Public Relations has changed in recent years. The Global Communications Report, a comprehensive worldwide survey of more than 1,000 senior PR executives worldwide, reveals that the worldwide PR industry is predicted to grow from its current estimated size of $14 billion to $19.3 billion over the next five years. The pace of change in public relations has never been faster than it is today, but at the same time, it will likely never be this slow again.
PR agencies are now creating strategies and shaping public relations in ways very different from just a few years ago, in large part due to the dominance of digital technology and the blurring of lines between paid, owned, and earned media outcomes that agencies are often charged with generating.
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PR is about generating influence.
True influence is precious at a time when “fake news” is making headlines. As PR experts will be increasingly asked not only to generate coverage for brands and organizations, but to build the kind of relationships that actually influence behavior, and do so in a transparent way. The changing nature of influencer relations in PR moves from celebrities and social media ambassadors to micro-influencers: those that may not have a huge reach but that are trusted within social, demographic, or values-driven networks.
Content will move to new (and old) channels.
Effective PR strategies are less about selling and more about telling, telling stories that engage prospects or customers, and visual storytelling is hotter than ever. Earned media isn’t going away any time soon, but in recent years, social platforms have dominated.
A hot trend is content personalization, or using customer data or behavioral insights to create not just offers and promotions, but branded customized content for distribution through social or email channels. These may skirt the edges of a typical public relations strategy's scope, but like the video explosion, it means that PR will include content marketing production and distribution.
Implied Links Have Emerged.
The new development is “implied links.” Implied links are simply brand mentions that appear in earned or shared media. They’re undoubtedly good for visibility, but in the absence of a true link, they’re impossible to track. There is a direct correlation between PR and SEO. When it comes to content, quality and relevance have replaced sheer quantity as key metrics. New algorithms penalize shady backlinks, keyword stuffing, and other black-hat SEO strategies in favor of quality content. To be shareable, content must be optimized, engaging and authentic.
Thought leadership is more important than ever.
In today’s business and media environment, overall business strategy and communications strategy are intertwined. Thought leadership is relevant not just to B2B organizations, but to consumer product companies. The explosion of digital and social media has made every aspect of corporate reputation from customer service to CEO behavior relevant to brand image, and therefore to PR. Today, consumer and business brands need to be seen as leaders, and many have seen how an army of influencers can not only propel a business forward, but insulate reputation in the event of a reputation crisis. They must offer ideas and inspiration, not just great products and services. That means more professional communicators are focused on executive visibility and leadership, and that reputation management is built into every program.