We’re officially several weeks into 2018 (if you can believe it). Fresh off our trip to CES, the BIGteam has been on the lookout for the latest and greatest emerging technologies coming in 2018. We’ve also been looking ahead to see how the PR landscape is changing and how we can leverage new trends for our clients. Take a peek into our crystal ball and see our top predictions on where PR is heading in 2018, and how all you PR professionals out there can prepare.
Influencers Get More Influence
“Social media influencer” became a buzzword in 2017 and probably brings to mind images of Instagram models telling you how much they love their hair vitamins or fit tea, right? Sure, those influencers exist, but there are plenty of other types of influencers out there who are gaining more media power every day. Many PR professionals in 2018 may find themselves pitching social media influencers just as much as they pitch traditional media. As PR shifts from media relations to influencer relations, we expect to see more carefully curated content coming from these influencers. In return, they may just grow to have as much power as traditional media. Not sure how to handle influencer relations? Take our crash course on social media influencers (you may just need it in 2018).
Pay to Play: Further Blurred Lines Between Earned and Paid Media
As soon as we think we have a handle on sponsored content and paid media, the tactics change and we have to re-evaluate the process again. Paid media opportunities are constantly evolving, making it more difficult than ever to spot them. However, it’s important to remember that earned media is always more valuable than paid media. While your client may opt for a byline or sponsored content at times, we suspect a return to traditional PR practices where coverage is earned because you have done enough research into a specific reporter and outlet.
Rise of Robotics and AI
This one is a given, but we expect to see an increase in bots and AI machines joining the PR scene in 2018. The digital world will get smarter as algorithms provide analytics and crunch data faster and more accurately than the human mind ever could. But at the end of the day, remember that PR is an industry based on human relationships. A bot can’t do the same job that a PR rep can. At BIGfish, while we use digital platforms such as Cision and Google Analytics, we are constantly personalizing our own reports and media lists and tailoring our messaging as accurately as possible. And remember, you’ll always do a better PR job than Sophia the Robot.
News Gets Real Again
2017 gave way to the fight against fake news. A common misconception of PR professionals is that we try to spin the truth to make our client “look good.” In reality, PR is probably one of the most difficult industries to be dishonest in. Reporters nowadays do extensive research for their stories to ensure that they are as accurate as possible. In return, PR pros must always strive to be transparent and open with reporters. In fact, this was a trend that we predicted back in 2017. While there still may be a fight to be had in 2018, we’re sure that more sites and social media platforms will continue to take steps to combat incorrect facts, lazy research and fake news once and for all.
Better Crisis Preparation
If 2017 taught us anything it’s that the question you should always be asking your client is not what to do if a crisis happens, but what to do when it happens. From United Airlines’ disastrous response to removing a passenger to Pepsi’s handling of the backlash against its tone deaf advertisement with Kendall Jenner, plenty of PR crises happened to companies in 2017, and they’re likely happen again. Therefore, PR professionals have to make detailed plans in 2018 for how to respond to crises before they happen, not after. Luckily, many of the PR teams who suffered a crisis in 2017 are unlikely to repeat their mistake in the new year.
Of course, there are plenty of other PR trends that will emerge in 2018. Do you have a prediction for where PR is heading this year? Let us know in the comments below or join in the conversation by tweeting us @BIGfishPR!