Trend Forecast: What's Driving PR in 2016?

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From the transformation of traditional media, to the development of online outlets and rapid growth of storytelling, the public relations industry has undergone a number of major transformations over the past few years. 2016 will be no different, as practitioners are faced with a new wave of change that will dictate how we execute our strategies and communicate to our audiences.

While only time will tell if these trends are as significant as predicted, here are some developments that we think will sweep through the industry in the next 12 months.

  • Owned media takes the stage. Many organisations already supplement their media outreach efforts by sharing relevant content and material with their audience through owned platforms such as blogs, newsletters, social media and websites. With traditional media facing further cuts and news crews becoming smaller and smaller, we predict that there will be a greater emphasis on owned media. Bylines and contributed content have been on the rise and will continue to be a major opportunity in 2016.
  • Multichannel approach: The shift towards mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will mean that blog posts and other content can go days unseen if they’re left on websites alone. In 2016, we will see a drastic push to place content in the streams where people find their news. This not only includes social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but also email newsletters – which are tipped to make a huge comeback.
  • Paid campaigns. With effectiveness rates increasing over the past 2 years, paid reach campaigns will become the go-to solution for cutting through the clutter of social media noise. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 benchmark report, over 50% of B2B marketing professionals use social media ads and promoted posts to distribute content. To reach new audiences, professionals should look beyond Facebook and Twitter, and find new ways to invest in paid social distribution.
  • The rise of the numbers game. 2016 will see a much greater emphasis on digital analytics and reporting. Armed with affordable online tools, organisations can now measure the impact of social media on ROI, allowing them to increase the social share in the marketing budget. Trackable results will allow brands to move the needle if possible, and more importantly, understand why.
  • Acceleration of the 24-hour news cycle. We live in a world where news breaks online and coverage depends not so much on a story’s informative nature, but its ability to appeal to audience interests. In 2016, public relations practitioners will need to assist journalists with satisfying the demands of the 24/7 news cycle. The onus is on practitioners to offer journalists quality and newsworthy stories, and select the best formats and channels to distribute them. Tips on how to master media engagement can be found here.

It’s an exciting time to be in communications. But if you want to stay ahead of the pack, it’s important to be proactive. After all, just as communication evolves and audience preferences shift, so should our practice of public relations.