoming brand storytellers: If marketers are the voice of the customer, PR professionals are the voice of the brand. We need to master brand journalism to help our clients tell their own stories better. Again, this is especially important as the traditional media landscape shifts and contributor networks grow. The first step will be to have a clear understanding of our client’s message. Then, we’ll need to tell that story in a way that resonates with the brand’s customers.
There you have it – your top five PR trends for 2019. We may have a rocky road ahead, but if we stick together and evolve our skills with the changing industry, we’ll come out on top!