PR predictions for 2003

Fred Haberman, president, Haberman & Associates

Fred Haberman, president, Haberman & Associates

What will be the greatest challenge for the PR industry in 2003? PR pros will be challenged to identify and place stories in alternative media that are actually trusted by their target audiences. Consider this paradox: while opportunities for story placements with traditional media outlets (national television, radio and newspapers) abound for PR professionals because media are reporting more commercial stories, consumers are skeptical even distrustful of traditional media. Frank N. Magid Associates recently reported that 27 percent of the viewing public trust local television reporting and that 20 percent of poll respondents trust what they read in the newspapers. Network news scored with only 12 percent of people and cable just 10 percent. That said, PR pros must assume that consumers will seek information from a variety of sources, ranging from far-flung websites to chat rooms, to ensure they are getting credible, unbiased commentary. (Now add the proliferation of new media outlets and channels and a PR professionals universe of opportunities becomes mind-boggling. The solution: expand PR campaigns to include more targeted and alternative media to reach key stakeholders.) Will PR increase its relevance to the C-suite in 2003? Absolutely. After the corporate debacles and meltdowns that characterized 2002, PR will heavily influence the C-suite because of corporations growing need to connect and honestly communicate with a wide variety of audiences. An exclusive focus on customers or shareholders will be even more dangerous as diverse publics have an impact on our businesses. The paradox: In order to make the primary sale to customers we have to develop much more significant relationships with secondary and tertiary groups. PR pros working with the C-suite must remember that, with the continuing popularity of internet communication and the proliferation of media outlets, good and bad news travels fast. It will take the best PR people to stay on top of the information flow. Finally, although PR agencies have felt the pain that ad agencies have, their influence is going to continue to grow as the emphasis on total marketing communications continues. What will be the big media trend of 2003? Convergence. Cross media and cross platform deals will be the biggest trend of 2003. More and more businesses will be setting up marketing communications deals with media conglomerates who own cable networks, broadcast and print outlets, web sites, retail outlets, outdoor signage, entertainment venues and even theme parks. The paradox: As storytelling opportunities proliferate, traditional PR people (and traditional ad people) will be struggling to find their roles. "Transparency" was the defining business term of 2002. What will be the defining term for 2003? Convergence. (See above.) Click on any of the names below to see their 2003 PR predictions: Reed Byrum, president and CEO, PRSA Steve Cody, managing partner, PepperCom Andy Cunningham, CEO, Citigate Cunningham Ofield Dukes, president, Ofield Dukes & Associates Peter Gardiner, partner & chief media officer, Deutsch Inc. Harvey Greisman, VP of communications, IBM Global Services Fred Haberman, president, Haberman & Associates Andy Lark, VP, global communications & marketing, Sun Microsystems Bill Margaritis, VP of worldwide corporate communications, FedEx Helen Ostrowski, CEO, Porter Novelli Doug Pinkham, president, Public Affairs Council Harlan Teller, chief client officer and president, worldwide corporate practice, Hill & Knowlton Mark Weiner, CEO, Delahaye Medialink

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