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‘Tis the season – predictions are the order of the day and the PR industry is no different. Here are my picks for the top 3 PR trends in 2018.

Content strategy

The number of brands that consider a content strategy effective in raising revenue increased from 74% in 2016 to 83% in 2017. (CMI.) However, only 31% have a documented strategy. It should come as no surprise then that the ability to craft a content strategy is the number one skill CMOs are looking for in 2018.

What does it take to deliver an effective content strategy?

  • Understanding the goals of the brand
  • Knowing everything possible about the audience you want to reach – who they are, where they hang out online, who their influencers are, what they read and respond to, what they like and dislike and what they’re looking for in terms of content.
  • How to create effective content that speaks to your audience’s needs and meets the brand’s goals.
  • A talent pool that can craft relevant messages that resonate in real time and produce ROI.

Data Driven PR

As you can see from the content strategy, it’s all about the data. And every part of your PR plan should be data-driven now. The days of “bright ideas” or trial and error are over. The data is available. You have to learn to gather it, slice and dice it, analyze it and extract the insights that drive your PR strategy and actions.

There are many tools available to harvest data about your customers and stakeholders, both internally and externally: CRM systems, social media analytics, web analytics and more. Some smart systems have all this data available in one platform.

Not only should you be gathering and analyzing data, there are new tools you need to master too. Stay abreast of the rapidly advancing capabilities of AI and machine learning in conversational tools like chatbots. The idea is for these bots to use data, AI and machine learning to evolve and develop a “brand personality” and hold a conversation without annoying the person they’re talking to. That is a pure communication function right there.

But if it is to be a PR function you will have to understand how it work -s or find a vendor or consultant that can advise and guide you. This could be a huge opportunity for PR Agencies in 2018.

The value of earned media grows – and everyone wants to grab control of it.

As response rates for paid media dwindle, the interest in earned media is growing. A recent study showed that B2B companies are interested in allocating more of their marketing budgets to earned media, but it is somewhat of a mystery for those not skilled in PR and media relations. And as the media landscape keeps shifting, even experienced PR pros are discovering that earned media is not what it used to be.

The decimation of newsroom staff will continue and there’ll be even fewer reporters, editors and TV producers to pitch. And they’re getting very picky about what they publish. While news websites do have a voracious appetite for content, they are also data driven now. It’s all about the traffic and the clicks. Just sending a blast of press releases indiscriminately doesn’t get the coverage. You have to become way smarter and understand how the news media thinks and what they need.

And as the demand for earned media increases, so too will the number of players in the game. All kinds of agencies are pushing to get a piece of the pie. PR is the natural home for earned media, but you’ll have to show your C-suite or your clients that you can deliver the goods in this competitive environment.