2019 is coming to a close, and what a year it’s been. To infamously quote Riverdale, it’s been a year of the triumphs and defeats, the epic highs and lows of PR stunts. From Nike’s Dream crazier and Greggs’ new vegan roll campaign to Gillette’s “The best men can be” and PeoplePerHour’s “You do the girl boss thing, we’ll do the SEO thing”. And there were many more stunts, good and bad, in between.

So, what have we learned? What is the state of PR now, and more importantly, what trends do we ring in the new year with?

Looking back at previous PR trend predictions, not a lot has changed. The force is still strong with influencer marketing and analytics, however, there has been one PR trend that’s become more important than ever. Especially coming into the new year. But more on that below.

Here’s what PR specialists had to say on what we can expect from PR in 2020:

Ethics and transparency

“Public relations is a decision-making management practice tasked with building relationships and interests between organisations and their publics based on the delivery of information through trusted and ethical communication methods.”

You’re looking at the new definition of PR. And it boasts PR practice as one based on trust, ethics, and transparency. IPRA has said it, and these PR specialists have confirmed it:

“In 2020, ethics and transparency will drive brand communication as marketing automation and artificial intelligence become commonplace for personalized consumer experiences. How you inform, educate and build trust around data privacy and security will be the difference between one-off transactions and the long term relationships with customers based on loyalty and advocacy. However, saying you’re behaving ethically and you have transparency in your communication is not enough. Companies will have to “walk their talk” and do a better job of defining their ethical values in communication.”

Deirdre Breakenridge
CEO at Pure Performance Communications I Author at LinkedIn Learning


ethics-in-pr-deirdre-breakenridge-quote


“The public relations industry needs to continue to find ways to truly connect with communities. We’re in the time of “social care,” not just publicizing and marketing, truly connecting in a way that is real and allowing others to help tell brand stories and experiences. It takes a little longer because it involves building real relationships and finding unique ways to engage with multiple online communities. All of this needs to be done utilizing current top trends: video, planning for more voice search, multiple devices, changing social media dynamics and AI.”

Sarah Evans
PR Consultant I Digital Correspondent I Founder/CEO at Sevans strategy


“Demonstrating how we help the wider world is essential in today’s social climate. Whether in-person, digital, or xReality, experiences will be more important to audiences numbed by online interactions.”

Stella Low
CCO at Cisco


There it is. Ethics in PR has been talked about for a while now and kept being forecasted as one of the PR trends to keep in mind. Let’s hope it really catches on in 2020.


Influencer marketing

Yes, we dared include it on the list. Influencer marketing and PR will continue to intermingle in 2020. This particular kind of marketing might see some look at it with derision, might make social media users sigh, but alas – it’s here to stay. However, that does not mean saturation and the need for change are not on the horizon. Here’s what these PR specialists had to say:

“Influencer marketing will continue to evolve in 2020. Brands are committing more and more marketing dollars towards influencers. However, expectations of control over message and content are becoming more stringent, while consumers are encountering #ad fatigue in their Instagram stories. If this medium is going to continue to evolve it needs a metamorphosis.”

Rachel Kay
President at Rachel Kay Public Relations (RKPR)


“Nanoinfluencers are an important group of people who have a unique influence on a specific topic with an engaged community. Don’t forget about them in your outreach plans.”

Sarah Evans
PR Consultant I Digital Correspondent I Founder/CEO at Sevans strategy


influencer-marketing-rachel-kay-quote


PR and marketing integration

Beautifully continued onto the previous trend is the call for marketing and PR to work together. These two communication areas have become so interwoven, one is not complete without the other. Nadine General, VP of Agency Nonprofit Services at Dixon Schwabl, and Stella Low, CCO at Cisco, said about this:

“Significant PR trend that we’re sure to see, or we at least should practice (and in most cases hopefully be continuing) in 2020 is PR integration at the onset of ideation and a given hub of the marketing function. PR should play a significant role in the strategic process from inception of marketing campaigns to address the business objectives, not a mere handoff at the tactical completion.”

Nadine General
VP of Agency Nonprofit Services at Dixon Schwabl


pr-marketing-role-nadine-general-quote


“Marketing & Communications lines are blurring: Communications needs to be more strategic than ever, becoming multi-media content producers, story-makers and owners of influencer engagement.”

Stella Low
CCO at Cisco


marketing-comms-stella-low-quote


Not only this, but PR and marketing need to collaborate on bringing ethics at the forefront of all activities:

“Companies need to create a culture of ethical marketing beyond their communication departments. Truth, accuracy, objectivity, and fairness in marketing need to penetrate all areas of a company. PR will be there driving the effort as the conscience of the organization.”

Deirdre Breakenridge
CEO at Pure Performance Communications I Author at LinkedIn Learning


The importance of content & related tools

In the quest for finding stories worth telling and spreading amazing stories that will entertain the audience – once again, marketing and PR have found their way to each other. The importance of content in marketing is indisputable. Moreover, as marketing and PR become more entwined, the same starts to hold true for content and PR. And in the process of creating said content, few things have become as important as tools.

Here’s exactly what we can expect content-wise in 2020:

“We will see more tools to help ease the content creation process (e.g. design, writing, etc.). I’d love to see these packaged together in a full suite to make creating more efficient.”

Sarah Evans
PR Consultant I Digital Correspondent I Founder/CEO at Sevans strategy


On news aggregated via apps to mobile devices: “This macro trend continues and cannot be ignored. Plus, “mobile first” should be a mantra for all content.” 
On the visual: “It’s noisy out there and images/video will attract the most attention.”

Stella Low
CCO at Cisco


content-tools-sarah-evans-quote


Analytics

Data, data, data. If we repeat it enough times, it might take. 

Nadine General has said that “data use, understanding, storytelling, and predictive analytics to inform future outputs is what should be expected in 2020.

Collecting, reading, and interpreting data helps PR professionals wade through waters of unceasing change in market demands, understanding the target audience, predicting possible outcomes and quantifying results. Thus, the need for analytics tools has been borne.

In regard to influencer marketing, Rachel Kay says:

“With Instagram doing away with likes, it’ll be harder than ever to quantify and justify success, so tools that drive and measure direct to consumer sales will become more valuable than ever. The benefit for PR is that we’ll better be able to demonstrate the value of our activities.”


There you have it – ethics, influencer marketing, PR-marketing symbiosis, content, and analytics – the not-at-all-distant future of PR.

During 2020, we’ll be right there with you in staying on top of all the latest happenings, tools and tech in the PR and marketing industry – as any self-respecting media monitoring company would.

To stay up-to-date with all things PR & marketing as this turbulent year continues to unfurl, you’ll want to track all relevant topics and events – and media monitoring can help.

Nowadays it is all about immediate reaction, and Mediatoolkit will let you know about every article, hashtag, or commentary about current PR & marketing events.


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