What will PR and corporate communications look like over the next 12 months and beyond? New research from PR, marketing and social agency Sword and the Script and IABC Fellow Ned Lundquist’s “Job of the Week” (JOTW) email newsletter reveals the hottest trends on the horizon (along with some of the not-so-hot ones), according to a survey of industry professionals, many of whom are in senior roles.

Respondents said storytelling, content marketing and thought leadership will have more important roles, among a list of more than 20 tactics or trends related to PR. Other important trends—those for which 50 percent or more of respondents said would be “more important” or “much more important”—include alignment with marketing, influencer relations, organic social media, infographics, and executive speaking.

Trends or tactics that will be no more or less important in the next year than they are currently, according to 50 percent or more of respondents, include native ads, PPC, analyst relations and both first and third-party events. And those trends that received the most responses for “less important” or “much less important” include press releases, white papers and award programs.

Which of the following do you believe are the top challenges currently facing communications:

New survey reveals 2018’s hottest PR trends, challenges and tools

The survey also asked questions about the top challenges in PR, why they hire or fire agencies, measurement, tech tools, and communications budgets among many other aspects. Here are some of the research’s key takeaways, according to a blog post from Sword and the Script founder and president Frank Strong:

PR budgets and expanding responsibilities are top industry challenges

The biggest obstacle in PR is financial—63 percent cited budget as their top challenge, even as 57 percent point to an ever-expanding list of duties. At the same time, more than half (54 percent) cites proving value or ROI of communications to the business as a major challenge.

Top reasons to hire and fire a PR agency

When corporate communications hires an outside agency, most (54 percent) said they do it because they need an extra pair of hands. When communications agencies are fired, the top reasons can be traced to cost (79 percent).

What are the top three reasons a communications department will engage an outside firm:

New survey reveals 2018’s hottest PR trends, challenges and tools

Media relations is getting harder

A majority (51 percent) of respondents believe media relations is getting harder, about one-third (32 percent) say it’s about the same and just 3 percent think it’s easier. The rest are unsure.

Organic social media is getting harder too

Half (50 percent) of respondents say organic social media is getting harder; 19 percent say it’s about the same; 5 percent say it’s easier; and 26 percent are unsure.

Top tech tools used by PR pros

The five tools communications professions say they use the most are: web analytics (78 percent); social media management (75 percent); press release distribution (66 percent); media monitoring (66 percent); and content management systems (50 percent). Media databases somewhat surprisingly ranked at only 38 percent.

Which of the following tools does your company use to facilitate communications (select all that apply):

New survey reveals 2018’s hottest PR trends, challenges and tools

PR pros fully employed but open to moving

While a recent PR Week salary survey reported just 15 percent of PR pros say they changed jobs in the last 12 months that might change substantially in 2018, more than half of respondents (55 percent) to the new survey reported being fully employed but open to new opportunities.

See the full survey results here.

The survey was conducted in February 2018 and 155 respondents completed the questionnaire.

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Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.


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