Gini Dietrich

12 Days of Christmas: Two PR Trends for a New Decade

By: Gini Dietrich | December 3, 2019 | 
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PR TrendsOn the second day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you two PR trends and one mindset shift (in a pear tree).

Yesterday, Laura Petrolino started you out with the one mindset shift you need to make as you go into next year.

On this second day of Christmas, I have two PR trends for you to accept, envelop, and work to death.

No matter where your communications role lies, you can go into the new decade strong if you embrace these two PR trends:

  1. Creative storytelling; and
  2. The PESO model.

PR Trends: Creative Storytelling

Let’s start with creative storytelling.

It’s not a new trend—we’ve been talking about storytelling for a few years now—and it’s not like sitting around a campfire trying to terrify the children in your life.

No, this is about storytelling that allows your customers to imagine how miserable life would be without your product or service. 

I’ve mentioned here before that I love to watch the internet marketers—mostly so I know what NOT to do, but also to see if I can figure out what actually works without being slimy.

(I also find it fascinating that the men to women ratio in this space is alarmingly male. But that’s another story for a different day.)

As I peruse, participate in, and watch others, I pay particularly close attention to how they make me feel as a prospect.

Some of the best of them are great at educating their audiences and telling a story that makes you feel like you’re massively missing out if you don’t work with them. 

Some of the worst of them try to shove their products or services down your throat without understanding you or providing a solution to your unique challenges.

Which camp would you rather be in?

I know which one I’d rather be in and I can tell you the former takes a lot more time, resources, patience, frustration, and energy.

Sometimes the best short-term solution is to shove something down a prospect’s throat so they’ll buy, which is why so many organizations do it, but they won’t be customers for long. 

Storytelling, though, creates the ability to build trust, generate engagement, and form relationships with your prospects who will then become lifelong customers and your biggest brand ambassadors.

Storytelling In Marketing

Human beings have been telling stories since evolution.

It’s one of the most, if not the most, important traditions we possess.

Not only does every story contain a lesson to instruct the audience, they teach us to love, to forgive others, and to strive for better than we have.

They allow us to digest information more easily because they tap into our emotions—good and bad.

In a world where things are so, um, crazy at best, we turn to stories to help us cope.

The stories might be the ones I tell with my mini me as she’s falling asleep (we take turns picking up where the other left off), they might be escape into fiction, and they might very well be an organization’s attempt to make you feel something.

You want to use the last one in your marketing efforts—you want people to feel something when they engage with your organization.

This could be good.

It might be bad. (I have a hard time with that one because I have an innate need to be liked so it’s hard for me when someone reacts differently than we anticipated for whatever reason.)

If it’s good, you can win a customer for life.

If it’s bad, you have saved yourself a lot of time and angst when they move on from you. (Which is great, but again…innate need to be liked.)

The point is, storytelling should be on your radar for both internal and external communications in 2020 and beyond. 

Dig Deep Into the Bad…Or Not!

I think most of us have a hard time when we’re told to tell stories when we market and communicate at work.

It takes us back to high school English class where we had to diagram sentences and develop characters.

I have an English degree with an emphasis in creative writing (and a minor in math, but who’s counting?).

I had a professor—a best-selling fiction professor—who used to tell me I had to dig deeper into the bad things in my life that made me me if I wanted to be a good storyteller. 

Now apply that advice to storytelling for your organization.

It doesn’t really work.

So we go back to what we know—pushing out content that’s about us and not about the prospective customer. 

What if, instead, you thought about storytelling from the perspective of how something came to be.

For instance, I have a great story of how Spin Sucks evolved into the professional development source for communicators that it is today.

Stories Just Have to Be Relatable

Nine years ago, almost to the day, I drafted what I thought professional development of the future looked like.

To say I was ahead of the trend is putting it mildly.

I took five years—FIVE YEARS—to lick my wounds after my vision failed miserably.

And, truth be told, even after five years, I wasn’t ready to try again.

Until I sat in a conference room at the Marriott on Michigan Avenue in Chicago with a bunch of bloggers who had made a gazillion dollars from their expertise.

It was March of 2015 and I’ll never forget the audible gasp heard around the room when I was asked what we sell to our blog subscribers and I said, “Nothing.”

It was that meeting that everything changed.

It was a moment in time when I had a baby at home, a new book out, and lots of speaking travel that was taking me away from said small child.

I just knew if all those bloggers could do it, I could too.

And it would allow me to be home, where I was most needed (and where I desperately wanted to be). 

The point is, it doesn’t have to be a story that digs deep into your pain.

It doesn’t have to have fully formed characters.

It doesn’t even have to have evil and good.

It just has to be relatable.

And, for anyone who is living a life they hadn’t anticipated nor wanted, the story of how we evolved is a completely relatable story.

Storytelling in Internal Communications

Storytelling isn’t just for external communications—it works internally, too.

You already know that sales, HR, marketing, and finance don’t always see eye-to-eye on priorities.

Storytelling in your internal communications can help bridge those gaps, and break down the organizational silos. 

The more we understand how people think, process information, and share information, the more successful we’ll be. 

Especially in large or distributed workforce organizations, it’s impossible to know everyone you technically work with.

Sure, you may see them in the hallways or on video chat, but you may not know where their strengths lie or what their passions are.

Videos and podcasts make it a lot easier for everyone to get to know one another.

IBM does a fascinating job with this.

They encourage employees to share things about the cities in which they live and what they love to do outside of work.

They’ve won lots of awards for the type of engagement it’s built internally.

PR Trends: The PESO Model

And now the second trend for 2020: implementing the PESO model.

If you’re been around these parts for a bit, you know what the PESO model is and hopefully have started to experiment using it in your communications efforts.

And here’s the thing for next year—and the next decade: traditional communications are no longer going to be enough.

AdAge recently published an article on this very topic and I couldn’t agree more. 

The PESO model, for those of you who are not familiar is the integration of paid, earned, shared, and owned media.

Traditionally, PR falls under earned media—media relations, publicity, whatever you want to call it.

Today, even if we’re not asked to do more, it’s our responsibility to start to add in the other media types.

Not only has media changed enough that it affects the E in the PESO model, but it’s hard to measure it beyond brand awareness and reputation.

Not that those aren’t important—they are.

But a recent survey by the Annenberg Center for Public Relations at USC shows the majority of CEOs want PR to result in measurable outcomes.

This is also known as, driving revenue or cold, hard cash.

You cannot do that without an integrated PESO model.

Earned Media Can—and Should—Ultimately Drive Sales

I’m going to ask a rhetorical question, simply because I cannot see you to know if you’ve raised your hand…but how many of you have pitched a story in recent months only to have the journalist come back to you with an introduction to the publisher or providing the ad sheet so you can buy space? 

It’s happening more and more often and, while I do think advertising and earned media are two entirely different things (church and state, if you will), it’s getting more challenging to get earned media without some sort of media buy. 

Consider things such as native advertising, sponsored content, and certainly paid social.

These are all things that can—and should—fall within your bailiwick.

When your executives or clients want you to focus on earned media, start to request budget for some paid media, too.

We’re not far from not being able to get any earned media without paid. Start greasing those wheels now.

In the aforementioned study out of Annenberg, they asked thousands of marketers which media type they thought was most credible—and earned media still came out on top.

Which makes sense.

It’s third-party validation, after all.

But it also has to be measured to real outcomes—and not just impressions or media value or website traffic.

To do that, it must be integrated with the other media types. 

Shared Media Continues to Evolve 

Shared media is going to continue to change.

I was recently asked during a podcast interview what I think is going to happen to Facebook.

As much as I hate to admit it (because I really love Facebook), it’s starting to implode with a speed that we all marvel at.

Couple that with the fact that some of the Democratic candidates for president in the U.S. want to break it apart so it’s not so large, and we have some massive changes on the horizon.

While shared media is still one of the very best ways to engage with your audiences, if your communications plan depends on it, you have to start to plan for eventual changes.

Do it now.

Integrate the other media types so you’re not reliant on one thing and can be fluid as changes happen.

Be the Teller of Your Own Story

And last, but definitely not least, is owned media.

This is where every communications plan should begin.

This comes back to the storytelling we talked about earlier.

Without owned media, someone else is telling your story for you.

Don’t let that happen!

Tell your story.

Tell it well.

Tell it often.

And then let the other media types help you disseminate it. 

The PR Trends for 2020

So there we have it on the second day of Christmas at Spin Sucks: two PR trends with storytelling and working the PESO model in your communications plans. 

Of course, it’s challenging to limit to only two trends.

There are lots of other things on the forefront, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, and virtual events made to look like real-life.

With that, I’d love to know what you think are the trends for 2020—and an entirely new decade.

The comments are yours.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She also has run, built, and grown an agency for the past 14 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.