By Serena Williams, Junior Account Executive
Much has changed in the world of PR over the last 10 years, from the decline in print media, to the rise of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram (to name but a few!). So, as we enter a new decade, what trends can we expect to shape our industry in 2020?
It may come as no surprise to hear that social media will continue to play a significant role. Over the last decade it has provided companies with a platform to engage directly with their audience and help build awareness. Over the last few years, the importance of social influencers has really taken off and this will continue to hold true. However, the sorts of influencers we approach is set to change. Consumers are getting savvier when it comes to influencers who represent brands they don’t genuinely believe in. Cue the micro-influencers!
In the past, marketing and PR professionals have opted to approach so called ’macro-influencers’; individuals with a following of between 100,000 to over 1 million. However, recently there has been some doubt around the authenticity of their promotional activity. And so, in 2020 we expect to see a shift towards the use of more micro-influencers; individuals who are still considered experts but with a smaller following of between 10,000 and 500,000, allowing them to be more connected and engaged with their followers.
The way in which we consume media is changing. The rise in AI has meant that we expect content to be tailored and personalised; the news is no different. Traditionally in PR, the goal is to get that top-tier media placement, however, like with the move from ‘macro’ to ‘micro-influencers’, the media is also shifting its attention to more niche publications such as blogs, forums and podcasts. Outlets like these focus on specific topics while still having a large readership, allowing companies and brands to target a specialised, niche audience.
New avenues for existing channels
There’s also the social media shopping trend to consider. Now more than ever people are using these platforms to shop and discover new products, with around 60% of Instagram users and 70 % of Pinterest users shopping via social media.
These platforms have taken note of the fact that people are using them to shop and have made it easier for stores to sell via social media. Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook have all jumped on the trend of developing shoppable posts for online retailers, allowing stores to tag products directly on their posts. For PR experts, this means social media is going to become even more critical to a successful campaign and product messages will need to be integrated with these tags to take advantage of the increase in online traffic.
There are now estimated to be 3.25 billion voice-activated assistant devices being used across the world. Do you use one?? I’ll admit I do! And they have changed the way in which we carry out daily tasks. Not only are people using voice-activated assistants to play music, tell us what the weather will be or set a timer; we can also use them to consume news and carry out searches. So, as voice technology continues to grow, what do PR professionals need to be aware of when writing a pitch?
- How does your pitch read when spoken aloud? Typically PR professionals have only had to consider how words are read. However, with more and more people using voice-activated assistants to search for news we must now think about how words sound when read aloud in response to a question.
- Key words – the search terms people use when speaking to a voice-activated assistant will be noticeably different to those used when typing in a web browser. Consequently, PR professionals must think about the keywords in their pitch and how this aligns with the way in which people search across both voice assistants and internet web browsers.
This also affects existing communication channels. Things such as packaging, manuals, apps and emails are all ways in which companies can already take advantage of voice activation. For this to be successful, it must be clear to consumers what key terms to use in order to utilise a company’s voice features.
This is but a glimpse at some of the exciting trends set to transform the PR industry in the coming year, and I for one am excited to see what the next decade has in store for PR.