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Still Trending: A Changing Media Landscape

In the public relations field, advancements in brand journalism, media marketing and niche-influencer relationships are being made at the speed of light … maybe faster.

In my last blog post, I discussed current trends in journalism, noting the most prominent trend is industry-wide reform, caused by the overwhelming shift to visual, digital and data-driven content – which can be felt across communications, marketing and public relations alike.

These alterations mean it’s more important than ever for public relations professionals to keep their thumb on the pulse of change that impacts the industry. Aside from transformation, there are other trends impacting the public relations industry. A couple worth noting include:

  • Social media leads industry growth
  • A renewed importance of crisis communication
  • Death of audiences

Industry Growth

In 2015, USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations in conjunction with the Holmes Report created the first Global Communications Report, containing a comprehensive worldwide survey of more than 1,000 senior public relations executives.

According to the results of that report, the industry is headed nowhere but up.

Agency leaders predict the business will grow $5.3 billion over a five-year period, and its headcount will increase over the same period by 26 percent.

In the same report, survey results regarding content creation predict that although traditional media is still ranked relatively high, industry leaders in agencies and in-house believe growth will be driven by social media, followed by the conventional activities like brand reputation. So, it’s more important than ever to build your social media skills.

Crisis Communication

To quickly touch on brand reputation, the transparency of multi-billion dollar corporations like Uber and United Airlines fell under scrutiny during the first six months of the year. In response, their respective public relations professionals frantically referred to their – in my opinion – dusty crisis communications plans, which did not include a chapter on social media backlash. These oversights led to prolonged negative conversations in the absence of a proactive strategy.

Yes, social media changed the game in terms of content creation, but these days it’s about more than likes, it’s about having a strategy or a measurable idea that can appropriately respond to and engage with a community. Social media communities are braver than ever, and (rightfully) quick to criticize an idea that harms the group, so brands should always combat backlash with transparency.

More consistently we’re seeing the consequences of moving one step behind a motivated audience on social media, and the benefits of having a well-thought out, modernized crisis communications plan.

Death of Audiences

At NST, we use behavioral strategy as the foundation for everything we do. Our agency works with our clients to identify an appropriate strategic approach to determine how we can seamlessly integrate tactics.

We know there is no point in strategizing social media content, or any content, if it doesn’t convince the community to act on that “like.” To go out into the world and do something about that “like.”

I refer to a community, because an “audience” is dead. An audience refers to a group of people watching, and not acting, while a community is an active group seeking a new experience or idea.

So, how do we need to change conversations with our clients and colleagues to anticipate that desire to act?
As a former journalist and current public relations professional, I have seen both sides of the communications industry and know that it’s not static, it’s dynamic – and it doesn’t stop growing or changing.

That kind of environment requires that we think harder about how we communicate with colleagues, brands and communities, because if we don’t – we are guaranteed to fall short, fade out, and join the rest of the group who could not adapt to the trends of this brave new media landscape.

Leave us a comment on Facebook and tell us: What do you think is this year’s most important communications trend?

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