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The Changes in Store for 2016: Trendspotting for the New Year


December 2, 2015

[ikon images/corbis]
[ikon images/corbis]

Editor’s Note: Michael Herman, APR, Fellow PRSA, who conceived the idea for this column, passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. His one and only column appeared in the January issue of Tactics. Members of the PRSA Counselors Academy will continue to contribute their thoughts in this space in Mike’s honor.

If there’s one constant in the practice of public relations, then it’s change. Change that’s seismic — from the nonstop creation and rollout of new technologies that reduce the news cycle to a matter of seconds, eroding the impact of the mainstream media, to the ascendance of storytelling, content and influencer marketing in brand building, protection and reputation management.

Public relations, with its power to make news, spark conversation and engage, in real-time, with targeted macro and micro, is ideally suited to assume a prominent role at the business strategy table, now and in the future.

That’s my prediction for 2016, and for more trendspotting, I turned to my fellow Counselors Academy members, who are all senior agency leaders. Here’s what they had to say:


“Technology will dictate our future. Thirty years ago, when I started my agency, we communicated via telephone, fax and snail mail. We now communicate via email, videoconferencing, texting and social media. No one predicted that Facebook, Twitter and Periscope would dominate communications. Technology that has not yet been invented will greatly impact the PR profession in ways we cannot anticipate, but must embrace. What should not change is providing solid counsel to our clients on how to tell their stories in an ever-changing media and consumer environment.” — Pam Golden, president, GLA Communications

“It’s only logical that public relations and search should work hand in hand. By treating the two as interdependent tools in your marketing toolkit — like a drill and a drill bit — you’ll realize amplified results in both public relations and search marketing. Smart PR professionals will ensure — just as we did with social media — that search marketing is firmly rooted in the PR discipline.” — Mike Neumeier, APR, principal and co-founder, Arketi Group

“Search and content merge together to create the fabric of how we generate awareness and influence action. It’s an opportunity for PR professionals to broaden our skill sets into data collection and analysis, audience segmentation and automated technologies to provide targeted and relevant communications that move audiences through the sales funnel. In the process, we become invaluable to the organizations we serve.” — Lisa Gerber, founder, Big Leap Creative

“We need to embrace the idea — and make sure our organizations understand — that ‘media’ is no longer just traditional outlets (television, radio, print). Media is anywhere it is appropriate for the audience to receive information (blogs, social, push/mobile). And with that comes an increased accountability to what and how we share content.” — Abbie S. Fink, vice president and general manager, HMA Public Relations

“I’m going to pay even more attention to what Google calls micro-moments: all those times during the day when we reflexively turn to our smartphones to satisfy those incessant ‘I want to know/go/do/buy’ impulses. For me, that’s a rallying cry for public relations on two fronts. First, we must understand what motivates our audiences and the type of content they’re searching for in the moment. Second, we need to get untethered from our desktops, put on our walking shoes, and then create and distribute short, visual, meaningful stories that stand out and help people when they’re on the go.” — Martin Waxman, president, Martin Waxman Communications

“The erosion of traditional news sources by social and digital media will continue to provide opportunities for the PR and communications profession. Content generation and thought leadership will remain key components for success in our profession.” — Tom Garrity, president, The Garrity Group Public Relations

Deborah Weinstein Deborah Weinstein is president of Toronto PR firm Strategic Objectives, IABC/Toronto PR Agency of the Year 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011 and 2009. She serves on the executive committee of PRSA’s Counselors Academy. Follow her on Twitter: @debweinstein.



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