If the past year has proven anything, it’s the importance of positive messaging.
2020 shifted the public relations landscape in ways that were impossible to predict. In some ways, it’s getting harder than ever to say anything meaningful without someone, somewhere, rising up to call you out.
Pay attention to these five industry trends in the year ahead. Doing so will help you successfully avoid PR landmines that could potentially blow up your brand in 2021.
Content Relevance Will Prove Critical for Reaching the Right People
Ten years ago, you’d hear a lot of people tell you, “Content is king.” The idea was that all you had to do was create quality content, and the world would beat a path to your door. Well, the value of that advice plummeted once everyone began creating content.
Today, we have both a new king and queen calling the shots. I began advising Relevance because I believe it is that very thing—relevance—that is the next important consideration when developing content. Relevance should be your top priority when it comes to blending PR and SEO together to “own” specific topics, terms, and knowledge in your industry.
If relevance is king, then targeted distribution is queen. Previously, industry winners were those who built a large following and effectively distributed their content. It was only later that brands began to realize much of their following was not all that valuable. Having a raftload of followers wasn’t necessarily translating into conversions, let alone brand loyalty.
For the next two to three years, your ability to dominate any industry will be driven by getting your message across to a relevant audience. These are the people who care about—and are in a position to act on—what you have to say.
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Advanced PR Tools Will Move From “Nice to Have” to “Gotta Have”
In the recent past, PR professionals could get by using a spreadsheet that housed their list of media contacts. Those days are over.
Nowadays, there are just too many details, influencing factors, and dependencies that must be tracked as relationships develop. Newer tools such as Prowly and Muckrack combine database information with an interface that makes relationship management easier.
These systems cement new connections for you, enabling you to focus on your existing relationships. Industry leaders will be quick to see relationship management software not as an expense so much as a critical investment.
The Rise of Paywalls Will Fuel the Emergence of More Company Blogs
Established media companies have begun to overcome the hiccups that accompanied the introduction of paywalls. For them, paywalls make sense. They are generating valuable content and need to charge for their services.
The downside is obvious: visitors unwilling to pay for content are locked out. That frustration might manifest itself in a lasting negative impression.
Companies that are paid for their services (as opposed to their content) should consider maintaining an informative blog. A company blog should focus on trends in the industry you serve, not necessarily just your services.
If you believe in what your company has to offer, fostering a well-informed customer is to your advantage. Forming relationships with other companies that complement your mission and getting placements with them will be vital.
New Platforms Will Be Cool But Might Prove a Distraction
Something new is not necessarily something better, though it might be. You’ll need to do your homework before jumping onto any new platform.
Take Clubhouse, for example. This drop-in audio-based community is a great place for experts to share content. People come to Clubhouse primarily to learn something by eavesdropping. It’s both fun and educational.
For some brands, though, Clubhouse won’t make sense. Your existing go-to channels are apt to yield better results. On leading social media platforms, you’re far more likely to find someone already looking to buy or doing legwork in advance of a near-future purchase.
Proactive Reputation Management Will Become Increasingly Important
Americans have just come through a highly controversial election piled on top of a worldwide pandemic. Rhetoric has been sharp and divisive. Brands are at increased risk of unintentionally upsetting wide swaths of the populace and suffering all of the bad press that comes with that.
It’s always easier to clean up a mess if you’ve made a point of preparing ahead of time. Proactively surround your brand with positive messaging. A committed, consistent reputation management approach will be critical when—not if—the time comes to handle a PR crisis.
Get it right, and people will be disinclined to believe bad news about you, even if it’s true. With any luck, any future PR gaffe will be considered a blip on the radar, not a defining characteristic.
In the past year, we’ve experienced more social turmoil than most of us have ever seen. Brands that can adapt to these PR trends will be able to create their own oases of calm.