Human element, micro-influencers and specialists: Prevailing PR trends in the Middle East

The PR industry, much like the fashion and technology sector, has always kept evolving and with all the rapid changes happening in the market, it is crucial for PR professionals to keep evolving, too.

Anastasiya Golovatenko is an account director at Sherpa Communications
Anastasiya Golovatenko is an account director at Sherpa Communications

Though the tactical execution has changed over the recent years, the core essence of the industry remains to create meaningful connections, build trust and help the audience view the brands they work with in a positive light.

With so many different platforms and technologies in play, there are several PR trends that will prevail in the year ahead:

Specialised PR agencies to take centre stage

Companies have slowly started to realise that growing their business in a saturated market and taking their brand to the next level is a task that can be managed better by specialised PR companies rather than traditional PR firms.

A clear understanding of the local market and the expertise to manage clients in that industry, along with the right network and connections, help specialised PR agencies come up with bespoke strategies that help address specific needs of the sector in line with business objectives.

'Human Element' to matter the most

PR is a persuasion business. Every waking hour of the day a PR professional would be thinking of tactics to persuade or influence the internal and external stakeholders to promote their clients.

With most people inundated with marketing emails, people are now more important than ever. To reach their target audience, brands need people with a high level of creativity, problem-solving abilities and out-of-the-box thinking, meaning they need to learn to leverage their unique human element to build meaningful relationships with the media and their consumers.

The year of the micro-influencer

Micro-influencers have been the ones who share or discuss their passion for a particular niche or hobby. A study by Mediahub found out that collaboration with a micro-influencer can generate 85 per cent higher engagement as compared to an influencer with 100,000 followers.

More and more brands will be open to engaging with a brand advocate in an organic fashion that can lead to a longer-term and more valuable relationship, also generating potential sales.

Moreover, micro-influencers as experts in their field are also willing to be actively engaged in meaningful campaigns and to share their ideas to make it a success, comforting the brands and making it a true partnership.

Digital PR to deepen brands’ presence

Digital PR, similar to traditional PR in many ways, will gain prominence in 2020. PR professionals will be considering all aspects of their clients’ social and digital footprint.

This powerful strategy to improve brand’s online presence and visibility can help companies speak directly to their target audience, as well as tailor their message to them.

With 64 per cent of people relying on online search engines when they are looking for a product or service, and 93 per cent checking online reviews before making a decision, increased brand awareness and cultivation of a connection between yourself and the target consumer can help companies solidify their position as their first point of contact when they need a service or product they provide.

Short-format videos, podcasts, immersive experiences and high-quality imagery, backed by the right metrics, will play a make-or-break role in the success of brand campaigns in 2020.

Crisis Communication in the digital age

The reality of the ‘always-on’ connection to the web environment means even a trivial customer service issue now has the potential to escalate into a reputational firestorm. This means companies always need to be ready and adapt their response strategies accordingly.

Negative online reviews and press coverage has claimed businesses 22 per cent of new potential customers and if it receives more than three bad reviews, that number jumps to 59.2 per cent.

Communicators in 2020 will be tasked by companies with gatekeeping to prevent incidents like hashtag campaigns that can do more damage in a short span of time, which means more and more companies should focus on a crisis communication and reputation management plan to avert major disasters.

Anastasiya Golovatenko is account director at Dubai-based PR agency Sherpa Communications

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