7 lessons PR pros learned in 2017
2017 has been a whirlwind. Seems there’s never a dull moment.
As we approach the end of a tumultuous year, it’s time to stop to reflect on what we as PR pros have learned. Here are seven lessons to take away from 2017:
1. Fake news is now just a part of our reality
Post-truth was the word of the year in 2016. Whether we like it or not, the public no longer trusts the news media—and this directly affects what we as public relations professionals do.
So, what does that mean for us? It means that it’s more important than ever for brands to build a community of loyal fans and followers. And, it means that we need to double down on fact-checking and working with reputable journalists and publications.
2. Keeping our crisis communications skills up to date matters now more than ever
2017 came with its share of major brands in crisis. United. Pepsi. Uber. The list goes on.
A crisis can strike anytime and affect any brand. That means we need to be ready. Ready with a crisis communications plan that includes a sincere apology, followed by steps to help stem the damage and rebuild trust.
3. Reputation management should be front and center for brands
In light of the above, the need for brands to sharpen their focus on their reputations is a must.
If your brand is hit by a crisis or somehow sucked into a fake news vortex, it’ll already be ahead if its reputation is unblemished —and it’s stayed out in front of the public with positive news stories.
4. Branded content continues to grow in popularity
Looking at how branded (or sponsored) content plays an increasingly important role in promoting an organization, we may need to be more flexible in considering paid opportunities for clients.
Some in our profession are married to the idea that PR equals purely earned media – period. No payment should change hands.
But, as earned media merges with paid, it could open up more opportunities not only for our clients, but for those of us with training in journalism. With our writing and interviewing skills, many in PR are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this trend.
5. Don’t take your eye off video
A report from Cisco predicts that 78 percent of the world’s mobile traffic will be video by 2021. How should we in public relations be factoring video into our efforts?
Trends picking up steam include user-generated video, which can be a cost-effective way to tell a brand’s story through the eyes of its fans. Live streaming via Facebook Live and Instagram Live, both of which have millions of viewers, should be on your radar, if you haven’t already experimented with them.
6. We need to be data scientists
It’s true—many a PR pro has lamented, “I’m not a mathematician.” Unfortunately, that won’t cut it in our current environment.
We need to take steps to ensure that our data measurement skills are where they need to be. Learning more about Google Analytics is a good start. And, using tools like Muck Rack can help pros gather and interpret data.
7. Don’t underestimate the role artificial intelligence (AI) will play in PR
We knew it was gonna be big. Now, we’re starting to understand how big.
“Data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence should make public relations easier for most companies, from predicting when customer interest will be highest to identifying potential crises and mitigating them before they explode,” says Christopher Penn, vice president of marketing technology at Shift Communications.
Those are a few things we’ve learned this year, PR pros. What lessons did you take away from 2017?
You'll find Michelle Messenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and award-winning writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, Spin Sucks, Freelancers Union and others. She was named a Top 100 PR Influencer by Onalytica. Michelle also serves on the advisory board of Women in PR USA.
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