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Public Relations Trends for 2020

These days, a good PR firm must have more than just good media contacts…

Why are we talking about the top public relations trends for 2020? There is no question that the world of public relations has changed drastically in the past decade. We can expect that to continue as we enter the next decade. More outlets are closing. New ones are opening. Media staff is being reduced and stretched thinner than ever, as emerging forms of news and influence continue to evolve. It can be tough to keep up. But a true PR professional must stay current with the changing times in order to meet (and exceed) our clients’ expectations, so here are a few of the public relations trends to watch for in the coming year.

Top 5 Public Relations trends for 2020

#1: Optimization

This trend takes a cue from the world of digital advertising. In that world, A/B testing is common, results are measured, and the best performing ads are moved forward to connect with the best audiences. That’s what helps digital ad campaigns get the best possible results.  It’s the same approach that PR firms should be taking. Running with multiple versions of a pitch at one time, evaluating KPIs, and changing up variables to find the optimal results will be key. What sort of factors can you experiment with? Get creative! Think beyond email subject lines – although that’s definitely an important part of a pitch to get right! Change up the highlighted intro benefits; swap out different offers; reach out at different times. In fact, reach out to different audiences and see which ones are most receptive to your optimized message. Once you’ve gotten your pitch tweaked for maximum performance, THEN you can push it out to as many of the ideal recipients you’ve identified.

#2: Getting Personal

This trend also takes inspiration from the movement in marketing towards personalizing as much as possible. It’s a fantastic way to connect to consumers – so why not to connect to journalists, producers, editors and other media professionals? Coke experienced such success after introducing their personalized bottles that they’ve gone well beyond the “typical” first names at this point. And it doesn’t look like they’ll be ditching bottles with names on them anytime soon. As an ego-driven species, we are naturally attracted to things that are about us. So making your brand about someone in a very specific, personal way creates almost a magnetic attraction. We referenced the PR trend of personalization a while back when we wrote about the hard-hitting impact of double-hit PR. That’s how you can leverage personalization as a way to become worthy of a journalist’s Instagram account even before they feature your brand in some sort of editorial coverage.

#3: The Gig Economy

More and more people are starting to take advantage of the gig economy as a way to live their best life. Why is this a PR trend for 2020? Well, as professionals across industries from Uber drivers to fractional CFOs have shown, the gig economy can allow people to find the best use of their time. For some, that may be better split among different work scenes instead of the typical full-time job. Well guess what? That can be great for both sides of the equation! Not only does it allow PR mavens to work where (and on which accounts) they want, it also allows employers to utilize multiple giggers for the same price as one full-timer, while leveraging a very specific areas of expertise with direct media contacts. I expect to see more and more agencies using a hybrid model. Agencies will supplement fulltime staffers with giggers to fill the holes in terms of schedules as well as account specificities.

Social Media in PR#4: Unstagram Influencers

When Instagram announced earlier that they would begin removing likes, I’m pretty sure I felt a tremble emanating from influencers everywhere. If brands cannot get access to KPIs like the all-important “like,” will the reign of influencers be officially over? No way. First of all, influencers exist in many spaces beyond Instagram. And second, younger audiences will always find new social channels to flock to – so that they can both escape the watchful eyes of older generations as well as the intrusive ads of brands. So if you’re looking to next level your influencer strategy, consider tapping bloggers, vloggers, podcasters… And yes, if Gen-Z is on your radar, it’s time to start checking out TikTok.

#5: Podcasts

Hyperfocused PR can be some of the most effective PR. It can speak to an audience with a great deal of specificity, instead of being “generally” appealing or informative. There are currently more than 800,000 podcasts and that trend continues to grow – providing a nearly limitless opportunity to get your brand in front of an incredibly pinpointed audience.

When crafting a PR pitch opportunity for podcasts, it’s important to really understand what the podcast is about, who the host is, and why your product / service / thought leader / subject matter expert is a good fit. Please don’t try to force it. Traditionally, “spin” may help get squarish pegs in roundish holes from time to time, but not so with podcasts. Those who listen to podcasts don’t do so by default. They choose their podcasts by design. Make sure what you are pitching makes absolute sense. When it does, even a small podcast can have big results (especially if you boost the signal by merchandising the recording across all of your other channels).

As we enter a new decade, there are so many new PR opportunities to be excited about! Yet, the more things change, the more some things stay the same: represent your brand with authenticity, do your homework to make sure you’re a fit for the media you are pitching, and be creative in your approach.



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