With the prolonged recession and the continued rise of social media in 2011, a seismic shift in the PR industry towards new media, social media and online marketing that started a couple of years ago was magnified. With the financial pressures on traditional media to stay in business and the general public’s increased reliance on social media to get their news, PR pros will be playing with a much larger box of tools and skillsets than they ever had.
Here are our predictions for what to expect in 2012:
- Brands as Publishers/Journalists – Just as the definition of “media” has changed from old-school print publications and TV news to include blogs and webcasts, we’re going to see more companies skip “traditional media” and talk directly to their audiences in an editorial voice. While the ultimate expectation will be to increase sales, this new form of “owned media” won’t be salesy in nature. To be effective, the tone will be informal with the “voice” of an everyday person and stripped of industry jargon. (If you’re used to saying “solutions provider” or “game-changer,” make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to remove those phrases from your vocabulary.)
Here’s how we think they’ll look:
- Blogs – This will be the central hub of “owned media” efforts, with images, information, videos, links to industry news articles, etc. Companies should be using this to share their updates, news and thoughts on other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others.
- Microsites, microsites, microsites – Similar to blogs, this will be a central hub about specific projects or company initiatives. For architecture firms, for example, each project should have a microsite that highlights the goals of the project, sustainable attributes, photos (posted to Flickr), videos (embedded from YouTube), links to coverage, etc. This will be the single location that a reporter or prospective client can visit to learn everything about the project at their own pace.
- Video will be huge – Video is more powerful — and accessible — than it’s ever been. Nearly every computer has a built-in camera, and the camera on the new iPhone is better than those over-the-shoulder monsters of the past. No one expects it to be a Speilberg production. Just start talking (or walking and talking if it’s a tour of something). YouTube has lowered viewers expectations for production value. Actually, the more “real” it seems, the more authentic you’ll seem.
- The media will continue to do more with less – With the drastic cuts in editorial budgets and mass layoffs at most media outlets, PR folks are more necessary than ever to the business of publishing the news. However, we will be expected to act like embedded journalists, not brand representatives. That means no jargon, no marketing-speak and no half-truths. Transparency and trust are vital.
- Social media is here to stay and will be bigger than ever – Integration of social media in every thing you do is necessary. Recently, we organized a media tour in NYC for one of our clients. Many of the appointments were secured via “Twit Pitch” – we literally pitched the reporters and bloggers via Twitter in 140 characters or less. This is the new normal.
- SEO will grow as a PR function – PR firms will be helping their clients optimize their websites to rank higher on search engines. This isn’t about manipulation of meta tags or anything technical like that. It’s through the integration of relevant and abundant content on their sites, identifying the actual phrases that potential clients/customers likely use to find them, and then using those “real” phrases, instead of marketing jargon, in all press materials, press releases, “about us” descriptions and the like.
- Flash is a dead technology – Unable to make Flash work on iPhones and iPads, Adobe recently threw in the towel for Flash on the web. If your site relies on Flash, you’ll need to overhaul it in 2012.