Top public relations trends for 2014

January 2, 2014
crystal ball

It’s an annual thing over here at Gregory FCA to pull the combined wisdom of our 50 PR professionals to peer into the future and determine what factors will drive the industry in the New Year. And so, here, as we have done for the past five years, are our educated best guesses of what 2014 holds for us, our clients, and the PR industry:

  1. The end of the end of the world and the coming of the age of opportunity. A rapidly healing economy promises to fundamentally transform the public relations industry in 2014. After five years of recession, every indicator, including our own internal sales pipeline, shows unexpected demand, as companies budget and plan for 2014.Those PR firms that invested during the downturn, gaining talent and digital skillsets, can expect big rewards as clients put to work the billions of dollars in capital held in their treasuries and seek to partner with cutting-edge firms that can execute on integrated public relations and communications programs.
  2. International demand for U.S. PR services. As the U.S. economy leads the world rebound, overseas firms are turning to the U.S. to tap PR expertise unavailable elsewhere. Already, we have seen a record number of inquiries from Israeli, European, and Asian firms eager to penetrate an expanding U.S. market through PR. Expect more international firms to generate demand among U.S.-based PR firms, especially Chinese companies just now awakening to the power of PR products here in the U.S.
  3. Major PR moves among financial services players. Hindered by compliance issues and set back by the Great Recession, financial services companies are quickly catching up on delayed marketing initiatives, and chief among these is the image and reputation repair capabilities of PR. They are again open for business and seeking new partners to support their aspirations in social and digital media as well as media relations and image restoration.
  4. The rise of super credibles. As Eric Schmidt notes in his book, “The New Digital Age,” public relations in the future will be driven by trust. And trust in the future will be defined by a new generation of super credibles that will identify and surface the most credible and trustworthy ideas, products, and organizations before all others. Understanding and utilizing these new super credibles will be the primary responsibilities of future PR functions.
  5. The end of the need to justify digital and social media. It’s now assumptive. Every company, every enterprise in the New Year will need to be social — just as they need a website. The concept will no longer be met with skepticism, and rather welcomed as an additional weapon in the public relations arsenal.
  6. Increased linkage between results and effort. While the need to justify digital and social media will erode, the natural linkage between results and efforts will become increasingly important and take center stage as more PR practitioners see the value in quantifying their work. Dashboards will be the new currency of effectiveness as clients demand at a glance ways to demonstrate the success of their campaigns.
  7. The continued rise of alternative content. As more corporations struggle to write meaningful content, they will embrace a new wave of more informal, but effective content. The all-too-difficult to produce infographic (and the media’s growing suspicion of them) will make way for Skype-quality videos as corporations find new, easier ways for their subject matter experts to connect online.
  8. The newness of news. What’s old will become new again as companies recognize the value of rapid PR responses for gaining media exposure. 24/7 news. More reliance on short-termism, trending issues will open the door to companies and PR practitioners who can think like news organizations—constantly searching and injecting their clients’ opinions, ideas, and insights into the issues of the day, the next tweet or post.
  9. Empathy as the keystone of engagement. The world is no longer about channels as it moves to an age of empathy, as marketers, communicators, and publicists realize that noise alone is not enough. Rather, to move stories forward, the next task is empathizing with the needs of micro-audiences — distinct buyers, clients, and customers all with specialized information needs. The day of the overarching narrative is over, as audiences now ask before all else, “What’s in it for me?”
  10. Big data as the message for the media. Fact drives news, and data defines fact. Just as surveys and polls have for generations shaped news, big data and its ability to find non-obvious connections in the world all around us will become the best friend of smart storytellers. Those clients who can convert their data into meaningful content will drive entire conversations in the New Year.

So there you have it — our top 10 PR predictions for 2014. Seize them and you will advance your messaging, communications, and public relations in the New Year.

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