What does 2018 hold for public relations?

Without a crystal ball, we asked some PR influencers for their take on what will be trending in the industry in 2018. Here are their PR predictions:

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Ann Handley, best-selling author of Everybody Writes and head of content at MarketingProfs:

“AI puts the R back in PR. The rise of AI also raises the profile of PR. The machines take over the boring, rote stuff (the media monitoring, the reporting, the research) so that the professionals have more time to dig into the more creative and relationship-building aspects of PR. AI puts the R back in PR!”

Christopher Penn, author, speaker and vice president of marketing technology, SHIFT Communications:

“No surprise here, my top 2018 prediction is that marketers and communicators must become comfortable with machine learning and artificial intelligence – and must strive to truly understand these technologies. While they may be buzzwords now, leading companies are implementing them in day-to-day work, from analysis of content to identifying influencers to determining PR impact with new ways to measure. PR professionals who don’t understand how to use AI (either custom-built in-house or through vendors) will be left behind by those who can leverage its capabilities for next-level communications impact.”

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Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder, and CMO, Orbit Media:

“Get ready for a convergence of PR and influencer marketing. The skills required are similar (networking, outreach, content creation) so there is already a strong overlap. And as influencer marketing becomes a more popular and common approach, PR pros will begin to talk more about it, offer it and gradually position themselves as experts at this tactic.

Just look at the rise of influencer marketing over the last three years. Only paid promotion is rising faster. PR experts are perfectly positioned to capture this demand and drive results for clients using these strategies.”

Martin Waxman, President, Martin Waxman Communications and LinkedIn Learning, and Lynda.com author:

“In 2018, PR and communications professionals will need to abandon their fear of numbers, and learn how to interpret data – both big and small – to discover insights that help shape their organization’s stories. And while staring at tables of numbers or unstructured data may sound dull, discovering the kernel of an idea is a creative endeavor. To accomplish that, we have to learn the basics of data science. This starts by learning what data scientists can and cannot do, how to speak their language, and how to use a database like Excel for more than just a critical path. It’s an exciting opportunity and demands a shift in the way we think.”

Stephen Waddington, Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum, and Visiting Professor, Newcastle University:

“My prediction for 2018 is that public relations will become recognized as a management discipline. The drumbeat of professionalism in public relations has been getting louder over the past decade. My view is that 2018 will prove to be a breakthrough year as a result of a concerted effort on a number of fronts. There’s a growing community of practice between academics, teachers and practitioners, around critical issues such as diversity, gender and fake news. A strong interchange between theory and practice is critical to the development of our profession.”

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Nicole Rodrigues, CEO and Founder, NRPR Group:

“More brands will realize they need a mix of social media and traditional PR in order to truly build a presence. Companies who’ve only created budget for one or the other are starting to wake up to the fact that both really need each other in order to move a brand’s presence.”

Robert Wynne, Author, “Straight Talk About Public Relations,” (Maven House Press):

“While the trend of alternative facts, fake news and plain old lying is troublesome, it means that PR pros need to work harder to maintain their ethics—and to help their clients do the same. There have always been a few PR professionals who have lied on behalf of their bosses. In the old days, when someone was caught being dishonest, they would apologize. No more. Today, even after lies are exposed, some spokesmen won’t express regret or even change their stories.”

Christoph Trappe, Content Marketing Trainer and Coach ChristophTrappe.com:

“In 2018, public relations people will use the tools to predict what topics are about to take off even more. Today, many still respond after something took off, but in 2018 sophisticated listening, anticipation and then execution will mature.”

Wendy Marx, President, Marx Communications:

“With some 5 PR people for every reporter, PR professionals can’t expect to stay in business by simply being media coverage pushers. That’s akin to trying to hawk typewriters to high school students. Instead, strategies like content marketing, owned content, influencer marketing and thought leadership need to come to the fore.”

Kellye Crane, Principal, Crane Communications, LLC:

“With organizations increasingly adopting an omnichannel approach to marketing in 2018, savvy PR professionals can maneuver to play a central role. Skilled in long-term communications strategies (as opposed to the campaign-driven mentality often found in other marketing disciplines), PR pros are experts in engaging an organization’s publics. This expertise is critical as personalization and a focus on relationships become central goals for most businesses.

To get a seat at the table for 2018 and beyond, strategic PR pros will find ways to lead, integrate and report real metrics based on measurable objectives that are tied to business goals.”

There you have it, the influencers with their pulse on the industry share their PR predictions for 2018. If you’re not quite ready for the new year, make sure you download our Digital PR ebook to help you prep for all of next year’s campaigns.

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