Some of my fellow bloggers have been banging out PR trends for 2009, so I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon. And since I now have two weeks of insight into this New Year, my predictions will no doubt be far more accurate than theirs.
Here’s my list:
The Gatekeepers Look Scared
One of the most challenging things about media relations has always been coming up with a creative pitch you think the media will like, getting the media’s attention long enough to pitch it, hoping they like it enough to run with it and then praying the media doesn’t run to a water-main break instead of covering your media event. But for today’s PR pros, there are numerous avenues around the Gatekeepers and directly to your target audience. As the media continues to feel the financial pressure of a downturn, the Gatekeepers will become more scarce. Become fluent in all the ways to reach your target audience and you’ll still be able to do your job regardless of the Gatekeepers.
This isn’t your Father’s Public Relations
On a similar vein, the changing media landscape is changing our business. We now need to be fully conversant in media relations tools that didn’t exist 5 years ago. Social media, mobile media and the like are great ways to start conversations, and after all we are in the conversation business. Think about all the ways you can start conversations with your target audiences and develop resources to navigate those channels. Get aboard or get left behind.
The World is Changing, Change with It
In the past, “diversity” was frequently given lip service while business was conducted as usual. No more my friends. The demographics of this country are changing rapidly and the Obama Administration will be the face of a New America. Hispanics will continue to grow in population and increase their economic and political clout. Other ethnic and racial groups will become energized and outspoken about having their place at the table. Design outreach strategies for these groups or suffer the consequences.
Global Warming Heats Up
Despite economic turbulence and see-sawing gas prices, Climate Change as a critical global issue is here to stay. The incoming administration has made it a priority and PR pros need to be able to tell a positive environmental story about their company or client. The best organizations will design proactive environmental programs that make it easy for their PR folks to communicate effectively to target audiences.
Back to Basics
Despite the increase in tools and technology relevant to our business, there is no substitution for effective communication. While the look and sound of that communication may change, one thing that doesn’t change is the critical need to make yourself understood by your target audience. Effective writing doesn’t just mean good mechanics, it means communicating effectively so that the message is received and acted upon. Good communicators are hard to find, treasure them.
Research and Measurement are Necessary Evils
Too many organizations and clients today want to do things on the fly or on the cheap. Unfortunately, when you shoot the gun without aiming first, you will often miss. The way to take aim is to conduct research on your issue, your product, your audience, your message, your media and so on until you develop a communications strategy that you can have confidence in. Similarly, measurement must be done to determine if goals were reached (assuming you had measurable goals in the first place) and then adjust your strategy based on your findings. Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to research and measurement.
Doing Less With More
I’m a stickler for doing things right, but at the end of the day you can only do the best you can with the resources you have. That’s why it’s so important to find creative ways to harness the resources to do the job right. Internal resources can often be begged and bartered, external vendors are more willing to strike a deal to get some work. Don’t be afraid to be creative or haggle when it comes to marshaling resources.
SEO Needs SOS
Search engine optimization isn’t just for web heads anymore. Nearly all of your target audiences will seek out information about your company by using a search engine. All of the great PR in the world won’t help if the search engine results are not flattering, are inaccurate or point to a competitor. PR people need to be vigilant about their organization or client’s search engine results and take action when necessary. SEO strategies frequently span PR and web disciplines, so talk to your web colleagues today so you’ll be ready tomorrow.
Social Media Changes Everything
Social Media has created a tsunami of change for traditional media. Newspaper circulation and ad dollars are plummeting while tech savvy consumers get their news from the web, from cell phones and from non-traditional sources like the blogosphere (because that’s the way we bloggers roll). Networking sites like facebook and LinkedIn have created social and business networks that are radically changing the communications landscape due to their insular nature. Many media consumers now feel they have everything they need within their network platforms and needn’t venture out to get anything else. I can get a job, post a job, keep up with friends, keep abreast of current events and even buy products and services, often without going far from my network. Finding ways to intersect and disrupt social networks without intruding will increasingly become a sought-after area of expertise.
Those are my Public Relations Predictions for 2009. Feel free to put them to work for you.