The public relations industry has seen its fair share of challenges over the last several years. From budget slashing and trouble understanding metrics to the dead sprint towards all things digital, PR professionals have become adept at facing issues head on, creating new strategies—and providing the best possible work for clients.

With the rise of influencer marketing and other paid programs, traditional public relations as we know it might be slipping away. Rather than looking at it as a forceful push-out, we should view these changes as new tactics to leverage. As long as we understand how to use these recent trends to our advantage, our campaigns can be stronger than ever.

So what comes next? As we look ahead to the New Year, three emerging trends have the full potential to take center stage:

Brandon Puttbrese

Brandon Puttbrese

Defining and communicating “social purpose”

Social responsibility/purpose carries a significant amount of weight with Millennial consumers and their growing purchasing power. Cause marketing and the publicity campaigns attached to them are nothing new, but my crystal ball tells me that companies who best define their social purpose and communicate those values to their current and potential customers will differentiate themselves from their competitors. Audiences are becoming more and more drawn to purpose, clear identity and “do good, feel good.” By having a defined and, more importantly, an understood social purpose, companies can nail those sweet spots and target consumers who put their money where their heart is.

Blending of paid and earned media

More and more reputable magazines, newspapers, television news and radio broadcasts are monetizing their editorial space (print, broadcast, digital and social) by creating sponsored, native content—stories and segments that are made to look and feel like authentic news articles, but are, in fact, paid placements, combining the two worlds as one. While it creates an opportunity for savvy marketers and media buyers, the proliferation of sponsored content creates a new conundrum for public relations pros who believe we show our value through earned news coverage.

Grace Stewart

Grace Stewart

Monitoring the value of all social communication

Value is always a hot topic for our world. By now, PR professionals are well adept at monitoring and measuring their social media influence, specifically on well-known platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But how do we derive value stemming from the other prominent forms of social communication? Correspondence via email, text messaging and other instant mediums like Slack and WeChat have become increasingly popular in the digital landscape, and the ability to obtain these metrics will prove to be more important in 2018 than ever before.

PR professionals must have the ability to adapt in order to thrive in such a fast-paced environment. Understanding the industry landscape and what trends are on the horizon are just some of the tactics we employ to stay one step ahead of the game and push our work towards greatness. 2018 is sure to be no exception to the trademark innovation that defines our space, and we are ready for it.

Brandon Puttbrese and Grace Stewart

Brandon Puttbrese and Grace Stewart

Brandon Puttbrese​ is an Account Supervisor ​and Grace Stewart is an Account Coordinator at Nashville marketing agency GS&F.

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