PR Trends

As we bid farewell to a tumultuous year for the media industry, what lies in store for the PR industry for 2019? PR Consultant, Rhiannon Sager analyses the biggest PR trends predicted to transform the way businesses approach their PR strategy, and how to best integrate them into existing PR strategies.

The past year has witnessed a seismic shift in the media landscape with online media outlets continuing to grow at a rapid rate, leading to the inevitable closure of an alarming number of print media publications. This monumental change has forced businesses to move away from more traditional PR strategies and embrace the new opportunities the digital world presents.

I have identified three key trends which look set to impact on the way businesses approach their PR strategies:

A shift towards content-based PR

As the volume of news content consumers are bombarded with grows, and time pressures increase, in order to cut though this noise and deliver content which consumers truly engage with, a PR professional needs to be able to craft well thought-out and desirable content.

Content in PR is increasingly being used to tell a brand’s story, engage and deliver value to the audience rather than simply providing key words for search engines. Creating original, thought-provoking content can give anyone on the internet the chance to find this content and use a quote for an article, contact a business for a new press opportunity or include a direct weblink as a resource.

In addition, if businesses have content under a specific industry figure-head, pitching journalists will be easier because they will have proven themselves to be a credible source when they search for more information.

Linkless mentions in media coverage become more important

Backlinks are one of the strongest measures and generators of web traffic and so securing a press mention or feature that links to the business website has been the ultimate goal for PR campaigns. The consequence of this was the inclusion of a particular web link being the priority for media coverage, rather than the quality of the press coverage secured or value of the audience reached. However, as technology improves, search engines are becoming smarter and can better understand the context of a press mention even without a direct website link, leading to linkless media mentions now proving effective within campaigns.

The direct consequence of this advance is an even greater need for brands to ensure its web content is truly unique and engaging to ensure search engines can recognise specific content linked to a brand.

A move away from Press Releases

While press releases are still relevant and should remain a key element within a PR strategy, the reality is most businesses aren’t constantly releasing new groundbreaking services or products or doing newsworthy things. Therefore, it is advisable to start to look at alternative ways of gain and maintain media attention as well as engage with new audiences.

One way businesses can look at earning press attention is through services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which helps journalists find potential sources for their articles.

This can even be taken offline by networking with leaders, subject matter experts, and media contacts at industry events. At these events, quotes may be exchanged and banked for upcoming articles. This helps build relationships with these contacts, turning a simple conversation or an expert quote into a potential lead or a future resource for press mentions or other content.

To best prepare for success in 2019, businesses should ensure they are aware of these trends. Where possible and budget permits, businesses should look at whether there is scope to integrate at least some, if not all, of the changes outlined into their PR strategy. The most important aspect to focus on, which is a common theme running through the changes, is content. If businesses can devote time and resource to developing rich content, they will be best placed to reap the rewards from their communications.