PRontheGO: Public Relations experts on the biggest PR trends for 2019

PRontheGO: Public Relations experts on the biggest PR trends for 2019

The biggest trend is greater use of measurement tools. It is not enough for business owners to see vanity type results — views and likes. The move is toward engagement and ultimately acquisition. Being able to provide the tangible outcomes from PR efforts is something that the marketplace is wanting more and more. In 2019 this will become the talk of the work we do as one of Canada’s top PR firms.

1. The growing number of streaming content services make consumers harder to reach.

Already 61 percent of Americans, age 18 to 29, regularly watch or listen to what they want, where and when they want it, according to Pew Research. Apps for CBS, TBS, NBC and ABC are ad supported — only by national brands — but more dominant services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, YouTube Red, and Spotify Premium are ad-free, putting their subscribers out of reach for marketers.

2. The age of the mass media is mostly over.

It’s a niche world now. Partly that’s because marketers can now reach very specific audiences, along with nanoinfluencers, since online media can tailor content by gender, age, interest, political persuasion, etc. (Unfortunately, print media also is increasingly becoming niche, due to an ongoing reduction of the number of pages and size of their news staff combined with an increase in subscription rate.) In 2019, it’s complicated and expensive to reach a broad audience so marketers need to consider targeting key audiences through niche media.

3. The broken business model for news will cause continued problems in 2019, including an increase in “news deserts.”

It’s not only print media that will struggle in 2019, online media will struggle, too. The reason: online subscription fees are lower than print subscriptions and online ads generate less money that print ads (even though online ads provide much more useable data). We expect, unfortunately, more layoffs, smaller printer runs, smaller and less frequent issues — both online and in print. In 2019, we’re going to see a growing number of “news deserts,” defined by the UNC School of Media and Journalism’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, as “a community, either rural or urban, with limited access to the sort of credible and comprehensive news and information that feeds democracy at the grassroots level.” News deserts are a problem because it means communities aren’t getting critical information related to civic life, government services, etc.

4. Social media will continue to undergo scrutiny and it won’t look good.

And despite that, people still won’t quit Facebook, Twitter, etc. amid growing concerns about privacy and disinformation campaigns. We expect Congress and the EU, the UK and other governments to look to regulate social media. But we also expect that most won’t be able to regulate effectively because most politicians don’t have a firm grasp of how social media works. There will be more hearings but not many solutions because it’s a complex issue that algorithms alone can’t solve.

5. More apps will try to combat fake news.

Already there are at least a dozen initiatives — with names like The Trust Project, News Integrity Initiative NewsGuard, The Journalism Trust Initiative, Accountability Journalism Program, Trusting News, Trust & News Initiative and the oddly named Media Manipulation Initiative. Many are funded and staffed by journalists and also use algorithms to detect fake news. We hope they succeed but suspect they’ll be as successful as Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter have been to fight hate speech — which is to say: not very effective but better than nothing. (A.I. will get a lot of attention but trust in algorithm will decline.) In the meantime, Axios’s Jim VandHei offered some suggestions: Stop using the term — it doesn’t help. And people should “Quit sharing stories without vetting them.” (We don’t think that will happen, either.)

PRontheGO: Public Relations experts on the biggest PR trends for 2019

I’ve seen an uptick in the number of entrepreneurs and marketing managers who are looking to save money going the DIY route — and this is a totally possible and viable option for a lot of people, especially given the tools available right now. BuzzSumo will do just about everything but make you breakfast in the morning.

HARO is free to subscribe to, and enables business owners and marketing managers to act as their own PR agencies. In the last month, I’ve been featured in Fast Company twice via responding to HARO queries (on average, my team gets 10+ hits per month via HARO…just for The Content Factory, not including for our clients).

We’ve trained other people to do the same on an DIY basis, and with great results. One of the people we trained, the creator of the Yarlap, just won the first ever FemTech Award by Women’s Health Magazine for sexual wellness. The DIY route can be a cost-effective way to raise brand awareness without sinking a lot of budget into an agency retainer.

While new tools are also making it possible for people to go the DIY route, old tools and tactics are becoming less effective than they used to be (for instance, press release distribution services — I think they’re a waste of money, which I elaborate on in this post:

Besides the DIY PR trend, I’ve also noticed SEO for PR becoming more and more popular. The post I linked to above ranks #1 for press release distribution — it’s sent dozens of leads and clients our way. There’s a download of the same press release template my PR staff uses, which readers can get in exchange for signing up for our email list.

More and more of our clients, subscribers and followers are using SEO to raise their brand awareness — in my opinion, it’s a smart way to go about things (and again, very cost effective — SEO has huge ROI!).

PRontheGO: Public Relations experts on the biggest PR trends for 2019

As the self-publishing aspects of PR blossom, we’ve already moved beyond the traditional press releases and media events into blogs, podcasts and social channels with targeted narratives and case studies on real solution examples that give a “glimpse behind the curtain” of a corporation. I see the year ahead to be one in which we’ll continue on that path away from the highly-branded, meticulously reviewed and edited content to that which truly reflects the pain points of the customer base and is rooted in authenticity.

Companies are looking to bring PR in house and own the whole process, more and more. I have a training program called “PR Bootcamp” that teaches start-ups how to do this. Taking ownership of PR by bringing it in house not only saves a lot of money it can be way more effective towards driving results.

Podcasts will continue to be a growing trend in 2019 — both appearing on them to promote your business but also brands are launching their own podcasts as a way creating content that is both cost effective and a helps them connect with influencers (and their audiences) in an authentic and organic way.

The press release is dead, long live the press release: although dead as a tool for media outreach it’s one of the most valuable tools you can use to get your messaging and product fit right long before you begin reaching out the media. Read my article about what Jeff Bezos taught me about the power of the press release.

PRontheGO: Public Relations experts on the biggest PR trends for 2019

Fake news threats will only escalate — journalists are in a war to win back the trust of their audience, sadly what started as a punchline or tweet is now a serious threat to a free press, the bar for facts and figures is only getting higher&nb! sp;

Influencer marketing will be replaced with decentralized community-driven content — consumers are savvy and see influencer posts as a media buy and implicit endorsement and this gets back to the desire for authentic content not advertising by another name.

PRontheGO: Public Relations experts on the biggest PR trends for 2019

1. PR Tactics Will Be Splintered by Generational Media Consumption Differences in 2019: When it comes to news and information, no generation has consumed media socially like 18–29-year-olds do today. In fact, the differences between how generations are consuming media have never been greater — and that will continue to alter approaches to PR in 2019. According to PEW, young millennials and Generation Z aged 18–29 consume 36% of their news via social media. This came out well above other mediums for news consumption among this generation: News websites (27%), TV (16%), Radio (13%) and Print newspapers (2%). Compare this with the news consumption on social media of these demographics 30–49-year-olds (22%), 50–64-year-olds (14%) and 65+ (8%). For PR practitioners this is important to consider in 2019 as the media that matters to a brand and ultimately their target market is largely driven by the generation their prospects fall within

Therefore, a brand targeting costumers that are aged 50+ will still be able to rely on PR tactics in 2019 that have been successful with driving TV influence for decades — as over 65% of those aged 50+ still consume the majority of their news via the tube. However for brands targeting the highly coveted 18–29-year-old demographic, influencer marketing and media relations geared at publications that drive social sharing will become more vital in 2019. For the brands we work with that target this younger demographic, we regularly use tools like Muck Rack’s WhoShared to measure social share volume. This plays into us targeting outlets that millennials read (on mobile devices), and have the highest social shares of stories: Buzzfeed, Business Insider, Cheddar, etc.

2. Trump Makes PR Become Political: The news cycle surrounding the Trump admin is never-ending, and media, as well as customers alike, are increasingly looking for brands to give more than “no comment” around political stories. In fact, according to Edelman, those that buy from brands based on their publicly stated beliefs make up the majority of consumers in the U.S. (59%). Therefore brands like Patagonia and Nike that take a political and ethical stand will continue to drive media awareness and dollars to their bottom lines in 2019.

3. Media Relations & Paid Media Work Hand-in-hand in 2019: The digital transformation of news media has led it to a focus on national and global news. This change is best exemplified by the geographic consolidation of journalists. One in five reporters lives in NY, DC or LA. All of these signs point to a shifting, but perhaps enhanced, value for earned media across the marketing mix — especially at the media buying table. As earned results get tougher to obtain, finding new ways to get eyeballs on lower quantity but highly influential content is paramount. While measuring and analyzing the real-time value of earned media will remain a work in progress, there is no denying that it still has intrinsic value. Marketers and PR practitioners just need to expand their view on where it can be used and understand the new levers to pull with it to ensure successful outcomes.

Forward-thinking startups have started towards course-correcting this by making earned media the advertisement itself. In some ways, this isn’t all that different than using a native advertising service like Outbrain to ensure more people see your earned media article. However, you can also take this approach within the native walls of social networks like Facebook. For instance, Y-Combinator-backed Open Listings has found that their advertising CPAs on Facebook are $1.11 lower with the same target audience when promoting earned stories vs. typical call-to-action advertisements with no mention of a publisher. Open Listings will incorporate a compelling quote from an earned piece, while still keeping the intent of driving consumers to the company’s website. There may even be a link to the article in the advertisement, but the hero image click-through will go to the homepage. As Elijah Hurwitz, Director of Digital Marketing at Open Listings recently told me, “It’s a balancing act between ‘social proof’ and driving clicks to the most optimal part of the funnel and landing page to make sure paid social CPAs are efficient.”

4. (Social) Publicity Stunts Are Back: Remember publicity stunts? Over the last decade, they have become a smaller and smaller aspect of PR toolboxes as the industry moved to digital from analog. However, new socially-centered publicity stunts will continue to give the older practice a renaissance in 2019. As a Trump-dominated, 86,400-second news cycle makes it increasingly difficult for any brand to get their 15-seconds of fame, social stunts are becoming an attractive option for sticking out. What makes social stunts work? Making fun of the social status quo. Two examples in 2019 included the influencer-only go90 stunt and the recent Payless Shoes ‘Palessi’ stunt. Unlike stunts of the past that were often pulled off to garner media attention directly, these stunts are aimed at bubbling up on social media to create a groundswell of awareness that ultimately leads to media coverage. Very 2019.

Thank you!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store