PR Training

3 Essential PR Trends to Monitor in the New Year and Decade

As we experience the first few days of the new year and decade, I can’t help but feel as if time has flown by. At the risk of sounding old, 2010 seemed like just yesterday. Yet, in reflection, so much has changed.

Public relations has come a long way in the last 10 years on so many fronts, presenting both new challenges and opportunities. When we began this decade, many local newspapers had at least 10 more pages of non-syndicated content than they do today. Organic reach on social media was also still possible for brands.

Twenty years ago, organizations were making news for putting out a new website;can you imagine the noise if everyone did that today? And people still faxed pitches! If that doesn’t take your breath away for a minute, I don’t know what will.

Nostalgia aside, the topic on everyone’s mind this new year is: What’s in store for the next year and decade? While I wish there was a perfect crystal ball, the best we can do are our own professional insights — and here are some trends that we foresee being worth watching in 2020 and beyond:

User-generated content

For the last couple of years, influencers have been a go-to for marketers as ambassadors for their products or services. However, now that influencers have become commonplace and the FCC is cracking down on disclosures, consumers aren’t as easily captivated by celebrity promotions for hair regimens and face creams. 2020 is the perfect time to take a fresh, creative approach to your partnerships.

While influencers have a place and time, everyday people are the figures to emphasize in the coming year, especially if you’re in a consumer-facing arena. This means individuals showing practical applications of your product/services in an organic setting.

Things to think about How can you leverage organic content (with permission, of course) and empower your everyday fans to continue to share your brand message creatively?

Highly-targeted story angles

Profile stories of people and organizations are always a holy grail. And as PR practitioners, it will always be on the wish list for the organizations and people we represent.

That said, if we only focus on high-profile pieces — which are, again, awesome — we’re missing out on a world of smaller, but richer opportunities. As marketers, leaders and media consumers, we need to shift our views of traditional news outlets to incorporate more niche, targeted outlets. This includes newsletters, closed Facebook groups and social media pages, among other places.

There is also an increasing number of micro publications that have smaller distributions, but are highly specific in nature and often very receptive to thought leadership and related industry news.

If you’re in the B2B arena, this is a critical space to amplify in 2020. These opportunities also allow you to flex a little more intellectual muscle, as you’ll be speaking to people who have some familiarity with the content you’re sharing.  

Incorporating these outlets into your media relations strategy can help you expand your influence with peers and prospective clients.

Social activism

Sure, we all have organizational values. But hanging a mission statement on your website or conference room wall is no longer enough to deem you socially conscious.

Especially if you’re communicating with millennials and Gen Zers, social awareness should be a top priority in the coming year. According to recent studies, it’s been proven that consumers feel more loyalty to brands that make a positive social impact. Buyers consider their purchases to be an extension of their views, beliefs and lifestyles.

Simply put, they are investing in your ability to make the world better through business practices and partnerships.

Arguably, this is an area of improvement for many organizations. And if you’re looking for avenues to explore in this arena, might we recommend building out messaging around sustainability, corporate citizenship and community relations.

Last year was a wild ride, and without a doubt, the 2010s have changed the practice of public relations. Keeping in mind that we communicate to the preferences of our key audiences, a little research and some planning can yield exciting new opportunities in 2020 and beyond.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s in your sights for the coming year?

Allison Schroeder, APR, is owner of Pomme Communications, an award-winning Cincinnati-based agency specializing in strategic media relations, special-event promotion and personal branding. She represents a number of regional and national clients in the business-to-business, business-to-consumer and nonprofit spaces. Schroeder also hosts the “Hot Pink Apples” podcast, which provides a lighter take on marketing.

About the author

Allison Schroeder, APR

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