Bevilaqua: What's next for PR in 2015

Don't just think about the power of numbers, recognize the power of listening.

As a culture and an industry, we are smitten by what’s new and next. Why not? Newness feels great and often ushers in a spirit of optimism and opportunity. So as we wrap up the year, let’s take a look at trends that will shape our business in 2015, and for a moment, wear rose-colored glasses before the insanity of work kicks back in.

Tribes over ‘consumers’
The year ahead will bring a shift where we finally stop thinking about audiences as "consumers" and start acknowledging them as people. Living digitally has unlocked data that helps us better understand conversations that excite people around the world, the things they search for, and what ignites their passion. The deeper commonalities between people are not always defined by superficial demographics like age, sex, and income. Just look at the tribe of New York marathoners as a quick example. This beautifully diverse group spans multiple generations, cultures, and socioeconomic groups, but is still united by common goals and motivators. Identifying tribes versus looking at traditional demographics will help us challenge mass-marketing stereotypes and develop more exciting, human ideas.

Point-of-view storytelling
Due to the influx of data and competition for attention, the content bar in our culture is rising exponentially. For the past two years, the industry has had "shiny penny" syndrome -- a fascination with the tools and technology that help us share stories and content in new ways. But this year, the most interesting innovation in storytelling taught us an important lesson: the power of perspective. From National Public Radio’s breakout podcast Serial, which used multiple accounts to unpack the complicated story of a crime committed 15 years ago, to pop culture hits The Affair and Gone Girl, which tell stories through the eyes of two different characters, the most provocative stories of the year delivered richer narratives and engagement by forcing the audience to become an active participant in constructing the truth somewhere between these vantage points. Expect to see brands jump on this trend by publishing content through the eyes of different influencers and fans in the new year.

The rise of small data
As far as industry jargon goes, "big data" may be the winner of 2014. While big data continues to unlock information that can lead us to fresh findings, data and facts alone should not be confused with insight. By listening to conversations, culture, outliers, and influencers, we can also glean ethnographic insights that help predict what will blow up next. So as we move into 2015, don’t just think about the power of numbers, recognize the power of listening. 

Adrianna G. Bevilaqua is managing director for creative and strategic planning at DeVries Global.

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