Key PR & Communication trends to watch out for: Samir Kapur, Adfactors

Guest Column: Kapur, Senior VP, Adfactors explains how the digital era will bring about a change in the role of next generation PR professionals

by Samir Kapur
Published - Jul 9, 2018 8:56 AM Updated: Jul 9, 2018 8:56 AM

An incredibly diverse number of reports and talks corroborate that futuristic technologies such as digital storytelling, social listening, social and other digital-media platforms, AI, AR, ephemeral blink-and-you-miss content and blogs are going to disrupt the public relations (PR) and communications industry. While it is true, it is also imperative to note that digital and social media cannot completely off-root PR.

It is unjust to discount the fact that third-party validation and strong press are potent ways to get your company’s story told to your stakeholders. And so, to keep pace with the evolving scope and reach of PR, the next-generation professionals should be adept at both.

Much of this change has been triggered by the changing media landscape with the convergence of paid, earned, shared and owned media and new technology, followed by access to data, disruption of business models and competition from other disciplines.

It is pertinent to note that the knowledge, skill and abilities of the brightest of PR professionals of tomorrow will continue to evolve as the world around us changes, riding on technological advancements and dynamic shifts in the business landscapes. While content and presentation skills will continue to reign supreme, PR practitioners of the future must be hands-on in business, environment mapping, managing people, ethics, devising integrated high resonating campaigns, corporate social responsibility, influencer engagement and intelligent decision engineering based on data analytics.

Let us look at some of the dominant trends that will define the future of PR:

Social media will continue to engage brands and consumers in an immersive & interactive communication experience, a move away from the single-channel communication of yesteryears dominated by press and publicists. Moreover, tools to measure the impact of PR have been a topic of debate across boardrooms for long. This is bound to change, as simplistic output based methods such as calculating a value equivalents will be replaced by more value bearing outcome-based measurements. PR pros will be able to monitor and manoeuvre communication results in real time and craft messages whenever the situation at hand calls for. 'Data-driven PR' will be the new catchphrase as working with big data and analytics will become more commonplace.

Furthermore, video content will witness dramatic proliferation with greater use of Snapchat and Instagram, complementing Facebook and Twitter. In a bid to add authenticity and credibility to key messages, influencer and micro-influencer engagement will gain much momentum. PR firms worldover are realising how important it is to collaborate with relevant influencers, purely by the sheer number of followers they have on social media platforms of repute. Teaming up with such influencers will help brands reach out to the niche audience.

Hygiene PR tools such as press releases are going to witness major changes in the coming times. The one-size-fits-all model will die a slow death and the digital netizens of today will experiment with newer formats such as rich media, visuals, videos, animation and graphics. Today’s consumers consume content as per their time, convenience and preferred method. Therefore, the challenge will be to reach out to them wherever they are.

In the era of multi-device engagement, the trick to stay ahead of the curve is to create device-agnostic content and platform-agnostic models to distribute that content. Social media news releases is set to complement traditional news media outlets and will largely target opinion leaders. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to emphasise that PR and communications function will become more in sync with functions, hitherto considered to be strictly marketing.

Trust and ethics rule the roost as people today scrutinise everything, be it individuals or businesses, and deliver real-time feedback through social media. Thus, everything that is a boon has its share of banes. While digital and social will redefine the world of PR and communications in many ways, it will also be imperative to stay on top of the conversations that are happening and steer them to reach the desired outcomes.

We are now quite familiar with AI-based voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Bixby and S Voice. As AI permeates further, it is bound to foray into and revolutionise the world of communications. Apart from the basics such as media monitoring and research, AI will automate some of the most important PR functions.

Data scientists and analytics experts will not exist in silos anymore, given that predictive analytics can tell businesses what they need, when and where they need it. A brand can leverage it to their advantage to reduce cost and gauge when the demand will be the highest. AI and machine learning should make PR easier, helping them to accurately predict when the customer interest is the highest, identify potential crisis and mitigate them in time. The PR professionals would be doing what machines can’t – such as developing and implementing multi-dimensional creative strategies to create awareness and elevate reputation.

The hyper-competitive marketplace will drive the evolution of the industry,which is slated to reach the figure of Rs 2,100 crore by 2020 (as per Public Relations Consultants Associations of India).

The author is the Senior VP at Adfactors

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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