The holidays are nearly here, and everyone is rushing to finish up work for the year. Products need to be manufactured and delivered. Client projects have to be finished. Year-end tasks need to be completed.
But it's also time to take a look forward to see what you and your business should be prepared for in 2014.
This year has been another one of many changes; with technology evolving so quickly, it's nearly impossible to keep up. The Web has completely turned the role of public relations professional on its head, and, because that's my expertise, it's the lens from which I take a long, hard look at the world of business.
If you're a business leader or entrepreneur, here are the five PR trends you should watch for in the coming year:
If you're a regular BuzzFeed reader, you're already accustomed to seeing sponsored content on this site. If you're not, you'll notice that as you scroll through the site's home page, content appears in a light yellow box. While this content matches the look and feel of the entire site, it's paid for by an organization. The content doesn't upset the user experience, and the organization gains the value of attracting a larger audience.
While this content is written by the BuzzFeed staff, organizations can sponsor it for access to many more eyeballs.
Likewise, organizations of all sizes can sponsor content on websites, news sites, and blogs. For instance, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert has a sidebar on his blog where companies have provided him content for a fee. He's upfront about the relationship and the reader knows the organization has paid for the content, but also that Jay endorses it.
Because this is a new practice and not something everyone is yet doing, you can test it out in 2014. Approach your favorite industry blogger and make an offer. If they don't already do sponsored content, the offer may be a nice surprise and they'll be willing to work with you. If it's a site like BuzzFeed, the prices are already set and you'll have to negotiate your way inside.
Analytics And Data
For the longest time, PR efforts have been measured against advertising equivalencies and media impressions. Today, with all the data we have at our fingertips, those metrics seem antiquated. And yet ...
... if you're working with a PR professional—either someone you've hired internally or an outside firm—insist on real metrics that show how well the investment you're making is working. You should be reviewing such things as visitors who come to your site specifically from PR efforts, leads generated from content and email marketing, and conversions to customers through the sales process.
That said, people are going to get more and more sick of the crappy content that's so easily available today. From receiving emails they never signed up for to clicking on a link only to discover the content provides no value to them at all, many will begin to publicly criticize junky content.
When you're creating content for your own business, think to yourself, "Would I want to read/watch/listen to this if I didn't know us?" Gone are the days of push marketing. If your content isn't valuable, interesting, educational and engaging, you'll get negative feedback about it. The time you invest in content creation should not be wasted on boring, sales-y materials.
Evolve Or Die
A new study by the CMO Network shows that many chief marketing officers are unhappy with the role advertising and PR professionals play in driving results for their organizations. The study found that most think the industries are fat and lazy with no intention of evolving with technology.
The professionals you work with should be able to demonstrate how they're evolving. This means they aren't just a social media expert with a big, personal brand but that they're able to translate that skill into a business setting. Ask for case studies and references that prove they know how to integrate the traditional with the new.
Just like any other industry, we like to make up acronyms! PESO stands for the four media types—paid, earned, shared and owned—that PR professionals use to get the word out. Some of the larger PR firms announced this year that they're moving to a model that integrates all four types of media.
If you can't afford—or don't want to work with—a large agency, look for a firm that demonstrates the same capability. There are many out there that are experienced, flexible, nimble, willing to take risks and eager to help you integrate the four media types into your organization.
Who knows what next year will bring in terms of a new social network, deliveries by drone or new technologies, but if you integrate just one of these five PR trends, you'll be further ahead than your competition.
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