#FridayFive: Five PR Predictions for 2019

Friday Five

We’re now four days into the New Year and I’m hoping this January doesn’t last a lifetime like last January did. My New Year goals don’t actually kick in until Monday the 7th as I’m still at home in Ireland and well, there’s still a lot of Diet Coke left to be drank. But Monday the 7th, I’m coming for you.

I thought I’d start off 2019’s Friday Five with some PR predictions for this year. Based on current trends and patterns from the previous year, this is what I think will happen in the PR industry in 2019.

1. A new definition for ‘PR’

PR encompasses a vast range of business functions and I don’t think there is any longer solely one way to define the role. With Influencer marketing, media relations, SEO and campaign management just a few roles for a PR professional, the term ‘PR’ has become too broad.

A lot of people use the term loosely, calling someone hollering about free shots outside a nightclub a ‘PR’. When someone works in PR, what is it they do? They probably have a very different title that doesn’t mention PR. Maybe they’re an Account Executive, Publicist or Crisis Communications Manager. So what does PR have to do with it?

I think this is what confuses most young people when it comes to studying PR or contemplating the career path as they don’t fully grasp what PR actually is. I know when I first started the course I didn’t really understand it, or realise how many varying career paths someone could have from a degree in public relations.

2. PR will be seen as a vital function in organisations

I know a lot of PR teams that often have to justify their importance, their budget or the results they achieve for the business. Even though so many business leaders such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson and John D. Rockefeller realise the vitality of PR to a company, there are a lot of businesses out there that still stick the PR team in the corner and don’t really know what business function to list them under.

2019 will be the year that businesses see the importance of having a PR, Communications or Influencer Marketing team.

3. Influencer Marketing will continue to grow

Influencers aren’t going anywhere. I think there will be an increase in PR teams’ budgets or more of the budget will be set aside for Influencers – whether that be sponsored posts, press trips or gifting. Influencer Marketing has proved to work, but PR teams will have to come up with new ideas so as not to replicate previous or competitor Influencer campaigns.

4. New tools will be developed to understand ROI of Influencer Marketing

I’m very much hoping for this one. There isn’t really a definitive way to showcase the results of a campaign. Is it by calculating the reach? But what is the best way to calculate the reach? How do I know it’s actually worth something?

I also think new tools will be introduced to find suitable Influencers for campaigns. There are just so many bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers and Podcasters out there right now that it would be impossible to analyse them all. PR agencies are always looking to find the up-and-coming Influencers, the micro Influencers and those with a very engaged audience. There is a gap in the market for a database that allows a intricate search function looking at an Influencer’s follower range, engagement rate, specific interest, audience analysis and location.

5. Influencers scamming the system will be named and shamed

It’s been talked about for too long, without anyone actually naming the culprits. I think other Influencers are no longer going to sit back and watch these ‘Influencers’ that buy their followers or engagements continue to work with high-end brands when they aren’t considered. More and more people are calling out Influencers on social media for fake images, unauthentic advertising and working with brands just for the money.

Social media users follow these Influencers for inspiration in purchases, way of life or advice. They won’t be happy to find out those that they look up to and watch every day has been lying to them or selling them something that they wouldn’t buy themselves. Influencers may be trying to make a quick buck by getting involved with as much as possible as who knows when this Influencer phase will pass? I think this year will see a lot of Influencers being sussed out or even ruining their own careers with a small wrong move or by saying the wrong thing.

It’s hard to predict what this year will bring, with Brexit, Donald Trump and the media giving us surprises every day. From 2018, I think a lot of PR campaigns will focus on the controversy or shock factor, with the likes of Nike’s campaign with Colin Kaepernick, Burger King running out of chicken and Greggs recently bringing out the vegan sausage roll. If it offends Piers Morgan, it will probably trend on Twitter. 

Another prediction for 2019, not PR related: Liverpool win the Premier League.

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