Top 5 PR + Social Trends of 2019
Half the stress of being a professional in any type of marketing, public relations or external communications role is keeping up with all of the change. Whether it’s the tactics, the tools, the targets and even the tricks of the trade – we are living in a world where they are constantly evolving. I’ve spent the better part of 2019 examining how these changes will impact my clients in 2020 and beyond and have been working on plans and programs that reflect these shifts.
While I thought I’d share my assessment, this is by no means a complete list and it may not even be the top trends you are seeing in your industry or from your unique position or role. If that’s the case, please drop into the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @ashleydano so everyone can benefit from a variety of perspectives.
- It’s harder than ever to land a successful pitch – but you should still take the time.
A combination of a lot of brands and PR people trying to get the attention of a shrinking group of writers and journalists and a LOT of poorly written pitches out there makes turning your pitch into a story even less likely these days. But we shouldn’t resort to mass mailings or blast pitches. The tactic that still works more than anything? Well-timed, customized and thoughtful emails. It takes resources, smarts and effort but this is one area of PR that automation will not solve any time soon.
- Social media is becoming more user-centric than ever.
When businesses started using social, platforms like Facebook were wide open – i.e. sharing lots of data with companies willing to shell out money for paid campaigns, prioritizing Page content, letting publishers take over the platform to share their stories and news. Not anymore. If you dig into the algorithms for Instagram or Facebook, you’ll see that it’s more user-focused than ever. Platforms want users to stay put, having conversations and commenting and sharing without ever clicking away. So, what does that mean? It means engagement is King. You must comment, encourage dialogue and avoid *only* posting external links as a content strategy.
- The types of content that deliver real ROI is shifting.
Content should still play a big role in your marketing and PR and developing graphics, blogs, and articles are still useful to fill the pipeline, but if your strategy doesn’t include audio and video in short digestible chunks, you’re going to lose eyeballs and mindshare. Platforms like Instagram with 15-second stories and snippet videos are proving that the future of content is visual, succinct and accessible. Meaning videos should always have captions as you can assume many viewers will view in a spot where they can’t turn their audio on (on the subway, at work, in bed, in line at the store, etc.)
- If you want to be in the news, sometimes you have to write the news.Across almost every industry, journalism jobs continue to disappear, and most pubs have a shrinking staff. Especially if you (or your client) are talking to B2B / industry-based niche outlets (though it’s not exclusive to only B2B), you should expect that some of your pitches will turn into requests to write the piece yourself. This goes back to the content marketing piece in #3 — having a blog on your own website is still helpful, but you’re better off pouring efforts into contributed articles. These must be less focused on YOU and products/services you offer and more focused on trends and unique insights in your area of expertise. You will probably be ghostwriting many of these, but expect your PR strategy to include time for writing the types of articles that were once penned by a staff writer or an editor. This is ultimately an opportunity for you or your client to be a thought leader but it is time-consuming, so plan accordingly.
- The lines between PR, traditional marketing, digital marketing, social media, content marketing, etc have never been blurrier – in fact, they may be altogether erased.
Everything is part of the funnel and it’s incredibly important to collaborate consistently with your marketing and business development teams on their goals. While you might have primary goals of getting your brand or client’s brand in the news, you should be focusing efforts of inclusion in places that are going to bring stakeholders to the table. So many companies are still focused on being in the big, shiny outlets like Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Techcrunch or the New York Times. Don’t get me wrong those are all still worthwhile, but if your goal is to talk to chief security officers and decision-makers buying security solutions for higher education campuses, you need to read what they read, and then pitch there. Sure, the larger publications are read across markets, but the more targeted the efforts the more impactful it will be on the sales/biz dev pipeline.
This isn’t exhaustive by any means and I’m sure others at Caster would give you different examples. What I know for sure is that PR today is dynamic and constantly evolving – which means as pros in the space, we must do the same.