3 PR Trends to Watch Out For in 2018
As the seasoned communications experts will tell you, the only way to beat the pack to the best placements is to be ahead of the curve, keeping a close eye on the future. To help you school the best of the rest, our PR Business Unit Director, Monica Braganca van der Spuy, shares her insight on three PR trends that she believes will make a big impact on the communications world this year, each of which you will have to become familiar with to stay at the top of your Public Relations game.
Unless you have been living under a rock, it would have been very hard to miss this influencer trend in recent months, and we predict that the Micro-Influencer will really take centre stage in 2018. Unlike massive celebrities with millions of social media followers, Micro-Influencers boast a smaller tribe of followers, usually in the thousands to tens of thousands. But why would a brand use a Micro-Influencer, as opposed to George Clooney selling your coffee pods?
These minor social media celebrities act as sharp-shooting snipers when it comes to target market segmentation. Because of their niche interests, these opinion leaders boast far superior engagement rates to their big celebrity counterparts, by tapping into a localised and ‘friend-of-a-friend’ type of mentality to leverage influence. The numbers back up this theory, with a clear downward correlation between follower sizes and post likes, as found by Markerly in an analysis of more than 800 000 Instagram accounts.
Functional Thought Leadership
This trend is in line with the hyper-localised approach that is sweeping the PR landscape, necessitating a personal interest and practical use case for readers, serving the purpose of illustrating a brand’s functional expertise and industry leading qualities. Although the thought leadership article has long been in the arsenal of communications experts in the industry, to position a brand as a taste-maker and leader of the pack, this trend is taking a slightly different approach to the classically detached CEO think piece floating around on LinkedIn.
As opposed to the high level and often operationally vague thought leadership article – along the generic lines of “5 Morning Habits of Highly Successful CEOs” – this trend takes on a more specialised office-level approach. Seeking out the expertise of senior staffers such as creative directors and heads of department, these thought leadership pieces will be dishing out very industry specific and technically relevant tips and tricks, along with a prediction of where the industry is headed as envisioned by someone that is fighting in the trenches, not holidaying in Monaco.
Not to be confused with dark posting on social media platforms such as Facebook, Dark Social is a term coined by Atlantic writer Alexis Madrigal. According to Madrigal, the sharing we see on sites like Facebook and Twitter – drooled over by PR personnel as quantitative proof-of-work for their clients – is only the tip of the social sharing iceberg. Dark Social is what lurks beneath the surface, uncaptured by the likes of Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics.
This happens when users share links by bypassing the share button, simply copying, and pasting the link and sending it via instant messenger or email, or even when following a link from a secure (https) to a non-secure (http) site. This may be done for numerous reasons, often as simple as not letting the whole world know that they wanted to share a video of a bulldog riding a skateboard. But whatever the reason, it’s happening increasingly, as savvy internet users make a conscious effort to bypass sharing channels that easily capture their data – with up to 69% of social referrals coming from Dark Social. So, although not immediately measurable, PR specialists will need to think about (or at least be conscious of) this hugely pervasive phenomenon when putting together their PR strategies in 2018.
Yes, we did promise you three, but we’ve thrown in a bonus trend anyway. Lucky you! Our last PR trend to look out for in the year to come is the movement towards Integrated PR. This is something that has gradually been happening over the last few years, but again, we see this trend really coming into its own in 2018. It is becoming critically important for PR and its executors to understand (and strategise for) wider business goals beside their own. The days of PR living in its own silo are over, and all parts of a communications strategy need to fit together to attain maximum success.
As a multiple award-winning marketing and communications agency that prides itself in its forward-thinking PR approach, Clockwork Media can help brands effectively take advantage of these trends. Using an integrated style that perfectly positions brands in the media as a thought leader in their industry, we bring clients qualitative and quantitative returns on their PR and marketing spend.