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!