2018 oversaw the continued evolution of what it is to be a PR professional, as it became more influenced by digital elements, social media and marketing.
1. PR assumes a partner role
PR will move to a position where it is a strategic partner to stakeholders. Instead of pitching press releases, PR will become a content partner for the media identifying opportunities for news stories and providing excellent visual assets they can use.
Instead of pitching influencers, PR will attract and retain loyal advocates for the brand. That can be achieved by halting being a press release machine and becoming a true content partner to the media, by also seeking true brand advocates rather than only influencers.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI) will impact how PR is done
One of the biggest changes in 2019 is AI making an impact on what public relations pros do and how they do it. Many of the more mundane tasks PR practitioners do can be automated, which makes them good candidates for AI.
While AI in PR is in its infancy, there are areas like influencer marketing in which AI can already save time for PR pros. PR pros can discover ways to use artificial intelligence in their public relations strategy while keeping their brand relevant.
3. A sharper distinction between public relations and media relations
2019 the year that PR pros finally realise that public relations and media relations are different activities. Public relations simply means communicating with your constituents and there are so many amazing ways to do that directly by creating great content.
Media relations — working with journalists to tell a story — is a subset of public relations but is what most PR people focus on, limiting their reach. PR pros should not limit their PR strategy to media relations – instead, they should create a full and comprehensive PR strategy. Create great content that tells a story, not just for the media, but for your constituents.
4. Storytelling and relationship building become priorities
The two most important skills for a PR professional – storytelling and relationship building – haven’t changed. But the ways those skills are being deployed is changing.
Beyond the media and even industry influencers, PR pros will expand the audiences they work with to include a broader set of partners: vertical websites, content syndicators, complimentary product vendors, trade associations, and others who can help bring their stories to a wider audience.
5. Fake news frenzy escalates
Another powerful trend that has continued to grow is that of fake news. What started a few years ago as a theory has blown into an all-out war against news media outlets — and journalists are definitely feeling the heat. They are effectively in a fight to win back the trust of their audience. This has rippling effects on the PR industry.
As PR pros prepare campaigns, content, and even press releases, they must be alert to any potential threats to their brand’s reputation. What they can do is to recognise the pressure that journalists are under and be specific in terms of quotes, citing all sources, and being hyper-vigilant when it comes to figures and statistics.
If there’s any constant among these trends, it’s that PR continues to evolve. If you’re not changing along with the industry, you’ll be left on the sidelines, a relic of the PR that was. But with the right insights and tools, you can stay on top of your game. These trends will put you on the right path for a successful PR 2019.