The shifting media landscape characterised by media outlets downsizing, closing or transitioning to online operations, prompts new questions around the future of PR as an industry.
The growing focus on social and content adds another dimension to the debate. Is social media a boon or a threat to PR professionals? Does the rise of content marketing and branded storytelling play into PR’s hands, or does it take from the industry?
My view is the future of PR is an exciting one, with the fast-moving media backdrop setting the stage for PR’s evolution.
Here are my predictions for the future of PR.
PR will reclaim storytelling
While storytelling is the buzz word of the moment, particularly around the growth of content marketing, it has always been at the core of what PR is about. Telling the stories about people and organisations to existing or new audiences is a critical element of PR – and always has been.
PR professionals didn’t invent the art of storytelling (oral storytelling traditions are a very human trait, passed down through generations for thousands of years), but they are adept at finding the stories that resonate with others, and then sharing them.
The relationships PR people and their clients work so hard to build and foster are built on the foundation of engaging stories.
PR will diversify
PR as an industry has broadened beyond just media liaison and strategy, resulting in PR people becoming multi-skilled across a range of disciplines.
We need to be experts in digital engagement, SEO, website management, email marketing and content development and marketing, as well as expanding media relations to include blogger engagement.
Our future counterparts will embrace even more technology in their roles as storytellers, brand engagement experts and even in the ways they work if they are virtual consultants.
Marketing, digital, content marketing and advertising will continue to converge. PR will touch on all disciplines in this evolving collaborative environment as organisations work to increase community engagement and relevance.
What others are saying about a brand is more relevant than ever before, because those comments and opinions are made in real time and can span multiple media platforms. Therefore, PR people’s listening skills will be honed even further through monitoring what is being said about a brand online and offline.
Social media will no longer be an added extra
Social media monitoring and support has already been adopted by the PR industry over the past decade, with many agencies and consultants including it as an add-on to existing PR services. However, social media will be completely integrated into PR’s offering going forward, with many PR campaigns leveraging social media first and traditional media second.
As an industry, we have been quick to jump on the opportunities presented by social media. Social media and PR just fit well together. PR people understand how important social media is as a way to communicate directly with our clients’ target audiences, and in many situations these platforms will become the sole way to engage with a niche.
Social media has also added another facet to the “relations” side of PR. Instead of broadcasting a message or story to start off the relationship-building process, social media has made it much easier to start and have a conversation around a topic, person or cause, bringing the level of engagement up.
The current digital and media landscape will not lead to the demise of PR, but instead presents an opportunity to use new methods and tactics to do what comes very naturally to us – tell stories.