Looking ahead to 2014…
In PR it’s good to know the latest trends before they’ve even happened. Staying ahead of the game is essential to remain innovative and creative but, most importantly, to know your audience.
Here are my predictions of how our role as PRs will change in 2014 and what the key trends will be. From the shake-up of social to a transformed traditional media, we can expect our role to be even more challenging next year. But we all know how much we love a challenge!
Google+ to lead the way
Whilst Google+, with over 540 million active users, is already making waves in the world of online customer engagement, expect to see even more brands utilising the platform to its potential next year. Not only are those +1s becoming ever more important to Google search, but the whole strategy of the network makes it solely focused on relevant content. It connects people in those circles that are appropriate to them, acting as a filter which only delivers content you’re interested in. So if your brand has an audience that is active on Google+, ensure you have a presence in 2014 and make it count. Make the most of the layout, ensuring your updates are image or video-led. And be in the right circles, don’t just wait for people to join yours! Other sites may also make changes to become more like Google+, making content shared and received much more relevant.
Facebook loses out
Facebook will continue to lose members of its younger audience to newer platforms like Kik (30 million users), Whatsapp (350 million users) and Snapchat (5 million daily active users), which are emerging as some of the fastest growing social networks. Those channels each allow you to share private images and videos in a similar process to sending a text. Although, for these new instant messaging platforms to continue to be popular, they need to adapt and evolve to stay relevant. After all, how many Snapchats can one person send before they get bored? Therefore, networks like Instagram may choose to adopt Snapchat’s functionality, expanding their offering so users can also send instant messages.
Rich content is key
Visual social networking sites have been at the forefront of some of this year’s most powerful social media campaigns, with the likes of Dorritos, Next and Urban Outfitters using Vine to get in front of customers. Even Twitter is becoming more visual following its recent image preview changes. So expect current social networking sites, and future ones, to be much more image and video-led.
We all know traditional print media is in decline. Publishers are having to adapt to meet the needs of readers and stay afloat.
From News International’s paywalls to the Mail Online’s Fashion Finder feature, big media players are developing new digital business models to increase revenue online and maintain their audiences. Going forward we’ll see even more of this from other sites and it’s likely we’ll start to see more online exclusives, where we pay to access content.
Mobile is king
We are in the age where anything online can be accessed via your smartphone. We are increasingly accessing our bank accounts, doing our shopping, watching sports, reading the news, checking our emails and tweeting all through our phones. If we are at a conference, we’ll tweet about it using our smartphone. If we are organising an experiential PR event, we will ask people to talk about it and post images on social media using their mobiles.
News websites have created their own apps to make content easier to read with larger headlines and bigger images. We are using hashtags in almost everything we do to direct debate and engagement to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc as we know almost everyone has a smartphone. In 2014 some content may start to become exclusively available on mobiles. For example, if you want to watch a football match, you could be given access via purchasing an app. Not only are consumers choosing to access content via their mobile, brands are encouraging them. Smartphones allow consumers to have 24 hour access to anything online, so that means more website visits, more online engagement and just another channel to influence.
Demand for better evaluation
Instead of counting pieces of coverage and AVEs, there is now a tendency to evaluate Facebook likes and the amount of Twitter followers we have. Surely this is also failing to represent influence? Unless your objective is simply to get people to connect with you online, we need to start thinking beyond this and constantly asking ourselves, to what extent is this actually driving sales and influencing people?
All these new trends suggest a demand for fast-paced, proactive and reactive PR. The always changing online arena, will mean fewer press releases and more bespoke content and our media relations will be more targeted than ever before.
We’ll need to be quicker off the mark if we’re considering commenting on stories, or piggybacking. But it will stretch us as professionals to be more forward-thinking and innovative. Fresh ideas will never have been more important. And influence should be the priority over awareness for any brand.
But keep your eyes peeled, you never know what’s around the corner in PR.