It seems there’s no end to the conversation over how public relations will change in the coming years. Predictions, warnings, and optimistic expectations about the future of PR and communications abound. It’s helpful for a PR team to consider what lies ahead, as it helps keep us sharp, adaptable, and in a constant learning mode. Looking too far ahead can be daunting, so here we consider what the next 10 years will bring.
Nuts and bolts won’t change. For all the upheaval in traditional media and the conversion to digital everything, the fundamental formula for telling stories and gaining public awareness remains the same. Getting stories into the public eye will continue to consist of researching, understanding the elements of a good story or idea, and knowing out how to package and tell it — or have someone else tell it — appropriately. How those things are executed — the where and when and how of it all — will evolve, but the underlying ideas will be the same.
More measurement, metrics, and quantifying value. In the age of data insights, nothing will escape the reach of precise measurement tools. As marketing and advertising become more data-driven and trackable, PR professionals will be expected to deliver the same kind of metrics and attribution. This is already happening more and more. In 10 years it won’t be unusual for PR to have its own data science experts to develop new tools and metrics for showcasing the value of PR.
More paid tactics like social advertising and sponsorships. Publishers are increasingly looking to monetize content everywhere, especially newer media startups without the legacy of a solid wall between editorial and advertising. This can be unnerving for those whose goal is earned media, but it’s good for content creators. It spells more opportunities for content creators, including brands and the PR teams behind them, with more platforms and channels amping up the competition for attention, but also the number of opportunities. It will be routine for PR pros to use paid media to amplify content distribution.
Imagination and creativity will rule. Paying for content won’t make it go viral or inspire the public — only the spark of imagination and creativity will be able to do that. In the age of higher quality content and greater competition for audiences, brands will be looking for more creative, novel, eye-catching ideas. The lines between social media and traditional media will have completely blurred. There won’t be a difference between what people talk about over drinks with friends versus what news pundits talk about on the airwaves.
Mobile video media will be the norm. We’re well on our way toward this trend. In 10 years time, shorter but more densely packed content will abound, including virtual reality. Video content quality will become more complex, yet easier to access from anywhere, requiring more technical teams, and more specialization of talent, behind the scenes.
Even more globalization. We’re already at the point where even the smallest of PR agencies have no problem working with international clients, as well as media scattered around the globe. But as communication technology improves, the workflow will become even more seamless. That will mean an even more relentless 24-hour cycle of news and work flow. A “distributed” workforce will be the rule, not the exception.