Melissa DiGianfilippoMelissa DiGianfilippo

It’s hard to believe that 2020 is here! It’s the dawn of a new decade, sort of like a clean slate. It all sounds quite futuristic, which is fitting because it’s already shaping up to be one of the most digitally-driven years to date. Interestingly, 20/20 also represents perfect vision, which is appropriate since “seeing things as they are” is driving many of the trends. Finally, it’s also an election year. That’s a lot of variables to consider.

So, what should we expect to see in the industry this year? Here are five trends many PR and marketing professionals are already seeing:

Social influencer shake-up

Expect to see micro-influencers favored over macro-influencers this year. In recent years, many social influencers have been earning big money from branded and sponsored content. The even bigger question has always been whether they’re worth the investment. 2020 will be a gamechanger for those influencers who have used purchased likes and follows to inflate follower counts and artificially boost their perceived influence. Falsified engagement isn’t showing brands a valid, measurable return, so it’s game over for fake influencers. Consumers are getting smarter about influencers repping brands that aren’t authentic to them, and they just aren’t buying it. Brands are also getting smart about verifying influencers. They’re closely tracking ROI and will make adjustments to their media mix accordingly.

Data will be every PR pro’s best friend

With digital becoming an integral part of everyday life, it’s become essential for PR pros to be able to interpret data. It’s no exaggeration to say that 2020 will be the most digitally-driven year to date, so data will play a more significant role in campaign strategies than ever before. It’s necessary for guiding PR efforts, measuring the impact of campaigns, and proving the overall value of PR. In 2020, we can expect consumers to become even more wary of advertising, so PR efforts will need to be smarter, more authentic, and more engaging. Expect 2020’s PR pros to continue using in-depth and precise data to reshape the way campaigns are crafted, executed, measured, and evaluated.

No more hiding emotion

People connect with people, not brands. They’re hungry for the authenticity and real engagement that smart brands will be serving up. In 2020, PR pros must embrace the human element to remain relevant to their target audiences. By crafting meaningful content, immersive stories, and experiential events that provoke an emotional response, brands can earn a place in the hearts—and wallets—of their customers.

Say goodbye to the traditional PR pitch

If you want to optimize earned media to its highest potential, PR pros will need to offer more than just the traditional press pitch via email. To draw journalists in, use short videos, experiences, and vibrant photos to bring the pitch to life. And don’t be afraid to connect with journalists via social channels - they’re engaging with people on social media frequently.

While a brand story or business’s message might be pitched to journalists in different media formats, ultimately, stories will need to be shared on the right channels for a broader target audience reach. PR pros will need to consider all aspects of their clients’ impressions, both socially and digitally. Keeping that in mind, PR pros must guide their clients to the types of content to create. From there, they must create original content—such as a video—or organize social media takeovers by influencers or key leaders within the business/brand. These are all opportunities for earned media that pros have full control over., so don’t let them pass by.

Less media placement opportunity

It’s an election year, and that means placement shortages. During an election year, media coverage is tightly focused on anything election-related from political scandals and questionable sound bites to a ton of op-ed pieces. Of course, it will be undeniably more challenging to find appropriate angles and the right timing for clients. Combat the issue of placement by understanding the news cycle. Be mindful of major political events like rallies or debates which will dominate the news.

In 2020, PR pros and their clients must get innovative to get noticed in all the election noise. Find a nugget, and run with it. Consider voicing an opinion or taking a stance when it’s appropriate, as consumers are increasingly supporting brands that align with their core beliefs and values.


Melissa DiGianfilippo is President of PR at Serendipit Consulting in Phoenix.