January 3, 2013
With the start of a new year comes a host of expert predictions in the media, about everything from fashion’s color of the year (emerald) to emerging stock market trends.
As PR professionals, we’re accustomed to leveraging industry predictions on behalf of our clients; but what trends will we see in our own profession during 2013?
Here’s a look at the PR and social media developments that will challenge and inspire us this year:
The rise of blogging and social media has increased the volume of online news and the speed at which it’s available, often at the expense of quality reporting. Misinformation and rumors can spread quickly and trigger considerable backlash, especially when a news organization compromises accuracy in the name of speed (as evidenced by CNN and Fox News’s memorable misreporting of the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare reform).
The citizen journalist’s 15 minutes of fame are running out and information-overloaded consumers will demand a higher standard of reporting in 2013.
The rise of infographics, photo sharing and visual storytelling will push PR pros to deploy visual messages to compete in a crowded content market. All Things D reported that in August of this year, smartphone users spent more time on Instagram than on Twitter for the first time since the photo sharing app launched in 2010.
This reflects a broad shift toward visual content in the digital space. As the saying goes, “a picture’s worth a thousand words” — more important, it might also be worth your customer’s attention.
PR practitioners have learned to draft compelling email pitch subject lines and deliver a message in 140 characters. The next step will be crafting mobile-friendly content as millions of consumers (and journalists) turn to their phones as their primary news source.
The Daily taught us that it’s not enough to format a publication with a mobile device in mind; rather, the key will be developing content that effectively reaches the right audience at the right time. Delivery is king, but brevity is queen.
More brands will leverage LinkedIn to monitor conversations and connect with customers and influencers. New and enhanced features on the site, such as its “endorse” capability (which employs the one-click validation of a Facebook “Like”) and new profile and company page designs encourage users to spend more time building their personal brands — especially in a difficult job market where millions of people are still looking for work.
Companies, particularly those in the B2B arena, increasingly recognize the site’s marketing potential. Finally, as adoption and activity on LinkedIn reach critical mass, journalists will spend more time using the platform for research, identifying sources and breaking stories.
The 2012 election generated record-breaking activity on Twitter, and more recently, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and Hamas militaries used the platform to communicate to international government officials and the public about the violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As citizens in the United States and around the world demand increased transparency from governments, officials at every level from local to national will start turning to social media to stay connected with their constituents. Social media will see an increase of political conversations in 2013, driving its adoption as a news source for citizens, media and the government.
The debate about which corporate discipline ‘owns’ social media is practically as old as social media itself. Public relations, marketing, branding, advertising and customer service all have skin in the game, and that’s just to name a few.
As more organizations recognize the opportunities (and threats) that social media present to their reputation, they are reaching out to PR agencies and practitioners for support. PR pros have always been charged with managing the dialogue between an organization and the public, and will emerge as trendsetters in the social space by providing valuable communications counsel and achieving results that directly impact clients’ bottom lines.
The dynamic nature of the PR landscape compels dedicated professionals to continually learn new skills and adopt creative approaches to go above and beyond for clients.
Regardless of what type of clients you serve, 2013 is sure to be a year of change for the PR profession.
Sandra Fathi is president and founder of Affect, a PR and social media agency. She is also the current PRSA Tri-State District Chair. She has spent the past 20 years helping technology companies achieve their communications goals. Prior to founding Affect in 2002, she led corporate communications and investor relations for RADVISION and worked on the technology team at Edelman Public Relations Worldwide. Twitter: @sandrafathi.