What the PR Industry Can Expect in the Next 10 Years

By Martin Waxman

I recently read a Forbes post by Greg Satell where he presents several trends he believes we’ll see in the next decade in marketing.

He made some great points about where we’re heading and I thought I’d add what the PR industry can expect to his insights.

‘From Messages to Experiences’

It wasn’t long ago when we were all about the key message – literally.  And while that’s an important fundamental of communications, it’s not the end-all, be-all and we used to make of it in media training.

These days, it’s more important for us to learn how to tell stories, visually, creatively, honestly, and effectively to give something of value to the communities we’re trying to reach. It’s about getting to the heart of the matter, not massaging messages via sleight of hand.

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‘From Rational Benefits to the Passionate Economy’

The PR industry has a tradition of billing by the hour for the services we provide. That’s good, but it doesn’t take into account the big ideas we create in a few minutes or the passion required to deliver out of the ballpark results.

It’s ‘time’ to move beyond tracking increments of quarter hours and start showing clients we don’t view them as numbers on a ticking meter. This means a shift in our pricing model that demonstrates we’re committed to giving clients our all and producing the breakthrough work I mentioned in point one.

‘From Strategic Planning to Adaptive Strategy’

I remember a time not too long ago when we’d get a client briefing and then prepare a full-year plan. That brief was like the bible and we wouldn’t waver from it because it was – well, the Big Plan.

Now we should take a 50,000 foot strategic look at the year ahead, but do the detailed planning every quarter and fine-tune it each month. And we should constantly listen – to our community and the world around us – and be prepared, happy, and open to shifting to a new opportunity we discover on the immediate horizon.

‘From Hunches to Simulations’

I’m still a big believer in gut reactions and left-field concepts that you just know will help achieve your goals. And I’m a big non-believer in focus groups, those artificial gatherings responsible for the maintenance of the status quo because the wrong mix of five or six people in a room focuses too closely on whether a picture should have a thumbs up or thumbs down – true story!

It’s important to test our ideas and what better way than in a real-life, real-time and just plain real simulations, actual experiments. And then when the results merit it, we should follow on point four and quickly adapt.

‘From Brands to Platforms’

I’m going to interpret this as a shift from brand-centric push communications to the helping model Jay Baer articulates in Youtility. PR can often be agoraphobic and unwilling to veer from the tried and true (as in simply posting a news release and expecting people to be excited). We need to journey outside our comfort zone and figure out a more meaningful way to connect.

How about actually starting with a conversation and abandoning the canned pitch?

The PR Industry 10 Years from Now

Do you think the next 10 years are going to bring about as much change as the past 10 did? What will the industry look like in the not too distant future? Where do you think PR is heading? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman, MCM, APR, is a senior advisor to Spin Sucks and runs a consultancy, Martin Waxman Communications. He leads digital and social media training workshops, conducts AI research, and is a LinkedIn Learning author and one of the hosts of the Inside PR podcast. Martin teaches social media at McMaster University, the Schulich School of Business, Seneca College, and the UToronto SCS and regularly speaks at conferences and events across North America.

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