Top 5 PR Trends for 2018

Sophie Wilson, CEO & Founder of our partner company, communications agency Tuesday Media, gives her thoughts on what this year has in store for brands from a PR perspective.

Authenticity is key

In 2017, TIME Magazine featured the ‘Silence Breakers’, those who spoke out in the wake of the #metoo campaign following the breaking of the Weinstein allegations, as their ‘Person of the Year’. This signals a paradigm shift: those who speak fearlessly from the heart were designated as the most effective and poignant communicators. Audiences increasingly crave an ‘authentic voice’, so brands and businesses should give thought as to how they can continually communicate their true personality and values. This means going right back to your vision and values and ensuring that every person in the business at every touchpoint is familiar with it.

Demonstrable purpose should be at the heart of brand campaigns

Last year we various brands jumped on several cause-related bandwagons, from Absolut Vodka to Skittles showing support for Pride 2017. However, good CSR is about more than turning your brand colours rainbow for a day. As Generation Z continues to crave purpose and invest in brands with a cause at their heart, those who can actually turn their declarations of support into genuine policies will resonate with audiences in 2018. CSR claims can often feel empty and hollow without a solid strategy to back them up. Time to put social responsibility front and centre of your communications strategy.

Reputation relies on radical transparency

In today’s culture of smartphones, social media and perhaps an increasing confidence to ‘call out’ bad behavior, there is no denying that we are living in a world of accountability. This is no doubt a good thing, but it means there is nowhere to hide for brands behaving badly. Last year United Airlines, Ryanair, Uber and even Hollywood itself found themselves knee deep in crisis for everything from misogyny to overt racism. Unsurprisingly, reputation and share prices suffered. To avoid similar crises, brands should be mindful to build a communications strategy around transparency and their core values if they want to attract and retain fans and followers.

Creativity is still at the heart of all good campaigns

‘Content is king’ is an oft-quoted saying in media and has been for some years. But it’s not going away. In our smart phone saturated world, strong creative is more necessary than ever. PR has traditionally been a discipline of crafting a headline, but with media converging and audience tastes changing, and client’s budgets squeezing, PRs are under increasing pressure to deliver. Clients increasingly want to buy creativity and ideas from their agencies, as well as simply coverage. Great ideas will always translate across media channels and resonate with audiences. Both brands and agencies need to work together, being open minded and embracing new ways of working (including hiring in talent or co productions between agencies with complementary skill sets) to keep explosive campaign ideas (and audience attention) coming.

The collision of PR and SEO

PR has traditionally been somewhat difficult to measure and although standards such as AVE (advertising equivalent value) have been adopted in the past, the truth is that they are meaningless to modern day marketers. Digital agencies, on the other hand, have worked with metrics, reporting and analytics since Day Dot. SEO and PR are two disciplines that have previously sat in different silos, but smart marketers know that the way forward is to join up a strategy that links the storytelling of PR with the metrics of SEO, to move brands up the search rankings and prove bang for their marketing buck. Embracing SEO and PR together will be the key to success in 2018 and beyond.

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