Machine learning, influencer marketing and a focus on Millennials are the top three trends that will drive public relations research this year, according to a new white paper from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications—its first annual report on public relations research trends.
“The annual research trends looks at how public relations and communication researchers should navigate our changing industry through timely, relevant and applied research on some areas that will challenge them in 2017,” said report author Sarab Kochhar, director of applied research at the college, in a news release. “These trends reflect a few ideas about what public relations and communication researchers can explore and study in 2017.”
Machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies will disrupt marketing and communications even more than social media has, according to a recent survey of CMOs. “Researchers and practitioners in the field of public relations should explore how AI and ML are helping organizations automate campaigns and creating new and stronger connections with customers leading to hyper-personalized experiences,” the report suggests.
In an environment of information overload, influencer marketing can help amplify messages. Research has shown how influencer marketing can boost brand performance. “Researchers can look at this trend, as well as how influencer marketing is creating a shift from social media to social marketplaces, to understand how organizations globally are using influencers as their brand advocates and storytellers,” says the report.
As Millennials increasingly take on managerial roles, companies are beginning to groom them for leadership positions. Understanding their behavior and perspectives will be critical for both organizational development and message effectiveness. “Researchers can further study the Millennial generation to comprehend how they interact with the brands, engage with the organizations and tell their story and voice their concerns and expectations,” the study purports. “Another area of research can explore how organizations can build lasting relationships with Millennials, also described as a constantly moving target.”