The team at Think HQ share their thoughts on the next year in the rapidly changing world of Public Relations.
As busy communicators, it is often not until the holiday period when we get the chance to sit down and reflect on our work. For many, this means an evaluation of past and current campaign progress and of the lessons that we have learned – what activity worked and what activity didn’t. It’s also when we look to the New Year and consider what our focus will be, and what emerging technologies or trends we can take advantage of.
Here’s a few thoughts on what we might see emerge and grow in public relations for 2015.
1. A picture tells a thousand words, but videos can say even more
With the rise of photo-focused platforms like Instagram, SnapChat and Pinterest, we are seeing the power of images for public relations and marketing. If 2014 was the year we truly saw images take over the web, then 2015 is going to be the year of the video.
We’ve already had a preview of this phenomenon in 2014 with the emergence of the viral sensation that was the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” where videos spread like wildfire. Expect this style of campaign to be much more prolific in 2015. If you don’t already have an in-house video producer or connections with a great agency, now is the time to hire or build that relationship.
2. Content, content, content
Feeding the “content monster” will become an even bigger priority in 2015, as audiences continue to demand more from the brands and organisations with which they engage.
However, the good news is that creating great content doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Finding and sharing great content can be just as powerful as creating your own.
Plus, there are so many great tools online – most available for free or very low cost – that can help you to create the killer content you need to grab attention and drive engagement, both online and off. A great place to start is this article from earlier in year that details some of the best tools you can use to easily create appealing and engaging online content.
3. User generated content
It’s the trend that just won’t go away and we predict it will peak in 2015, as communicators continue to push the boundaries of user generated content.
The trick to taking advantage of this trend will be thinking beyond a one-off campaign or competition and designing a strategy that not only collects content from the user, but also encourages them to become an evangelist for your brand, company or organisation, long term. Undertakings like these are already having success overseas and we expect the popularity of such programs, which reward not just purchases but promotion and engagement, will grow in 2015.
4. Integration across communication channels
Demand for integration in communications and marketing – across channels and platforms – has been growing over the past few years, but we expect the pace will pick up significantly in 2015. As agencies continue to expand their services – into social media and beyond – and clients look for ways to consolidate their marketing and communications spend/activity, through strategic hiring and bringing outsourced services in-house.
Not only will the scope of what is (and isn’t) PR continue to change but we will continue to see the line blur between strategy, marketing, social media and public relations. This means that now is the perfect time to consider what new skills you might need to learn (or hires you might need to make) to best utilise this opportunity.
5. Brands look beyond bloggers for social influence
Once the hottest new thing in PR and marketing, the shine is now starting to wear off blogger outreach as bloggers and readers demand authenticity.
In particular, the last twelve months have seen a number of bloggers and other online influences leave their agency representation, decline sponsored posts and terminate brand relationships as they strive to take back control of their content, their brand and their voice.
As more bloggers move away from the traditional model of sponsored posts and “cash for comment” brand/blogger relationships, brands will be forced to look for new influencers to bring on board – or to consolidate their online activity by building genuine partnerships with bloggers with shared values. One outcome of this shift could be an increased emphasis on finding non-celebrity spokespeople who exert a huge influence online, such as Vloggers and other individuals with a large social media following that have not yet reached traditional online celebrity status. In particular, we predict that Vine will play an increasing role in this new influencer-native content hybrid, as the new platform creates a whole new group of online personalities.
As we look toward what will take over 2015, Think HQ wishes the IABC network the very best for the festive season and the new year.