It’s no secret that the traditional PR world has seen some radical changes in the last few years. Marketing and PR roles continue to overlap in an increasingly digital landscape while the explosion of influencer marketing has forced PR pros into the social space. With the new year rapidly approaching, the PRESS PR + Marketing team weighs in on their industry predictions and how PR pros can expect to adapt.
1. AGENCIES AS CLIENT COLLABORATORS
Agencies are no longer order takers; we are collaborators. This is an important shift agencies should make with their clients going into 2020. “Authenticity” is more than a buzzword and should be applied to every relationship, including (and especially) your client. Being a true partner to our clients is partially responsible for PRESS’s roster remaining consistent over the last 5-6 years and how our agency work continues to expand.
It may seem simple but we trust our clients to be honest and open with us and, in return, they trust us to provide advice that is best for their brand. We don’t tell our clients what they want to hear. We tell them the truth. Our clients know we genuinely care about them as people in addition to the welfare and growth of their companies. This has always been intuitive for PRESS but I think we’ll see a similar adoption throughout the PR + Marketing industry in 2020.
2. AUTHENTIC BRANDING AS THE KEY TO SALES CONVERSION
In the current marketing and advertising landscape, consumers are looking for an experience from brands, not just to be sold on their services or products. They want a connection to the brands they buy and follow. And while brands are moving (slowly) towards this realization, sales is still the primary brand goal.
With marketplaces on virtually every popular social media platform, we’re now seeing a direct consumer conversion from branded content to sale without the use of a traditional advertising “middle man”. This idea needs to be translated for off-the-grid solutions as well. The QR code was the ‘sticks & stones’ version of this. Being able to bridge the gap between, say, an outdoor ad execution or a television spot, to immediate purchase will boost brand sales as well as instantly gratify the consumer. The need for solution-based content and a seamless, shoppable experience are the new key ingredients to driving sales.
3. TRANSPARENCY WILL PERMEATE THE INDUSTRY
Unfortunately, public relations has a reputation as a “spindustry” but as a PR practitioner that moniker is the opposite of what I see in my daily work life. Transparency and authenticity are the names of the game. There’s been a lot of talk about authenticity being demanded by Gen Z, but I think this is something that everyone craves and deserves — regardless of age. Even back in school, the adage for crisis communication is “Tell it All and Tell it Quickly.” This permeates throughout our organization and into the advice we provide with clients.
With clients, be real. If a client is asking for something that you know doesn’t make sense, say it. Have the hard conversation. Tell the client why you disagree, cite specific issues that may arise and provide a solution. That last part is the most important. No one wants to be told they’re wrong without being offered a well thought-out alternative. The client will respect you for your reasoning and either explain their own reasoning or take you up on your advice. Either way, you transition from being a vendor to being a partner.
4. NICHES WILL BUILD MEDIA RELATIONSHIPS
Given the choice, editors and journalists prefer to talk to real people over PR and Marketing Managers. To make matters even more challenging, a 2019 report found that PR pros outnumber journalists 6 to 1. But there’s hope! In our increasingly digital world, outlets are in desperate need of content to share online which means more opportunity to get your client’s story heard and actually offer value to the media.
My solid media relationships have been built by humanizing myself and my clients as well as being known amongst reporters for a particular niche. In my case, I am constantly introduced to new journalists covering all things Entertainment because I’ve built a reputation in the market. Tight knit media relationships can also keep you abreast of potential client crises when getting the word out quickly is of the utmost importance.
5. CONSUMERS AS THE NEW INFLUENCER
Influencers are elevating their transparency game to maintain follower trust in the wake of some startling 2019 studies. Over a few short years, we’ve seen a spectrum of influencer marketing ranging from authentically admirable to downright pitiful. At PRESS, we engage our clients in influencer marketing trades for various events such as restaurant openings, entertainment experiences, local festivals and more. The influencers we work with are experts at creating a dialogue with their audience, serving as a creative vessel to reach the client’s target market. It’s incredibly effective and fun.
I predict hyper-targeting will become a priority to more accurately align brands with influencer partnerships considering influencers who have cultivated a laser-focused niche are becoming more popular. Furthermore, since consumers are 9.8X more likely to trust UGC (user-generated content) over influencer content when making purchase decisions, we’ll see a rise in “real people” being incorporated into marketing campaigns. When it comes to social, consumers are the new influencer, UGC is the new branded content and engagement rates are the new follower count.
6. INSTAGRAM BECOMES A FLUID MARKETPLACE
Social media is steadily becoming a more prevalent part of every business’s content marketing strategy with more marketing dollars being put aside each year to explore the latest trends and platform updates. Consumers are also soaking in more brand messaging than ever and are experts at siphoning through irrelevant or inauthentic content.
In 2020, consumers will see a shift away from blatant influencer advertisements and transition into a more fluid marketplace, namely Instagram who released a shopping feature earlier this year. Consumers are now able to buy those perfect black flare jeans or subscribe to the Winter Fab Fit Fun box directly from an Instagram post with the simple tap of a screen. The ease of the purchase will keep platforms simple enough for baby boomers but innovative and entertaining for the Millennials and GenZers.