Top PR Trends for 2018: Part 1

When I first joined the Dittoe Public Relations team in 2006, one of our go-to research methods was thumbing through the paper-thin pages of the 10-lb printed Bacon’s Media Directory (maybe a slight exaggeration, but that thing was heavy). It took way too much time flipping through its thousands of pages just to find one good contact.

I can confidently say I don’t miss those days. I’m so thankful for the evolution of public relations over the past 12 years and the tools and tactics that make the lives of PR professionals easier, so we can produce amazing results for our clients.

Today’s blog post is part one of a two-part series that will look at four trends shaping PR in 2018. Part two will be posted by Dittoe PR VP and Partner (and PR phenom) Lauren Sanders.

 

Continued rise of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has grown significantly over the past few years. It’s no longer a nice-to-have for PR pros and the businesses they represent, but a must-have. It should come as no surprise considering that 88 percent of people trust online recommendations as much as they do endorsements from family and friends, according to data compiled by NoGre.

 

Social influencers are now just as important to consider in your PR strategy as coverage in traditional media outlets. Stories on Instagram, Snaps on Snapchat, a post on a blog or a video review on YouTube all have the ability to change the way people feel about a brand and influence purchasing decisions.

 

On a personal note, the LIKEtoKNOW.it shopping app has changed the way I buy clothes. Instead of trying to decide what I think is cool to wear, I now rely on the best-dressed social influencers to tell me—and purchase what they recommend. I’d venture to say that three-quarters of the clothes I bought last year were because someone on social media told me to (sad, but true).

 

In 2017, Social Media Today reported that the average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day—that’s a total of 5 years and 4 months over a lifetime. In 2018, these numbers will only increase, and influencer marketing will be more important than ever.

 

Often, businesses aren’t strategic in their decisions about the influencers to partner with and end up wasting time, money and resources. There are several key considerations to evaluate before relying on influencers to drive meaningful business results, including:

 

  • Think quality over quantity. Just because an influencer has 1 million followers, doesn’t make them the best fit for your brand.
  • For sponsored Instagram posts, consider micro-influencers, or those with followers in the 10,000-100,000 range, as they often have a more highly engaged following that is more inclined to purchase your brand’s products or services.
  • What is your brand image and how does that align with the influencer’s?
  • Who is the influencer’s audience and are they relevant to your own?
  • Does the geographic location of the influencer and his/her followers matter to your business?
  • What are the terms of the agreement? Many influencers charge a fee for a meaningful partnership. Be clear about your expectation for frequency of posts and engagement.
  • How can you track the impact of the partnership? Customized promo codes are one idea to measure the results.

 

Evolution of the press release

For years, many PR professionals have said that the press release is dead, or less dramatically, on its way out. While I think there’s still a lot of life left in the press release, I do agree that it has gone from always-necessary to a good supplement for a great media pitch.

At Dittoe PR, we stopped encouraging our clients to distribute their press releases via wire services several years ago for a few reasons. The links aren’t permanent, unlike earned media stories that we pitch and obtain for our clients, which stay online indefinitely. Also, press releases distributed on wire services aren’t usually picked up on quality news sites. Quite frankly, it’s also quite expensive to use a wire service. In short, wire services rarely guarantee lasting, meaningful, organic media coverage.

Personalized outreach to the media is the way to go to get the best earned media coverage, and it’s what we do best.

In 2018, the press release will evolve beyond text-heavy Word docs with lengthy paragraphs that no one reads entirely. Instead, PR professionals will think digitally and start embedding more videos, images and graphics to bring their client’s news to life. Copy will be minimal and only include the most pertinent details of the announcement.

Press releases do still matter, but in 2018, we need to give them a much-needed makeover.

 

Come back to our blog next week for part two of this series on the latest trends shaping PR in 2018. In the meantime, if your brand could benefit from working with social influencers and generating meaningful media coverage, we’d love to talk with you!

Now Hiring: Talented Account Coordinator or Executive Needed

Calling all PR pros! We have an immediate opening for an Account Coordinator or Account Executive position.

 

Account Coordinators are responsible for assisting in the execution of strategic public relations initiatives on behalf of the firm’s clients. This entry-level position is an opportunity for a smart, self-starting, detail-oriented individuals to develop a well-rounded roster of public relations skills and contribute to a variety of Dittoe Public Relations’ clients. The ideal candidate will have strong communication skills (both verbal and written), creativity, high energy and an outgoing personality. A strong emphasis is placed on media relations, research and analysis, reporting and client communication.

 

Account Executives are responsible for developing and executing strategic public relations initiatives on behalf of the firm’s clients. The ideal candidate will have excellent communication skills (both verbal and written), strong creativity, high energy and an outgoing personality. A strong emphasis is placed on media relations, strategic account management and client communication. We need self-starters and team players who enjoy spreading the word for the firm’s clients.

 

Limited travel may be required for press tours, trade shows and client meetings. Preference will go toward those with relevant professional work or internship experience in public relations or a related field (agency experience is a plus). Salary will reflect level of experience and includes a great benefits package. Other perks include a gym membership, breakfast on Fridays, a weekly half-day work from home policy, summer flex hours, Wine Wednesdays, the “Wheel of Celebration” to celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries, breakfast/lunch & learns, unlimited vacation time and paid maternity/paternity leave.

 

Account Coordinator Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, marketing, English or a related field
  • Internships or 1-2 years of relevant professional work experience in public relations or a related field (agency experience is a plus)
  • Smart, creative, assertive and innovative individual who thrives in an extremely fast-paced environment
  • Flexibility and willingness to collaborate with teams
  • Must be a versatile writer with both creative and technical writing experience
  • Must demonstrate an understanding of media relations (direct experience is a plus)
  • Proven ability to effectively prioritize and manage multiple tasks and competing deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Knowledge in social media, design, photography/videography are a plus

 

Account Executive Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, marketing, English or a related field
  • At least two years of full-time, relevant experience in public relations or a related field (agency experience is a plus)
  • Smart, creative, assertive and innovative individual who thrives in an extremely fast-paced environment
  • Flexibility and willingness to collaborate with teams
  • Must be a talented and versatile writer with both creative and technical writing experience
  • Media relations experience with a successful track record of pitching and securing opportunities
  • Successful track record of developing strategic public relations and social media campaigns
  • Proven ability to manage multiple client accounts in a variety of industries
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
  • Knowledge in social media, design, photography/videography are a plus

 

For more information about these and other positions, visit our Careers page. To apply, send your cover letter, resume with references, and writing samples to Greta Snell at greta@dittoepr.com.

The dirty secret about online content and shrinking attention spans

RIP-attention-span

 

This article was first published on Ragan’s PR Daily.

 
I’m tired of hearing marketers, journalists, and PR people use “shrinking attention spans” to explain why their content sucks.

In an article about the role of public relations in a rapidly evolving media landscape—with which I otherwise agreed—David Armano, managing director of Edelman Digital Chicago, noted the following.

“The people we want to reach move effortlessly across a media landscape about which they rarely make distinctions. Increasingly, they spend time on mobile devices, skimming content in ‘streams or feeds.’ The average consumer of media has the attention span of a squirrel on Ritalin. Getting them to pause to read anything more than a paragraph is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Shrinking attention spans and squirrel comparisons have become go-to arguments for why people no longer consume long-form articles or online videos lasting longer than two minutes. But this is a cop out. The real reason people don’t consume longer forms of media is that most digital publishers don’t want them to.

Shrinking attention spans are the symptom, not the problem 

Let me be clear, I am not arguing against the body of evidence supporting our diminishing attention spans. Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators conclude that the Internet is an environment that promotes perfunctory reading and distracted thinking.
Nor am I accusing anyone on the team at Edelman Digital of producing bad content. They are, in fact, trail blazers in the space.
I’m simply taking exception to the stance that digital publishers can no longer produce compelling long-form content because of shrinking attention spans.

Our shrinking attention spans are the symptom, not the problem.
The problem is that digital media is designed to be clicked, consumed, and spread as quickly as possible. Although the rallying cry is “content is king,” the reality of the Internet is that “clicks are king,” because clicks are what drive ad revenue.

The goal for digital publishers is not to produce well-written, thought-provoking articles and videos, but to create content that can be spread quickly and easily. How can readers quickly spread content if it takes them several minutes to read or watch it? Every single second a reader spends reading an article is one more second that could have been used to encourage the reader to share it, click through to the next piece of content, and repeat. Click, consume, spread.

In fact, it doesn’t even matter if the content is consumed, as long as it’s shared. Reading doesn’t generate ad dollars. So whenever you hear a media pundit proclaim, “Long-form journalism is dead!” what they mean to say is “Long-form journalism isn’t lucrative.”
It’s not that people won’t read long-form content, it’s that the nature of digital publishing has seemingly removed any incentive to produce content that takes longer than eight seconds to consume.

Healthier options are available 

As a result, digital media is being pushed further and further in the direction of becoming the fast food of content—it’s quick, cost effective, and not very good for you. But just as there is growing demand for healthy options at the drive-thru, there are significant changes taking hold in the realm of digital content that stem from the audience’s demand for quality.

For instance, Taulbee Jackson, founder and president of digital marketing firm Raidious, pointed to recent algorithm shifts in social and search platforms, such as Facebook and Google, as evidence of growing demand among consumers for better content. In a recent interview, he explained:

“Search results ranking algorithms like Google’s Panda and Penguin and Facebook’s EdgeRank were put in place to defend users against being exposed to bad content. Think about the ramifications for that. There is so much bad content that these companies felt it was necessary to help their users proactively filter out all the irrelevant noise. That is a big deal.” 

You can also look to movements like the one led by Mark Armstrong, founder of Longreads.com, as evidence of our growing demand for quality.
Longreads posts daily links to long-form journalism and magazine stories from publications including The New YorkerThe Atlantic, and Rolling Stone, as well as short stories, interview transcripts, historical documents and yes, even blog posts.

As the name suggests, a typical Longread is at least 1,500 words. The @longreads Twitter account has more than 82,600 followers, many of whom use the hashtag #longreads to share URLs to long-form stories they find around the Web.

Short doesn’t always equal bad 

I’m not suggesting that when it comes to content, long equals good and short equals bad. I, like everyone else, applauded Oreo’s profoundly simple, yet genius Super Bowl blackout tweet. But saying that people won’t—or as many arguments suggest—can’t process something more substantial than a picture of an Oreo followed by seven words because of their eroding attentions spans is simply untrue.

Marketers, PR people and journalists: Before you start dissecting what is an otherwise great piece of content just so that it can be consumed in the amount of time it takes to read this sentence, please reconsider. Your audience will read it. Then they will share it. And you will have engaged them in a way that few have.

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