Three predictions for 2019

Surprise...influencers, authenticity, and diversity will hit your inboxes in 2019, says Tom Biro, MD at Rusty George Creative.

As 2018 nears an end, we’re all likely finalizing plans and strategies for the coming year, mapping out goals, and making decisions on what fresh elements we can add to our communications efforts. With that in mind, here are a few predictions for 2019.

First, influencer engagement will drastically shift. In little more than a decade, brands went from using PR tactics with influencers to spending many thousands (if not millions) of marketing dollars on them.

While there have been many successes with influencer relationships, there have also been bumps in the road that have made marketers think twice. And when influencers criticize other high-profile influencers in equally high-profile ways, it could signal the tightening of reins around these relationships and influencer spending.

Second, customers will continue to seek authenticity. For ages, organizations have "given back" to communities and most, if not all, significant-sized businesses have some sort of charitable partnership or activity.

But community involvement is becoming an even more important piece of the decision tree for consumers and businesses alike. As my former colleagues at MWW proclaimed in 2017 and again in 2018, a large group of people base "loyalty and purchasing decisions on companies’ reputations rather than just product features and price." Think Patagonia’s very public political and social stance is an outlier? Not for long.

Finally, diversity and inclusion will be an even greater part of business decision making. The transparency we all have in our social and business lives these days continues to awaken us to problems and one is diversity and inclusion.

It’s not about which gender pronoun to use in press releases or ad copy. It’s about agency leadership representing the marketplace’s true talent and honoring commitments with real follow-through. It’s no wonder global brands like Diageo are asking the firms they hire for gender and diversity stats.

It’s also about recognizing how tools and technology – especially AI-based efforts – can help or hinder us in these areas, as a UX strategist at Adobe recently discovered.

Are these predictions earth-shattering or terribly surprising? Probably not, if you’ve been paying attention. But all three will likely show up in your inboxes, at conferences you’re attending, or even in RFPs. And all three have the potential to make or break your business goals in the near and long term.

Tom Biro resides in Seattle and is Managing Director at Rusty George Creative in Tacoma, WA. His column focuses on how digital media affects and shifts PR. He can be reached on Twitter @tombiro or via email at tom@rustygeorge.com.

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