Mike Connell

The Spin Sucks Question: Communication Trends in 2019

By: Mike Connell | December 14, 2018 | 
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communication trendsAt the outset of our annual “12 Days of Christmas” series, Gini Dietrich wrote about the top two trends to watch for in 2019.

And yet, while those two trends contained therein are pretty compelling, there are likely many more innovations on the horizon.

Maybe there’s something that’s been gaining ground over the past year that will really make an impact in 2019.

Or perhaps there’s something new and unexpected we can look forward to.

This week’s Spin Sucks Question looks to the future:

What are you most excited about for 2019?

What are the top trends, innovations, technologies, or opportunities that you’re looking forward to in the new year?

Communication Trends: Less Traditional Media?

Mary Jo Fasan starts us out by heralding a (continued?) decline in traditional media usage:

In 2019, we will continue to see the shrinkage of traditional media. And, consequently, the diminishing use of long-established, go-to tools of the PR profession—the press release and press pitching.

While earned media remains highly sought-after, more room will be made for multi-channel outreach opportunities through video, voice, and visual content.

This will give PR pros more ways to reach audiences via third-party outlets as well as owned or shared media.

Also, partnership marketing will be taking greater hold. This will allow for a broader share of voice among like-minded and/or trusted individuals or brands to stretch communications reach and extend brand stories.

Additionally, with budgets tightening for the coming year, clients will be relying on more cost-effective ways to reach their audiences. All the while getting the most out of their PR investment.

The bottom line will become more important than ever.

Metrics, measurement tools, and ROI will become more sophisticated as a result.

Communication Trends: More Traditional Tactics?

Where Mary Jo Fasan feels tools and tactics like the seemingly staid news release, Jazmyn Reed begs to differ (at least in part):

As a young PR professional who recently made the transition from social media marketing to more traditional PR, I believe 2019’s PR trends will continue to see these two communications channels overlap in the following ways:

The bounceback of the press release. According to Cision’s 2018 Global State of the Media Report, media across the world are more concerned with reporting accurate news than they are with being the first to report.

With fake news being shared in mass, primarily due to social media, it should come as a relief to PR pros that the same Cision report found 63 percent of US journalists say the press release is the most valuable content they received from PR contacts.

That means PR pros sticking to sharing the facts is one of the best things we can do in 2019.

And, digital/online activations. Activations have been a buzzword thrown around the marketing world for years and in the past, they have also contained huge price tags (see: Amazon’s biggest delivery ever).

But brands like Burger King have seen massive success with online activations, their recent Whopper Detour activation, which allowed customers to get a whopper for a penny via their app if they ordered near a McDonalds, launched the app to number one in the Apple store within a few days.

Finding a creative way to grab your audience’s attention online, minus the costliness of a large-scale event, and keep them (and the media talking about) will be a crucial trend for PR pros in 2019.

Communication Trends: Personalization

From Kathleen Booth:

More marketers will move away from overly designed marketing email blasts in favor of plain text emails and undesigned email newsletters.

Stripping away unnecessary design elements such as banner images and decorative stock photos will help improve deliverability and put the focus on the sender’s message.

Most importantly, it offers a great platform for crafting emails in a more authentic and personal way that will resonate with recipients.

In 2018, there was a major focus on video. Next year, I see a major opportunity to leverage technology to deliver personalized videos at scale.

I’m particularly excited about Vidyard’s support for personalized audio tracks as well as real-time personalization of video content at scale.

We’re already using this to send videos to thousands of recipients featuring their first names on a whiteboard, all with the click of one button. There are so many ways marketers can apply this—it makes my head spin! (in a good way)

Communication Trends: Content Innovations

With the rise of voice search and the idea of zero interface increasingly becoming more commonplace, Sarah Evans is excited about the content opportunities:

I’m most excited to see the evolution of people writing for voice search and creating new content, in new ways. I mean, fully immersive mobile experiences, social sound bites, innovative new ways to share content on multiple platforms.

I’m also looking forward to all of the “makers” who will push industries forward with groundbreaking tools. Tools that we didn’t even know we needed yet.

Communication Trends: Voice Search

Speaking of voice (see what I did there?), while it is already a trend, Kent Lewis foretells further innovation and brand involvement in the space:

Digital assistants will dramatically affect the way consumers search in 2019.

The 2018 holiday season will prime the pump with consumers purchasing large quantities of voice-assisted devices. These include Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple iPhones with Siri, and Microsoft Cortana devices.

The Android, Windows, and Apple device users will speak directly to their devices to conduct searches as well as manage their lives.

How consumers verbally communicate significantly varies from how individuals type out search queries. Because of this variation in behavior, you will begin to see more long-tail keyword queries.

This will allow brands to create much more accurate and intelligent keyword search optimization strategies, since more granular data will be available around consumer behavior.

Voice search is also driving the need for brands to optimize for Position 0 on Google.

Position 0 is a sentence, list or table answer to common questions asked by Google users that appear above the organic search results.

This coveted position will become increasingly competitive, even as Google heavily moderates results. Lastly, brands will increasingly invest in custom voice skills for Amazon, which is now estimated at 35,000, to better connect and engage consumers.

The biggest opportunity in 2019, however, will be advertising, as Google and Amazon will start testing ad products with larger brands.

Communication Trends: Visual Search

And while voice will remain the talk of the town (I just can’t stop!), Natalia Wulfe sees visual search making more of an appearance (that was pretty good as well if I can say so myself):

While voice search gets all the attention these days (thanks to advances in smart home technology and virtual assistants, of course) visual search is poised to see record growth this year.

With visual search, consumers can simply take a picture with their smartphone and upload it to a search engine like Pinterest to quickly find that product for purchase online.

Or, they can use an image search to find products to complement the general aesthetic they are going for.

Pinterest has really pioneered this form of search. But Google will be close behind, with its already vast index of images.

What digital marketers can take away from this trend is the importance of integrating high-quality images throughout their website and making those images pinnable on Pinterest and indexable for Google. This will open up a much higher potential reach for searches of their products.

The online marketing community has been all abuzz about how voice search is changing the game with lengthier, more descriptive search queries compared to traditional search.

But, as they say, a picture is worth 1000 words! My belief is that visual search will have a much bigger impact on the fundamentals of search marketing than voice search will in 2019.

Communication Trends: AI and Social Listening

AI, of course, is also at the top of the list of what to continue watching in 2019. But Alrexey Orap‘s take on how it pertains to social listening is interesting:

In our opinion, AI developments in Social Media Listening will significantly impact the landscape of the industry in 2019. AI-powered Image Recognition technology is already being used by some brands which are early adopters and innovators and are ready for global demand.

This technology helps brands have a glimpse into their consumer lives. The brand is not mentioned explicitly in their social media posts, but it is present in the photos they publish.

It is an excellent way for marketers and PR specialists to learn more about product consumption situations, and uncover valuable consumer insights.

Some global FMCG brands have already tested our image recognition technology and are eager to use it extensively for their marketing and consumer research.

This technology has a various and large usage. For PR’s it can be especially interesting in working with influencers. Visual Insights will identify posts from all influencers who share images and photos containing the brand. All organic posts can be seen, including those that contain no text or hashtags, so your campaign can be native)

A typical text analysis only reveals faceless data when it comes to demographics.

Only Visual Insights will let PR specialists truly understand their consumers and identify the influencers among them.

Moreover, you’ll see everything that’s happening around your brand, its visual surroundings. This can include all kinds of unexpected objects and scenes.

You’ll also find out which brands are most often displayed alongside yours.

Who knows, maybe it’s a cross-promotion time! 🙂

Communication Trends: Stories

From Sherrilynne Starkie:

Stories will dominate as a social media format. They let advertisers tap urgent trends to gain high engagement and high impact exposure.

Snapchat innovated the stories format and Instagram perfected them.

They are gaining traction with Facebook users and Google and YouTube have both announced Story format features.

2019 will be the year for ‘Stories’.

Communication Trends: Chatbots!

We’ve been discussing chatbots a lot lately, and Brooke Sellas is keen to see it continue trending into 2019:

Excited about using chatbots to help clients with different business goals.

Communication Trends: Making Connections

The final word goes to Imogen Hitchcock this week, who feels that consumers don’t want to be sold to. They’re looking for more than that when they engage with a brand, product or service:

In 2019, it’s about businesses being more than the brand—audiences want to connect with companies.

They want to know the people and faces behind the corporate logo.

Up Next: Happy Holidays!

The next #SpinSucksQuestion will be the last before Christmas. And, while not everyone celebrates the season, it’s still fun to dig into gift giving ideas.

(Note: This may or may not be Mike’s ploy to figure out some last-minute gifts.)

So, the next #SpinSucksQuestion asks:

What are the best gifts (Christmas or otherwise) for communications professionals? 

Is it a nice new notebook for bullet journaling? A Netflix gift card? Even comms pros need to do some binging (bingeing?) over the holidays.

Perhaps it’s a signed Carson Wentz helmet (maybe that’s just me) or Auston Matthews jersey (that may be my son)?

Whatever it is, we want to hear your ideas!

You can answer here, in the free Spin Sucks community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!