02 June 2020 Guest Contributor

Public relations is all about understanding the trends your company can tap into to make an impact. Knowing this can shape WHERE you're publishing your stories, HOW you're weaving in your message to what's topical and (most imporantly) who is going to care.

Whether you're embracing newer social networks (hello TikTok), or dealing with a pandemic sweeping the globe, it's important to know what's at the top of people's minds and how it impacts your business.

Specialised PR is Gaining Popularity

Businesses aren't just looking to get help with their PR. Instead, they want to invest in a company that specialises in a relevant niche to ensure they have a clear understanding of the cultural aspects of the brand as well as the vertical market. As a result, PR consultants are driven to identify the types of industries and busineses on which to focus, so they can demonstrate a deeper understanding to garner more business.

Op-Eds Become More Mainstream

Not everyone just wants the facts, and op-eds give contributors (other than the journalists) an opportunity to inject their 'voice', perspective or research into the discussion. 

This can be an incredibly powerful way for business leaders to share their message and connect with readers. With so many consumers wanting an authentic and personal connection, an op-ed can pull people in, educate them, and keep them entertained at the same time.

Op-eds are typically written by the business leader or CEO, but they may be given a 'spit and polish' by a professional editor or public relations professional. And generally, opportunities like this are usually uncovered by a PR who's likely to know where the opinion-based editorials need to be published to get the most exposure.

Trusted Editorial Takes Centreplace

Businesses typically set a budget that rolls their advertising and public relations expenses into one. However, while complementary, PR's role is separate to advertising, since it's critical in helping businesses generate trust with consumers. The reason for this is obvious, since you can't pay for 'earned media'. 

Throughout 2020, more businesses will place a greater emphasis on generating editorial or earned media in respected media outlets to better promote brand values and ethics that reflect those they share with their target audience. 

Meaningful Engagements are More Powerful

While marketing can utilise more technology and 'fancier' devices, people still yearn for the human element and stories that effective storytelling PR helps promote.

With more and more digital content competing for our attention than ever before, many consumers are starting to digitally declutter, ie. unfollowing and unsubscribing to create 'clean air'. By being more selective about the content they consume, greater emphasis is being placed on creating professional content (many times, with a personal touch) that connects in a more meaningful, human way.

Reputation Management is More Critical

Managing a reputation has been a focus for PR firms for years. However, with the onset of social media, its importance has taken on a greater significance. We all know how destructive a single post can be on the reputation of a person or brand, so effective management of all communication 'touchpoints' is critical.

In fact, according to Entrepreneur, a company can lose 22 percent of their business after potential customers find a negative article on page one of a search. This climbs to a staggering 70 percent if there are four or more negative articles.

This means always being on the offensive against bad reviews, online criticism or negative press to ensure issues are dealt with promptly and in accordance with an overall strategy - including a crisis management plan. 

Microinfluencers are Becoming More Important

Microinfluencers continue to make their mark on social media. But unlike mega influencers, they have smaller numbers of followers and are generally more engaged with their audiences, making them capable of holding sway on their audience by influencing their purchasing decisions and behaviours.

As such, brands have the opportunity to work with microinfluencers to help extend their outreach and promote a more postive image.

However, it's important to be be discerning when it comes to choosing only relevant microinfluencers who speak to the target audience you're after.

Social Distancing is Changing PR Events

PR is all about cultivating a desired perception of a company within its community. However, it's not just about press releases and media famils. Launch parties, conferences, and events can also play a role, made difficult with the onset of social distancing.

With no clear end in sight, COVID-19 has meant professional PRs have made the requisite adjustments using tools like Facebook events and Zoom collaboration tools to generate the same impact without the need for face-to-face interaction.

Those who thrive will continue to be nimble and pivot as needed.


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