Gini Dietrich

Eight PR Trends that Will Affect Your Jobs in 2017

By: Gini Dietrich | December 15, 2016 | 
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Eight PR TrendsOn the eighth day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you eight PR trends, seven professional development opps, six PR conferencesfive business books, four online courses, three productivity tools, two lies told about the PR industry, and a phrase to banish forever.

We are getting close! Only four more “gifts” after today.

Speaking of, can you believe there are only six business days left in the year (well, at the time I’m writing this, that’s the case)?

Things are getting real!

Let’s spend today talking about PR trends, shall we?

PR Trends

In 2007, it was fairly easy to sit back and look at what was coming and think, “This is how communications it going to be affected.”

And, nearly 10 years later, none of us can live without Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat.

Now it’s time to look at the PR trends that will affect the next 10 years.

I put these PR trends in alphabetical order, but I will tell you artificial intelligence is the one I’m most obsessed with—and you’ll hear a ton more about it on this very blog next year.

The difference between now and 10 years ago, is I can’t clearly see how communications will be affected.

I just know our jobs will not look at all the same five years from now and it will be due to robots.

Here are the other PR trends to be aware of in 2017.

Accountability Partners

Yesterday we introduced the 30-Day Spin Sucks Communications Challenge.

Once a day, in January (including weekends—eeek!), you will receive an email that provides you a task and/or a writing prompt.

By the end, you will have a full communications plan—centered around the PESO model—that you’ll have begun to execute.

The point is to get your plan finished and to begin executing, and to have someone or, in this case, a group of people hold you accountable to actually doing the work.

While this isn’t a new trend, business leaders tend to have accountability partners, we’ve seen a shift this year to all of us needing someone to say, “Hey, didn’t you say you were going to do X?”

Trust me, when someone does that, you get it done.

If you don’t join the 30-Day Communications Challenge (but we hope you do!), find yourself a mentor who is willing to hold you accountable to what you say you’re going to do.

If you do either—or both—of those things, you will have a very successful 2017.

Artificial Intelligence

A few years ago, I was introduced to Narrative Science, a company in my hometown of Chicago that ”writes” stories for publications using robots.

At the time, I was appalled.

After all, I’m a writer, author, blogger.

The idea that I could so very easily be replaced is scary.

Because it scared me so much, I wanted to dig in and better understand what they do.

It turns out, they can write stories for things such as earnings reports and Little League baseball games—stories where the stats are more important than storytelling.

That made me feel a bit better.

And now I’m obsessed with artificial intelligence and how it might affect the role of communicators in the next five to 10 years.

We already have marketing automation—that works when done well—and chatbots, but those are just the tip of the iceberg.

If Watson can diagnose a rare form of cancer and self-driving cars will change the way we get around, think about what AI will do to/for communications.

It’s scary, sure, but the possibilities are also endless.

Right now, think about how your content curation can change for the better.

Think about how much easier it will be to update your website to customize for the visitors on site at an exact moment.

Think about a more-evolved customer experience.

It’s exciting!

Curated and Private Spaces for Conversation

Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of Slack, which we’ve been using for nearly two years now.

Earlier this year, I began to see a trend toward people wanting to have safe places for conversation—to vent, to gossip, to brainstorm, and to get help.

They also wanted those safe places to have content that is carefully curated and serves up a personalized experience (see that trend below).

We’ve all seen blog comments all but disappear. And social media conversations wane.

But in places like a Slack community—where people can have private conversations that no one can see—comments are alive and well.

Fake News

While this isn’t a trend I want to see take hold, if the U.S. presidential election has taught us anything, it’s fake news sells.

And what does that mean to communicators?

Those executives and business owners who are willing to do what it takes, no matter if it’s ethical or not, will undoubtedly apply similar tactics to their communications plans.

The list of potential motives is endless: Anti-corporate activism, unsavory union tactics, competitive harassment, dissatisfied shareholders, unethical stock traders, even ethics-challenged, bottom-feeding PR practitioners.

It’s up to marketers to do three things—and be vigilant about them:

  1. Verify the validity of every piece of news before we share it anywhere;
  2. Build an internal discussion around what to do if a competitor spreads fake news about our organizations or executives; and
  3. Refuse to do work with anyone who wants us to do this.

This isn’t a trend just for the United States.

Every part of the world will see this affect their communications plans.

Be diligent in making sure, at this time next year, we have beaten this “trend.”

Personalized Experience

Next in PR trends in the personalized experience. This will become huge for all communicators, beyond the large consumer organizations.

To this point, consumers have been very leery about sharing any data with organizations, but that is changing.

Consumers are becoming more willing to hand over information about themselves in exchange for personalized content, offers, or discounts.

As well, consumers will share personalized data in exchange for content or product recommendations that meet their needs and personalized shopping experiences.

What goes with that, of course, is the expectation that companies will anticipate the content and products their consumers need next.

Still, collecting and leveraging consumer data to deliver a truly personalized experience poses a challenge for many marketers.

We are at the point where we need to figure out how to deliver content that will drive the personalized experience at all levels of the decision-making funnel.

PR Metrics

In today’s digital era, measurement is becoming increasingly important.

So much so, those who have figured out how and what to measure effectively outshine their competitors.

In 2017, communicators MUST move beyond vanity metrics and measure that which drives real business results.

The data is out there. You just have to find it and use it.

Professional Development

For several years now, digital marketing has been operating in the wild, wild west.

But it’s time to grow up and do things differently and with more sophistication.

To do that, we need to learn how to measure effectively, how to implement new trends, and how to figure out how AI and virtual reality and video all affect our roles.

The best way to do that is through our own professional development, which is plentiful on the web.

You can do everything from reading blogs and teaching yourself to taking online courses or buying and reading books.

Social Media Giants Become More Giant

It’s no secret the social media giants of social media world want us to spend more time on their networks.

The push toward Facebook and Google and Instagram and LinkedIn is not an accident.

Couple that with fake news and buckling down on that, Facebook will decide what you see.

Google will return content in its searches that follows the rules.

Email solutions are even getting smart about what is spam and what is not (SaneBox, FTW!), which puts inboxes at risk (though our own data shows email is still the most effective tool for communications).

I like how Michael Stelzner put it:

The information distribution highway will have toll stations that must be paid for by the those who create content. If you want your content seen, you’ll need to house it inside the companies that control the toll stations.

Gone are the days of free information flow.

We’re going to end up paying, in some form.

And there you have it.

Now it’s your turn. Which PR trends do you think we’ll face in 2017?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • I see they are in alphabetic order, but if ranked in order of importance, “PR Metrics” (measurement) should be at the top, right? 😉

    • I would probably put artificial intelligence first (just because it’s something that is going to change our jobs DRASTICALLY in the next five years) and then PR metrics.

      • I agree on the AI. I’m excited about a future where I can teach a system to do my boring repeatable tasks, organize and sort my data, and help me quickly make informed content decisions based on data. I suspect this is due to many years of reading SciFi novels and making a mental checklist of all the things I want an AI to do for me. Ha!

        • And it’s a goal for all of us in 2017! One video a week, FTW!

      • True. AI is exciting and definitely a game-chager. I guess I just see measurement as the “glue” that melds the comms functions together (to prove that PR is a necessary part of the equation) and ties efforts to actual results. It just amazes me that we (as an industry) have been talking about this for years, yet are SOOO slow to adopt. :-

        • I keep trying to figure out why and I think it’s a mix of things: Most executives think of PR just as media relations and they’re OK with “measuring” impressions because it’s a large number. It takes someone with a left brain to be able to change that perception…and most communicators are right brained.

  • Lou Draper

    AI is numero uno, here. It’ll devour us whole if as an industry we don’t figure out how to work with it to be better at our jobs, instead of our usual head in the sand approach!

  • AI is exciting and scary all at once. I think it will push us to be better, because either we cultivate and optimize the skills only humans can perform and be strategic and forward thinking, or we lose our jobs.

    It just looks like I’m going to have to have a kid now to be our John Connor.

    • Did you just say you’re going to have a kid?!?!?

  • I am so excited about AI. Imagine all the things we could do with its help.

  • My favorite “gift” so far 🙂 I love your 12 days of PR Christmas Gin. Have you thought about combining them all into a coffee table book for PR agencies?

    • Maybe you should just hold your horses!

      • You have unreasonable expectations of me.

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