illustration by Lydia Davey

5 Cutting-Edge PR Trends for 2016

You may not think of hiring a public relations firm as a viable small business expense. But a growing PR tech ecosystem is driving affordability, effectiveness, and a new accountability in the industry. Here are five ways you can tap emerging trends to increase leads and grow your reputation.

1. Big Data for Better Campaigns

Big data isn’t a new concept, but it has been recently democratized for PR professionals through tools like Google Trends, Facebook Signal, MOZ Content, Optimizely, and Cision. These tools empower your PR firm to compare industry search trends, easily track the press your competitors are receiving, access powerful media contact databases, and reach your ideal customers with timely, relevant messages.

What does this mean for small businesses? There is no longer an excuse for PR firms to claim they’re “non-technical.”

Look for a PR firm that recognizes, studies, and knows how to use the opportunities big data brings.

Steven Sinofsky, a Board Partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is famous for reminding hungry entrepreneurs that, “Data is just one tool.” In the world of PR tech, you also need a firm who can use that data to tell a compelling story.

2. Rise of the PR Marketplace

Expect to see more marketplaces like Air PR (recently acquired by The CHR Group) that connect businesses to the right PR representation for specific projects. Small businesses, who already distrust their agencies, are increasingly realizing that a monthly retainer makes less financial sense than project-based support.

In 2016, look forward to the refreshing trend of talented specialists competing for your work.

3. Meet Your New Freelancer

We live in a world where the $300 billion global freelance market is exploding. By 2020, nearly half of America’s workforce is predicted to be working as freelancers. The challenge of this reality (how to find the right talent in such a massive pool?) carries within it the seeds of its own salvation:

  • Competition for your business will be fierce.
  • Mobile workers mean low overheads.
  • The incentive for your PR freelancer of choice to learn and compete will be massive.

Freelancers who understand how to get results will be elevated by crowd-sourced review platforms like Yelp and Google, while finding talent that specializes in your industry will be easier than ever thanks to PR marketplaces.

4. Track Your ROI — Finally!

Thanks to free tools like Google Analytics, and paid tools like UnMetric, your ability to track the impact of a PR investment is easier than ever. See which media placements are driving the most traffic through your doors or to your site. Track which messages are getting the most social engagement.

Analyze and invest again — even more effectively this time.

Review your success with a beautifully simple report generated by Coverage Book.

5. New Micro-Content Tools

Snackable content in the form of digital videos is trending strongly for 2016, and for good reason. Did you know that adding a video to your landing page can boost conversions by 40%? PR firms will turn to mediums like Visual.ly and Filmzu to help produce testimonials, marketing, and explainer videos that will build your brand.

As the micro-content trend grows, expect your PR firm to use platforms like ShareAsImage to rapidly produce beautiful, affordable, brand-consistent images for social sharing.

Have more questions about PR for your business in 2016? Tweet your questions to me here.

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