The media landscape is changing constantly, especially with the rising importance of digital and social media within public relations. There are three main trends identified for the PR industry in 2018.
- Decreasing media credibility
One major trend that has become apparent for 2018 is the scepticism of paid media content. This contrasts the growing influence of “a person like yourself”, which is usually seen within earned media. Due to the ‘Fake News’ phenomenon and lack of transparency in many previously trusted media sources, it is clear that there is a need for trust building and clarity, to produce content viewed as credible.
There has been a drop in the value of paid editorial content, with Statista arguing that in 2017 74% of consumers didn’t pay for content, therefore it is important to be able to access consumers through other channels, especially earned media.
According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, 75% of consumer trust lies with friend and family recommendations, closely followed by academics, analysts and journalists. As it is becoming increasingly likely that paid media content is scrutinised or ignored, it is important that the consumers’ trust in recommendations is further considered.
The shift from offline to online is also making the use of tools, such as user generated content, increasingly important. There is a greater emphasis on the power of social media efforts such as tweets, product reviews, media coverage and blog posts. The decreasing trust of the advertorial style of coverage means that PR practitioners need to ensure that they are able to create two way dialogue and further utilise social media.
2. The rise of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is being used more frequently, and is deemed beneficial to brands. Another trend that will continue into 2018 is the use of ‘influencers’ to engage audiences and drive a response. It a misconception that influencers are people with a huge social media following. While this is useful, it means nothing if the followers are not the target audience. Influencers are those who have reach, credibility in the context and salesmanship.
According to eMarketer, 89% of marketers surveyed ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that influencer marketing can impact on your brand. Furthermore, 80% ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that the budget spent on influencer marketing would increase
in 2018, implying it is continuing to grow.
Similarly, the value of influencer marketing is proven by Influencer Marketing Hub, who found that it is the fastest growing online customer-acquisition method.
In a survey conducted with university students, 70% said they were ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to buy a product they have seen someone they follow online using, which further emphasises the trend of increasing importance of influencer marketing.
3. Adaptable skill set
Another PR trend that will continue into 2018 is the need for PR practitioners to adapt their skills and be able to change with technology. Skills such as social media content creation and analytics, the use of SEO and in some cases programming skills to create specific types of digital content will become increasingly necessary.
PR Week argue that the future PR practitioner must have four key skills; understanding the changing engagement strategies, becoming flexible specialists, having the opportunity to grow and focusing on job roles not titles. All of these predictions for future specialists are heavily based on the knowledge that the ever changing media landscape will force practitioners to constantly adapt their skills as fast as the landscape can change. For example, engaging content in the recent past could have been an image, but now that is shifting towards videos, and even further to 360 degree videos.
Furthermore, the use of social media management and analytic tools will become more dominant. The uses of such tools are invaluable at measuring the success of campaigns or content more accurately, and the industry will need practitioners to be able to do this in order to improve activities and become more effective. Where a strong set of digital skills were an added bonus in the past, now and into the future this will become more of a necessity.
In summary, it is clear that there is a need for credibility, adaptability and a strong skill set in digital media in order to keep up with emerging trends into 2018.