With every new year there are plenty of changes and trends in the business world and the public relations industry is no different. The general definition of public relations remains the same – the strategic communication process, which builds mutually beneficial relationships between companies and their publics – but the means by which we develop those relationships is dynamic.
Here are some of the predicted trends in public relations this year:
1. Integrated campaigns. Gone are the days when sending a simple press release to the print media was enough to get attention to your cause or brand. With the world attached to their smartphones, tablets and social media platforms, public relations campaigns need to utilize these new media forms of communication. Press releases remain a staple of the publicists’ toolkit, but with the hammer you need the nails to hang your news across search engines, social and traditional media where consumers are researching, shopping and acquiring their products and services.
2. More personal storytelling. You have an extremely short amount of time to grab your followers’ attention and people will make a purchase or support a cause that resonates with them personally. In sales, you always hear that people will buy from those they know, like and trust, so carry that over to your public relations campaigns. Stating statistics may cause your audience’s eyes to glaze over, but telling a story brings some humanity to your cause or brand. The more people can relate to your story, the more likely they will support you.
3. Content marketing. On the web, the mantra “Content is King” has definitely taken hold among the business community, but there is a slew of low-quality and over-curated blog posts and web pages everywhere online. As a result, Google keeps hitting us with stringent updates to their algorithms. As such, the mantra for 2014 adds an adjective: “Great Content is King.” Those organizations who continue to produce good, relevant information that their prospects find valuable and useful will continue to gain followers. But don’t be fooled into thinking that written content is all that matters. Supplementing copy with rich media, such as videos and graphics, is statistically proven to drive higher engagement and a slight edge in search ranking.
4. Improved analytics and data. Return on Investment (ROI) is important to any business and the ways of tracking and measuring your public relations efforts are improving by leaps and bounds. It’s much easier to obtain real-time data using social media metrics and other measuring tools so you can quickly make changes to a campaign if you’re not seeing the desired results. For each PR tactic used, you should review the number of visitors to your website, leads generated from content and email marketing and conversions through the sales process. Using free analytics supplied by Google is a perfect way to get started.
In the end, your PR campaigns are only limited by your creativity. There are no hard and fast rules (other than to portray your clients/brands professionally), so use a mix of contemporary and traditional tactics to reach AND engage your audience with your unique story.