|Kerry Anne Watson|
The future of public relations is evolving at the speed of culture. With advancements in technology, evolving media landscapes and shifting consumer expectations, our industry must evolve as well. And with the adaption of AI, many PR pros are wondering what the implications are for the future of the industry. Below are 10 key developments we see shaping the future of PR.
Pitch perfect. In a short timeframe, there have been several AI-assisted tools developed that can help PR professionals tailor information for pitches to increase the likeliness of earning media coverage. Newsroom employment has fallen 26 percent since 2008, even as demand for online content has wildly increased. With newsrooms continuing to shrink, media outlets have fewer full-time writers to utilize. What this means for the PR industry is that their pitches be perfect, spot on and immediately usable. In addition to tools like Grammarly, Cision and Meltwater, there are newer AI platforms such as PRophet and PitchPrefer, which evaluate your pitch, predict media interest and help draft personalized copy to interested journalists. AI can give us the ability to quickly and more easily tailor messages to specific audiences, which in turn can improve the effectiveness of outreach efforts.
Digital dominance. There’s no surprise that the increasing reliance on digital platforms and technologies is transforming the PR landscape. PR professionals are utilizing digital tools and analytics to gather insights, monitor online conversations and measure the impact of their campaigns. Social media, content marketing, influencer collaborations and online reputation management have become integral parts of PR strategies.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's July '23 Travel & Tourism PR Magazine
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Data-driven insights. By analyzing the interactions between users and AI platforms like ChatGPT, PR professionals can gain valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, pain points and emerging trends. These insights aid in refining PR strategies, targeting specific audiences and delivering tailored messages. AI is providing new tools and capabilities to help us to be more efficient, strategic and effective, however, it’s not able to replace human intelligence and judgment.
Personalized and targeted communication. With the abundance of data and analytics, PR professionals can now tailor their communication strategies to target specific audiences. Personalized messaging and customized campaigns are becoming more prevalent to connect with individuals on a more meaningful level. The use of data-driven insights allows PR practitioners to understand their audience’s behaviors and interests, enabling them to deliver more relevant and engaging content.
Diversity and inclusion matter. A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion public relations strategy is vital for organizations that strive to commit to promoting and celebrating diversity. The failure of most corporate DEI programs is that they’ve become a statement-only strategy (“Our commitment to diversity”), without real change. Brands that want to attract new customers and foster loyalty, especially with Millennials and Gen Z, will need to ensure that they have examples for any DEI statements they make. Any brands who will try to use DEI policies merely as a “PR ploy” will backfire. Overall, the DEI PR strategy should seek to foster an environment that allows for open and honest conversations while celebrating differences and advancing the company’s mission.
Newer platform outreach. With the elimination of print outlets in the media universe, clients still expect the same number of eyes on their brands. PR pros will diversify their outreach and pitch newer platforms and content mediums, such as podcasts and newsletters. As the nature of PR opportunities available continues to shift, PR pros will continue to use more varied channels to identify the right ones for their clients. With channels such as Qwoted, Substack, Muck Rack, HARO, Twitter and Slack for media outlets, it’s easier than ever for reporters to request expert sources and for PR pros to respond and pitch emerging platforms. One of the greatest things about the increase in podcasts is that they are niche specific … there’s truly a podcast for every audience. While the numbers are not massive in many cases, audience members are highly engaged and interested in the topic at hand. Newsletters are another great way for companies to build brand awareness with individuals who would have the most propensity to engage with their brand.
Authenticity and transparency. Consumers are increasingly demanding authenticity and transparency from organizations. PR professionals need to build trust and credibility by ensuring open and honest communication. This includes addressing public concerns, being accountable for mistakes and engaging with stakeholders in a transparent manner. PR campaigns that showcase the human side of organizations and emphasize their ethical practices are likely to gain traction.
Influencer marketing. PR professionals are collaborating with influencers and key opinion leaders to reach target audiences effectively. Influencers help to amplify brand messages and create authentic connections with their followers. However, as the field becomes more saturated, PR practitioners must carefully select influencers who align with the brand and engage in effective partnerships—i.e. the rise of the “genuinfluencer” trend—rather than purely transactional relationships.
Crisis management and reputation resuscitation. In an era of social media and instant communication, crises can quickly escalate. PR professionals need to be proactive in managing crises and protecting the reputation of clients. Rapid response plans, effective communication strategies and media monitoring tools are vital in mitigating potential damage and restoring trust. Crisis simulations and preparedness trainings are also becoming more utilized to ensure brands are ready to handle any unforeseen situations.
Emphasis on measurement and ROI. PR professionals are under increasing pressure to demonstrate the value and impact of their efforts. The future of PR lies in the ability to measure outcomes and link PR activities to business goals. Advanced analytics, data-driven insights and performance metrics are being used to assess the success of PR campaigns and justify investments. Measuring the ROI of PR activities will be crucial for demonstrating the value of PR to organizational objectives.
Overall, by staying on top—or ahead—of emerging trends, PR professionals can continue to navigate the evolving media landscape and effectively engage with their target audiences to heighten awareness and conscious consideration for clients.
Kerry Anne Watson is Managing Director at The Zimmerman Agency.