The success traditional PR offers a brand’s reputation and business growth is invaluable, but it’s clear that the conventional media approach is no longer enough. Yes, securing media coverage—gauging positive sentiments on behalf of a brand, of course—or a keynote speaking opportunity substantiates the investment companies make on a communications strategy. But in this digitally-savvy, ever-connected media paradigm we know today, PR just isn’t that simple anymore.
The truth is that PR, as we once understood it, is shrinking. The practice is waning in the continued takeover of digital media, presenting a sheer reality we can’t afford to deny. As industry professionals, we must stay fresh, in-demand and future-forward, and this requires us to look within, and most importantly, outside of our own industry to stay ahead in a business that has been traditionally slow to transform. No longer limited to reputation management, speaker procurements and press outreach, PR is morphing into an integrated, collaborative role that requires both a higher level of thinking and desegregated approaches.
In 2019, a change in mindset and skillset will define the role of the communications professional — evoking more creativity and engagement beyond the written word.
To stay ahead of the industry’s shrinking landscape, here are a few predictions that will provoke a new mindset for the PR profession:
Take digital storytelling to the next level
From retail and entertainment to advertising and now communications, immersive storytelling has cornered just about every market today. Both PR and journalism are experiencing breakthrough technological advances as storytelling moves beyond 2-D. The next iteration of innovation in PR will advance far beyond traditional case studies, press releases and B-roll and will include immersive storytelling.
Viral video content, 360-degree video and the imminent rise of virtual and augmented realities will present a different way for PR professionals to tell stories in 2019.
Content has moved beyond written semantics thanks to the advent of immersive storytelling and audiences are demanding this level of engagement.
One way for industry professionals to accelerate into this trend is by way of ONA’s (the Online News Association) Journalism 360 program. In an effort to appease the growing consumer appetite for digital storytelling, Journalism 360 was designed to help content creators and beyond experiment with all facets of immersive storytelling, from 360 video to mixed reality. In a world consumed with immersive experiences, expanding your skills to include immersive storytelling appeals to brands who have a desire to create innovative and disruptive campaigns.
Follow the PESO model
Expanding your mindset beyond traditional PR will require industry professionals to think like digital marketers, social media managers and even brand strategist. PR pros will need to rely on the PESO Model (paid, earned, shared and owned content) to adopt the same data-driven mindset as savvy marketers. As an agency, we always approach content creation through unified efforts. For example, our PR and marketing teams work collaboratively by integrating existing long-form content with other digital channels such as email marketing and social media to create compelling content.
As companies become more customer-centric in their approach, there will be an increased responsibility for PR and marketing professionals to conspire further to foster better integrated campaigns for clients.
Redefining branded content
From branded podcast and newsrooms to vlogs and live video segments, today’s brands are becoming more agile in creating unique, owned content. No longer reserved for journalists, companies like Coca-Cola and UPS are publishing their own news and editorial content to newsrooms that live on their websites. Because of this, PR professionals will be tasked with producing more content that emulates the 24/7/365 news cycle. Curating unique content that appeals to brand audiences will require PR professionals to begin thinking like a television producer of a scripted series, or even the advertising executive behind Google’s ingenious “Home Alone” remake commercial.
As storytellers, sharpening our craft of creative narration will be in high demand, especially as audiences crave more authenticity out of companies, ultimately redefining the way brands continue to approach content.
These predictions fueling the future PR profession reveal to us that the only constant trend in communications is change. PR is now at the point of no return. As an industry, we must adapt and take heed to the endless variety of new opportunities at our disposal. The other side is that if we resist or refuse, we risk getting left behind.
Nikkia Adolphe is PR Director at Media Frenzy Global in Atlanta.