Last year was challenging on many fronts: politics, social media, media, influencers and natural disasters, all culminating with one denominator – dented trust.
An era of ‘instability’ change and evolution is set to continue, directly impacting communicators, challenging them to grow into more holistic human beings and professionals. The pace of change is on turbo boost mode across all sectors, thanks to rapid advances in smart technologies and AI.
This calls for communicators to wear several hats: one for PR, one for marketing and one as a technology practitioner, juggling seamlessly between the three. A global report by Talkwalker revealed that PR agencies are no longer relying on media relations as their main service offering. More than 50 per cent of research participants offer social media management, content marketing, influencer marketing and link-building for SEO.
Communications professionals will need to work more closely with clients on building awareness and positioning the brand, while at the same time creating demand for their products and services. PR and marketing will become even more entwined, requiring PR professionals to be able to provide marketing expertise, think on their feet, make the necessary recommendations, and drive and deliver integrated communications plans across multiple sectors.
I intend to focus on the key areas I believe will shape the world of comms going into 2020 and beyond.
Building trust with target audiences will be a priority for brands and their communication strategies in 2020. One of the most powerful ways of doing so is by positioning themselves/spokespeople as respected experts.
Another key contributing factor in building trust is the content that brands share. It should be relevant, authentic and helpful to their target audience. In the current climate of constant change and breaking news, governments, companies, and individuals need to be more humane, relevant and responsive.
‘Spotlight’ profile pieces
For B2B brands, this will be key in 2020. Aimed at more niche media outlets, news sources such as newsletters, closed Facebook groups, vertical industry and specialised titles, LinkedIn groups, and other SM pages, these opportunities will allow brands to illustrate their empathy and authenticity, as they’ll be engaging with people who are familiar and interested in the content being shared.
It’s the narrative that counts
We all know that journalists’ inboxes are flooded daily with press releases and pitches. PR professionals will need to work harder and smarter to make their clients’ content more interesting, impactful and engaging. They will need to prepare content that is ready to publish and is in line with the publication's style, target readership and news style. This is invaluable when it comes to building relationships and respect with journalists and securing earned media coverage.
Authenticity & user-generated content
With a greater crackdown worldwide on transparency in disclosures on behalf of influencers, there is a call for more 'real' people to share their feedback and advice on products and services in organic settings by consumers, versus hearing from brands directly. It really is very much about the human element, credibility and authenticity to secure customer loyalty, trust and buy-in.
Video stays very much in the lead when it comes to the content vehicle of choice. The reason why is simple: video in different styles, format, lengths, can deliver complex messages with ease in a matter of seconds. Engagement is achieved successfully with low commitment. However, the main challenge is in creating engaging video content efficiently as it’s time-consuming and demands skill, talent and the right equipment.
Delivering voice content in the form of true dialogue is impactful when establishing yourself as a thought leader.
At the end of the day, the ROI on strategic investments in new tools that are widely available is huge. In doing so, PR professionals will be able to expand their capabilities, simplify many common pain points, and further drive their own, and their clients’, success. Investing in such tools will keep the digital world at their fingertips.
Whether it’s mastering analytics, improving content creation, or streamlining social media management, PR pros have met the challenge head-on. Today’s digital tools enable that journey by providing easy-to-use solutions for everyday challenges. There’s a wealth of resources out there today and all communication professionals have no choice but to embrace it - authentically.
Sawsan Ghanem is joint MD at Active DMC
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