Between the recently dodged ‘Fiscal Cliff’ and the newly resolved NHL hockey strike, there is no doubt the role of public relations continues to grow and there is no shortage of opportunity to build communities around your fans.
What does 2013 hold for public relations and its practitioners? How can businesses better leverage public relations to achieve corporate goals? Let’s examine three trends we see as being key this year and beyond.
1. Being Social is the New Norm
As Yellow Pages revenue continues to decline, it’s time for businesses to realize digital and social are the new norm for search. Gone are the days when customers used to look up a business in the Yellow Pages first. Today, if your business doesn’t rank well on Google, or your customers can’t initiate a customer complaint via social media, then your customer will not try harder to find you. Instead they will connect digitally and socially to the brand most visible in their digital field of vision. As smartphone penetration continues to rise, Millennials and even parents are becoming more and more accustomed to searching their mobile device for contact information. For many, that Yellow Book of yore never enters the equation. Get used to it. Maximize your social presence and start talking with your audiences. Your future business depends on it.
2. Press Release Success Linked to Visuals
According to research from PR Newswire, press releases with multimedia assets –such as photos, videos, and downloadable files – can help garner up to 9.7 times more views than traditional text-only releases. It’s important to note this is the INFOGRAPHIC age. We are visual creatures and the more (and better) we can help our audience understand our message with eye-catching graphics the more uptake we will realize in that call to action. These visuals need to support your news release though. Eye catching graphics won’t make up for a poorly written press release because these stunning graphics may never be seen if the accompanying press release is not compelling enough for the editor/writer. Great writing is always in style.
3. Reputation and Crisis Management Take Centre Stage
As social becomes more high profile, crisis management and online reputation management are key areas of focus for business. The past year was riddled with examples of organizations/businesses with no clue how to conduct themselves during a crisis situation. This in and of itself is not new, but with the ‘now factor’ of social media corporate missteps that could once be hidden or buried on the back pages of newspapers now generate trending hashtags on Twitter and promises from prospects and customers to “never shop/support *business name here* ever again!!” In other words, a lack of preparedness and a propensity to outsource scheduled, canned social media posts can land a business/organization in some very hot water. Handle your brand with care. People expect businesses/brands to have a handle on the temperature of topics affecting popular culture. If high profile events have caused distress or irreparable harm, people do not want to see brands ignorant or unaware of current affairs. Nor do people want to see brands trying to capitalize on vulnerable parties. Empathy and sensitivity are proving essential for smart brands going the distance these days.
As you approach your planning for 2013, consider how well covered your business is in these areas. If this year is anything like 2012, there will be numerous social media platform shifts, new tools and paradigm shifts that will challenge our norms, and PR practitioners are expected to roll with the punches.
What public relations trends do you envision for 2013 and how is your business prepared for them? Please leave your comments below!