30 Experts Predict Top PR Trends & Changes That Will Define 2016

We are lucky to practice PR in fascinating times. The profession has seen changes we would never, ever have predicted. I mean, in which universe could you have imagined yourself saying:

“I’m pretty sure I can do my work without the Bacon’s books.”
or:
“Never mind about mainstream media outlet! Make sure social media influencer gets a press pass!”
or:
“Of course your company can be my agency of record. So what if you’re not in the same city?”

What are the top trends that PR pros should be incorporating into their own strategies in 2016? How has technology changed the Public Relations industry? And what were the biggest challenges to the communications industry in the last year? Given our track record, no wonder we somewhat loath to make PR predictions that could so easily be upended in a decade or less. But, together with some great PR experts, I do think there are some trends PR pros should be ready to grapple with in 2016:

Stephen Waddington Chief Engagement Officer Ketchum

Stephen Waddington
Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

There are two areas, namely media and workflow. The narrative of the last decade has been a shift to digital and social forms of earned, paid and social media.
Much of the public relations business runs on Post-it notes and Excel spreadsheets. There are tools to optimise every area of workflow from listing and planning, to content and relationship management.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Modernising practice is the biggest issue we face as a profession. We’re shifting from publicity, broadcast and one-way dialogue to two-way forms of engagement. That’s a good thing; it’s what public relations always should have been.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

We’ve shifted from journalists being the primary influencer to a variety of people – and not only celebs – across different forms of media from Instagram to YouTube. A modern day Wild West is playing out across the internet. Paid sits along earned and every market has its own ecosystem. This is a big area for me in my day job at Ketchum in 2016.

Sergey Avakyan-Rzhevskiy PR Manager BlaBlaCar

Sergey Avakyan-Rzhevskiy
PR Manager
BlaBlaCar

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

PR is not an independent branch, but service – a layer between the company / personality/ a subject and the public world, therefore it adjusts to the world around us. As the world around us is rapidly becoming more and more technologically advanced, there is the media, which only exists on the iPad, or journalists who collect information only on Twitter, so PR is forced to master the technology to their advantage. There is an extensive field of activities which include technology starting from monitoring mentions about the company (or any subject) to the possibility of being in touch with journalists through convenient (for them) communication channels – social networks, WhatsApp or Twitter. Today, technology plays a huge role in PR.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

2015 and what you have learned from it? The main difficulty was to quickly adapt to technological changes. For example, the popularity of Twitter and Foursquare in Russia has fallen dramatically over the last year, and at the same time we see how the popularity of Periscope is growing quickly. We change and will change together with the market.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

The mass reader leaves the “smart” media with large amount of the text and he often draws his attention to the “simple” media – YouTube (there is no need to read, you can just look), Instagram (picture and minimum amount of the text).

Stuart Bruce International PR Adviser and Trainer Stuart Bruce Associates Southamton Sollent University

Stuart Bruce
International PR Adviser and Trainer
Stuart Bruce Associates
Southamton Sollent University

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

The role of technology in public relations is mainly making what we do easier, faster or most importantly better. It’s external role is it has changed the environment that we work in and the way people act.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Biggest challenge was in politics where Labour failed to win the general election and then elected a disastrous leader resulting in civil war. I’m reminded of the most important lesson there is – never give up. I’ve got two options for ‘one’ prediction (as the first might be too UK centric).

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Biggest impact on PR in the UK will be the EU referendum which will dominate mainstream and social media and if lost will seriously damage the UK PR industry.
Communications becomes even more fragmented as more people try to escape the controlling algorithms of Facebook distorting what they see. They won’t leave Facebook, but they’ll be in more other places.

Michał Bonarowski Senior PR Brand Manager Corporate Communication Department Allegro

Michał Bonarowski
Senior PR Brand Manager
Corporate Communication Department
Allegro

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Currently, little. Of course, IT & modern apps are being used by everyone working in PR, but PR campaigns with an element of technology (eg. interactive, creative delivery or personalised sections of a web page) are a rarity.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Building interactive media in a widely known company – which should be easy since I’ve had over 15 years of journalistic experience – proved to be very complex. Legal organisation, budget or time – it’s necessary to think of everything when planning your own communication activities based on valuable content. Thanks to this challenge we know what’s more important and what’s less – and we will try to use this knowledge in practice.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

More and more high quality and engaging content will be delivered by amateurs who don’t work in traditional or new media. Format doesn’t matter – the important thing is to be present in customers’ minds, where less and less space is occupied by brands.

Associate Director at Clearbox PRCA Best New UK Consultancy 2015

John Megaughin

Associate Director at Clearbox
PRCA Best New UK Consultancy 2015

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

A crucial role – it provides the platform for PR practitioners to communicate. Without a means to get the message to press, stakeholders or consumers, PR simply wouldn’t work.

From a business perspective, developments in technology has made the global marketplace smaller for all companies, including PR agencies.

Our office is in Belfast but we work with clients around the world thanks to technology. A typical day at Clearbox can involve video conference meetings with clients in Berlin, Dublin, North America and London. 30 years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible – these clients would have likely worked with agencies in their local markets but technology makes it easier than ever before to do business around the world without leaving your desk.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Understanding how tax works in different countries, what you have to pay and what you’re exempt from. It’s an educational experience and my key learning is hire a good accountant!

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Paid content. It’s been the elephant in the room for many a PR agency for a while now and it’s not going away. It’s time to embrace it as part of a wider communications strategy. Good ideas will still win the day, though…

Chris Sherwood Head of Public Policy Allegro Group

Chris Sherwood
Head of Public Policy
Allegro Group

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Digital technologies provide increasingly important tools for spreading messages to target policy maker audiences. They also make an unprecedented amount of information easily available. I think that we will also soon see technology be used to power big data analytics that will help us understand some of the mechanics of policy making – notably the ‘who’, the ‘where’, the ‘how’, and the ‘when’. The ‘why’ will inevitably be harder to decipher.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge for us was dealing with the political atmosphere surrounding the Data Protection Regulation1. Former Commissioner Reding, as well as key figures in the European Parliament and senior Commission officials, very effectively portrayed the draft as an attempt to rein in Facebook and Google, and any opposition as being somehow representative of Silicon Valley. We tried, and ultimately failed to a great extent, to turn this around and get policy makers to understand that the effects of the Regulation would be far more severe for European companies than for foreign ones. We learned a lot from how industry represented itself, but we are still early in the learning process and are discussing this as I write.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

2016 will see the awakening of the European tech industry in public policy.

Sam Hurley Founder OPTIM-EYEZ

Sam Hurley
Founder
OPTIM-EYEZ

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

The rise of Social Media, mobile phone usage, live streaming and apps have made PR super functional and adaptive to all channels of Marketing. Technology has increased our ability to reach out, build relationships, listen to fans and distribute brand voice to massive audiences within just a few clicks. Businesses must now utilise these tools to make an impact (and remain ahead of competition).

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Balancing creation and distribution of content. This is essential to get right! It pays to spend 80% of your time promoting content, leaving the smaller portion for creation. I’ve learned by experience and now focus much of my efforts on relationships, 24/7. Don’t get hung up on intricacies of projects.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Has to be spend on content amplification. It’s a day and age where we are witnessing complete saturation of the market. Demand of content marketing, blogging, news etc remains constant whereas supply is exponential. Marketers are being forced to dig deep into their pockets in order to get eyeballs on their material – it’s a hectic world with lots of noise to rise above. Technology feeds the beast: eMarketer predicts that by the end of the year, mobile ads will account for just under 52% of all digital ad spend.

Ewa Łabno-Falęcka, Ph.D. Head of External Affairs Mercedes-Benz Polska

Ewa Łabno-Falęcka
Head of External Affairs
Mercedes-Benz Polska

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

It’s slowly getting the same importance in PR as it already has in marketing. Go mobile and get social – we can’t achieve that without technology.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

One media campaign that unleashed itself (without spending a penny!) was when Mercedes-Benz collaborated with writer Szczepan Twardoch. It affirmed my conviction that a Facebook post can start a national discussion on many topics (What role a writer plays in society? What’s proper for a writer? Why are writers’ royalties not enough for them to live comfortably? Why Polish people read less and less? Why publishers pay so little?). Gut feeling is sometimes better than lengthy analysis and expensive focus groups.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

The triumph of content marketing will have an impact on how we communicate in the PR world (the impact is visible even now). Effective content marketing can’t exist without PR. If content marketing is defined as “strategical approach in marketing concentrating on creation and distribution of valuable, significant and consistent content, using them to attract a target group, and to achieve a profitable client’s action”, then it’s partly PR’s task. If content is the king, then integrated communication is the queen2. The future belongs to integrated marketing communication. Its tools – PR, advertising, digital marketing, smartphones – can’t exist without one another anymore.

Steve Falla PR Founder Orchard PR, CIPR Chartered Practitioner and PDMC member

Steve Falla
PR Founder Orchard PR, CIPR Chartered Practitioner and PDMC member

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

There are so many tools available to the PR practitioner, thanks to advances in technology and the digital revolution. When used wisely these technological add-ons can transform a good campaign to an excellent one; but a tool is only as good as the person using it and sometimes less is more. However, a combination of the blurring of marketing disciplines over recent years and the arrival of new technology has significantly changed the face of the communications profession.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

It can be challenging to ensure that we give clients the best advice even when that means sometimes pushing back on requests and managing expectations. It is essential that PR practitioners act with the highest ethics and integrity in order that public relations can rightly justify its status as a profession. Personally, I found it challenging to be one of nine practitioners assessed for CIPR Chartered Practitioner at the first Chartership Assessment Day. The work involved in that refreshed and reinforced my commitment to the highest standards which I shall carry forward into 2016.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

I wish I had a crystal ball but I hope that the work done over the last year to embrace diversity, equality and value more meaningfully in PR (represented by the #FuturePRoof community) will continue to increase in impact. This will not only benefit organisations and clients but increase engagement and ultimately the benefit of professional public relations practice to society.

Andrzej Gruszka PR Manager Mind Progress Group

Andrzej Gruszka
PR Manager
Mind Progress Group

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Technology surrounds us. We can’t reject it. Technology accompanies us every day and it’s here to stay. Thanks to this, we can enrich PR with new possibilities and make daily tasks easier. All this to better utilize the potential of our clients’ brands.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Last year was full of challenges. However, the most significant to me are the ones that are constantly ongoing and evolving. Thus, in the first place, I’d point to the educational project, Marketing Progress, in which I’m involved. Marketing Progress is not only a knowledge conference and rapport based on research in different areas of communication. It’s also a series of e-magazines and micro-meetings aimed to educate the broader marketing industry and a whole machinery based on different channels and automation of tasks. What did this project teach me? Thanks to it, I realise how many opportunities to develop Marketing Progress we have, which lets me spin ambitious plans for the future.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

End of the technology sceptics era – and there’s still plenty of them in the PR industry. Changes in the way we communicate force PR experts to educate themselves further and look at the communication from a wider perspective. The ability to create multimedia content, appeal to customers, master new technologies and creativity (not as a talent, but as a tool to complete tasks) – these are only a few necessary attributes of a modern PR specialist. Public relations is still the bridge in communication between companies and their customers. The channels and ways of distribution, however, have changed and now it’s up to PR experts to translate their skills into the everyday work with brands.

Anna Miotk Communication Director, PBI annamiotk.pl

Anna Miotk
Communication Director, PBI
annamiotk.pl

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

When I compare PR in 2001, when I started working in the field, to PR now, I can certainly say that the role of technology in PR greatly increased.

The first example is managing the communication with press and customers. A couple of years ago, only a few PR agencies had their own systems to manage tasks and send content to email databases. Currently these systems are available to everyone, because their model of distribution has changed. Now, expensive, bespoke software exists on the market, alongside cheap and easy to use SaaS services.

The second example is PR reports. Just a few years ago, clients received printed out reports with press materials scanned in. Currently, most clients prefer digital reports. Technologies that combine press releases with materials based on their activities in the media are also available. A PR specialist needs to have certain knowledge of different solutions in analysis (not only press monitoring, but also web analysis and social media analysis), and from the number of indicators, pick the ones that are in line with established objectives.

The third example is content creation. Managing PR activities nowadays is based not only on communicating with traditional media outlets, but also managing brand profiles in social media, or content creation for content marketing. This is made possible due to the development of Internet technologies, and this simultaneously contributes to the growth of technology as well – for example, the development of systems that simplify content publishing throughout various channels or manage teamwork.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

In 2015 I assumed duties in a new company, PBI, which is responsible for Internet measurement standards on the Polish market. As with any study, we deal with two different needs in terms of communicating the results: the study authors expect high precision, and receivers – an intelligible communication. My role is to bring together both of these needs. I also had to quickly assimilate certain knowledge of measuring media audiences – a media research area that concerns us. It was possible, thanks to, amongst others, Media Researchers Organisation (Porozumienie Badaczy Mediów), which we established jointly with other organisations responsible for media measurement standards in Poland. At the same time, we managed the communication related to choosing a new web audience research contractor, which in itself was a challenge – it’s a big project and a great change for the market. I was responsible for the auction’s communication, which proved to be a difficult task. First of all, the choice of a firm conducting the new study for PBI is a very important decision, affecting the whole market. Secondly, for the sake of the contest we had to communicate all the information we had, and the market expected this information to be released. And thirdly, decision-makers and finalists of the contest led their own communication policy. Making it all work was quite a challenge.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

End of the technology sceptics era – and there’s still plenty of them in the PR industry. Changes in the way we communicate force PR experts to educate themselves further and look at the communication from a wider perspective. The ability to create multimedia content, appeal to customers, master new technologies and creativity (not as a talent, but as a tool to complete tasks) – these are only a few necessary attributes of a modern PR specialist. Public relations is still the bridge in communication between companies and their customers. The channels and ways of distribution, however, have changed and now it’s up to PR experts to translate their skills into the everyday work with brands.

Amy Grimshaw Head of PR and Communications Founders Factory formally at MADE.COM

Amy Grimshaw
Head of PR and Communications Founders Factory
formally at MADE.COM

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

A huge one! Working in tech, I know the huge impact online communities can have on the growth of a brand. It’s never been more about relationships. However, whilst online communities make it easier to consult and engage audiences, it’s more important than ever that you make the effort to have face time where possible. gy has changed all that landscape, and I am its enthusiast and early adapter.

As a PR tool, I think tech also helps PROs with the age old issue ‘how to measure PR?’ – I’m thinking about SEO in particular. There are lots of great tools online to help you measure your coverage but why not check out Moz.com which will give you the page and domain authority of the site your coverage is within. If each scores over 35 you’ve reached lots of eyeballs and it’s going to have a great impact on SEO for your brand. This is far more accurate than AVE.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

I think it’s always a challenge when you’re ex-agency and used to being able to bounce ideas around with your fellow PR brained colleagues, to then going in-house where it’s just you. It’s not a negative – in fact, it can be really self affirming and you have to step up and ignore any self doubt, but I can’t emphasise the importance of having mentors enough. Trusted senior peers you can count on to share thoughts over a breakfast, or get some good old advice over a coffee, are absolutely invaluable.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Can I have two?! Both around data….

Storytelling with data. I like to try and find a story in the most unlikely of places and data is a great source of this. Your company’s data is unique to to you2 – so whatever you find you can put your own spin on it. Whilst at MADE.COM I would interrogate weekly sales data to look for any spikes and build stories around it and the media love to gain these real-time insights into emerging trends.

Also, slightly less fun, but thinking about that precious data…..every PR needs to be pushing the agenda around their client’s cyber security where relevant. If it’s not happened already, PROs need to set up cyber security working groups internally as they’re best placed to do it; they not only know the business and customer inside out, they understand the reputational risks for not getting a hold on this now. In the age of the cyber attack, crisis communications has never been so important.

Marta Smyrska PR Consultant & Content Strategist SMYRSKA PR

Marta Smyrska
PR Consultant & Content Strategist SMYRSKA PR

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

A huge role! When I started working in the field of PR in 2000, my first agency was a small manufactory with manually-operated media monitoring and invitations to conferences sent by fax (e-mail was not available yet in all newsrooms). Press releases we used to write might have been noticed by nobody, apart from a handful of journalists and editors. Technology has changed all that landscape, and I am its enthusiast and early adapter.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

A continuing challenge is to create and deliver high- quality content in a very short time, and I love all the tools that help me do this. Particularly, in 2015, when I was involved in organizing a business seminaire within the framework of the Belgian royal couple’s visit to Poland, a big challenge for me was getting messages through to some journalists. Email failed, so I tried out (successfully!) alternative communication channels, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, but these were direct meetings that worked best. A great help was also a brand journal provided by Prowly where I included all the event information and presentations of companies. Lessons learnt? Technology allows me to support journalists in their work and facilitates my role as a publisher but in the end it is Human Relations that counts!

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

I would bet on authenticity – showing real people and real emotions. I am observing massive retreat from stock photography and an increasing number of DIY wideo productions – in every sector. In the PR sector there is controlled authenticity and the focus is still on the positive side of business. This trend is an interesting opportunity for PR individuals but it requires creativity and courage to accept the fact that your authentic message can be rejected by a certain part of the audience. My claim for 2016: meaning and simplicity!

Maciej Gałecki CEO Bluerank

Maciej Gałecki
CEO Bluerank

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Using analytictal approach, which is very close to me, I would say it simplifies the process of relevant communication with individuals and measure the outcome of it. The world of all people treated in the same way and targeted with the same message ended. Now it’s time to identify, talk to and track any number of individuals separately and technology seem to be the only solution to it.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Being data driven company, it’s the everlasting question about efficiency of PR activities1. Last year, it’s also closely related to Content Marketing topics. And I am still wondering if we found good answer. Nevertheless, I believe that technology will be the only way to bring us closer to it – not the intuition and personal experience as it often used to be.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

I believe it’s the same trends that have been hot for marketing industry for some time: it’s (a) communication meant by relevant storytelling thanks to (b) personalization, not to mention – again – (c) measurement. Storytelling requires creative skills but can be effectively supported by intelligence & data which together with personalization and measurement create a great field of opportunites for technology in PR.

Marcelina Cholewińska Managing Director First PR

Marcelina Cholewińska
Managing Director
First PR

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Technology, above all, lets us realise in a fantastic way one of the basic tenets of PR – bilateral communication. Thanks to the speed of communication nowadays and the fact that it often allows us to skip the middle man, we can reach customers and get information from them directly. Technological advances also force us to be more creative in picking the forms of communication and the way content is served. Thanks to the technology we have, the process of communication is simply more interesting.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

For me the biggest challenge, not only in the last year, is the constant justification of Public Relations’ worth and why our services are highly priced. I think that many managing directors had to wrestle with that issue in 2015. In the last couple of months, lots of voices were raised in the industry on the subject of PR fees and how a huge boost in the number of PR agencies translates to reduction of prices and, unfortunately, blatantly low standards. What did it teach me? Customers who value price more than quality have a long way to go to understand the importance of communication. The PR industry should work together to make the road shorter for them.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

The trend that in my opinion will have the strongest impact on the PR industry this year will be the further mutual acquisition of skills in the various branches of communication. The need for a strong integration of communication activities has been present for a few years. Customers more often look for agencies that will provide them with strategies and solutions that go well beyond the traditional areas of Public Relations. It’s, of course, understandable, since brand image and reputation is the sum of all the actions undertaken. A similar trend is observed by the owners of advertising agencies or social media management agencies, and therefore, they increasingly incorporate PR into their own offer. In my opinion, that often leads to them conducting only media relations activities. Still, the overall direction in which all branches involved in communication are headed stays the same: trying to get the biggest share of the market.

Paweł Tomczuk Founding Partner MSLGROUP

Paweł Tomczuk
Founding Partner
MSLGROUP

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Technology helps PR to be measurable and data driven to a much bigger extent than it was possible before.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Continued fragmentation of the media industry – main outlets tend to become more and more populistic and many specialized, niche focused influential titles emerge.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Focus on credibility and authenticity of people, brands and organizations who wants to manage their reputation properly.

Krzysztof Wąsowski Senior PR Specialist Dentsu Aegis Network Poland

Krzysztof Wąsowski
Senior PR Specialist
Dentsu Aegis Network Poland

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

If I have to be honest, public relations and technology goes hand in hand. As I see our branch, PR on a big scale was almost impossible before invention of telecommunication. In fast moving world only technology can help us – PR heroes – in keeping up with the changes and in delivering interesting content, in accessible form to journalists. In one word, PR is essentially Technology.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Public Interest & Truth vs Chase for sensation.

Media reports, specifically news-worthy material can be spun, decorated and even overstated to captivate viewers, gain better ratings and psychologically intrigue anyone exposed to the story line. Our industry has a continuing pattern of challenge laid out before it of balancing truth with generating public interest. Throughout the whole world, and especially in our country (where media are perceived as are influenced by other countries), television is one of the most important source of public information. While viewers have an element of skepticism when absorbing the news, once it has been determined the truth has been modified in anyway, communications personnel loses substantial credibility that cannot be reinstated, leading to poor consumer perception for the industry as a whole. What is the learning? We have to try to better understand what are need of our target group, and show our perception of the world. At the end of the day only true, honest that will give our target group REAL VALUE will be published.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Content! Press realase will be dead. Or maybe in that classic form with topic, lead etc. will be dead. Our industry have to be honest to itself, we are spaming journalist with lame press releases. What I want to say is that form is as important as content. So if you are thinking that in 2016 sending press releases will be just effective as in 2015 you are wrong.1 We have to look for new, interesting, with wow effect ways to get attention. Video 360, Livestreaming via Periscope or maybe press conferences on Google Cardboards those technologies can help or just support us on daily basics. Key challenge is to find way to create content which will connect them in one interesting ecosystem.

Serge Vanbockryck PR & Communications Consultant SERGE VANBOCKRYCK

Serge Vanbockryck
PR & Communications Consultant
SERGE VANBOCKRYCK

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Technology, in my view, will play an ever-increasing role in PR. In the “old days” – before internet and social media and with little or no time pressure and usually just one deadline per time zone around the globe – the message was as strong as it could be “sculpted” by the PR people. Time was almost always on their side, as there were few means to spread the message. When I started, way back when, it was perfectly possible to sit on a PR exercise or message until the moment was just right to get maximum coverage. You could even contact various key media and check when would be best time to get the maximum media coverage in their media outlets. Nowadays, it’s all about speed and a lot less about content quality. The concept of an “embargo” has completely disappeared as there will always be someone somewhere who will publish ahead of the embargo just for the sake of being the first. Therefore, in my view, technology – or the use of it – will certainly evolve again towards the “quality” concept rather than “speed”. Media not allowing a more elaborate form of communication will be used less and less to actually spread a message, but will instead be used to direct target audiences to other media which do allow the “complete picture” to be sent. The “need for speed” will be reduced in favour for a bigger need for quality.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge in 2015, as in the years before, has been the ever-increasing number of hobby PR people. With the arrival of new and affordable technologies – like powerful smartphones or digital cameras – almost everybody has or can become a one-man media source, and by proxy, a one-man PR agency. Since all forms of communications are usually the first to suffer budget cut-backs in the corporate world, these hobbyists can come in and offer a similar service for a lot less money, since PR for them is usually just a second job. While big corporations will not contract these kind of people, smaller companies or projects might and probably will. Smaller and younger companies are usually more interested in “likes” and “followers”, which these hobbyists can offer, and not so much in qualitative media coverage in key media outlets, which the hobbyists, because of their lack of experience, can’t offer. By the time their clients realise that “likes” and “followers” haven’t enhanced their business model which thorough strategies and networking might have, it’s usually too late to salvage the project.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

The biggest trend, I think, will be a reduction in importance of social media in PR campaigns. The whole planet seems to be on Facebook or Twitter, which is fine, but everybody also seems to have this uncontrollable need to vent an opinion on everything and anything. Usually these opinions are intended to get noted by the user’s circle of friends and followers, and are therefore usually negative. More and more people, well-known or not, are forsaking their social media accounts for the simple reason they’re tired of all the negativity, and the “emptiness” of the messages. Corporations, in my opinion, are likely to eventually follow suit.

Michał Szapiro Managing Director Szapiro Business Advisory

Michał Szapiro
Managing Director
Szapiro Business Advisory

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Technology is a new reality today, and its growing role moves the stress from the complementary position to the mandatory. The digital channels are not only a cheaper way of interaction – they become of key importance for effective reaching of consumers, shaping of relations and meeting business objectives. There are at least three important lessons for Public Relations from that conclusion. Firstly, technology allows to easier and faster deliver what is important today – personalised services or information tailored to needs. Websites and mobile solutions will contain not only information we looked up earlier, but will also be matching time and place, where we are. The website of a clothes shop, opened at the skiing spa, will open on the section for skiers. While opening a restaurant website in the evening, we will first see the dinner dishes. Everything will be faster, simpler, made to measure. The potential is unlimited.

Secondly, technology transfers Public Relations ever closer to „hard” business. Thanks to technology and tools operated by PR, new markets can be won effectively, business models can be influenced and costs optimised. Options offered by the digital trading, allow e.g. to place retail orders directly with the producer, thus reducing the costs of products. Examples can be proliferated.

Thirdly, this is a great challenge for us – experts. If we want to keep the leader position in this area, we must continuously develop, keep pace with novelties offered by today’s technology. In this discipline it is easy to fall out of the pack.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge each year is the same: be closer, listen attentively and react faster to people’s needs, because they determine the success of each company. It is only the context that changes – there are situations each year to corroborate it. Undoubtedly, the most precious lesson last year was learned – and on this occasion also taught us all the lesson – one of the candidates for the President of Poland, who lost the seemingly won elections.

Be closer today is to be above all in the internet, and the bar is high. One way communication, mess ups and lack of authenticity is the first step to hell, since in the internet the distance between success and disgrace is very tight.

Listen more attentively for the Public Relations expert – means understanding and anticipating the needs of his audience. If our message is too detached from reality, they will start building distance and in effect resistance may grow.

React faster, means not to neglect planning. Nothing will limit our effectiveness more than bad, late or ultimately – failed-to-hit start of a campaign. Like the wrong spending of money and changed direction of activity under the pressure of a failure.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Personalisation of communication at the mass scale – is undoubtedly a new quality and a very big challenge. Let us imagine delivering various versions of the same message to millions of users, including the whole matrix of variables: location, interest, purchase track. Every recipient gets for himself something, which draws his attention. The potential is huge. Changes in the message can be minute, though it is not hard to imagine positioning or presentation of the various attributes of the brands, matched to various age groups. A good example are toys – kids desire them, but decisions are usually made by adults. It would be priceless to reach from the level of one campaign different recipients with a different message, and all this with the use of network, which allegedly guarantees anonymity.

Paulina Nasteruk-Łuczyńska Communication Specialist Ikea

Paulina Nasteruk-Łuczyńska
Communication Specialist
Ikea

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Nowadays technology is an integrated part of PR. It has significantly changed our approach to the whole communication. It enables us not only to react faster in reactive situations, secure timely and actual communication, but also to listen to and engage our stakeholders. By using different digital channels, we can effectively participate in the public dialogue and have a bigger impact through our communication.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

I would say that it was the shortage of electricity supply announced by the Polish Elecricity Services in August. It had a big impact on our business, as we had to close for one day our store in Katowice. Other IKEA stores in Poland had to limit their power usage, some of our factories and Distribution Center in Jarosty had to temporary stop working. Crucial in this situation was proactive, fast and effective communication to our co-workers and customers. This situation was unexpected for us, but most of all we have learned how important are all our investments in energy efficiency that we have done so far and plan to do in the future.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

I expect that growth of popularity and development of social media will continue. Success of Instagram and Snapchat proves that users choose channels with ephemeral information, that are valuable and interesting for them at the moment. In 2016 PR should focus on providing the relevant information to the small and well-defined target groups. We should know which social media channels will be the most effective. We need to use them to move from one-way, informative communication to communication that enables us to connect with and activate our stakeholders.

Manuel Kirstetter Growth Hacker at Rocket Lab & Anouk Mardaga UX Designer & Growth Hacker at Rocket Lab

Manuel Kirstetter
Growth Hacker
Anouk Mardaga
UX Designer &Growth Hacker at
Rocket Lab

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Automation tools like IFTTT or Zapier. Technology will help you spread your message quickly, and get the main media attention. Automation tools like IFTTT or Zapier can help to engineer triggers and actions. Reporting is really useful to identify your ambassadors. Technology now allows anyone to touch a wide portion of population without loads of money like in the past.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

We’ve been bootstrapping a lot of startup ideas we had, thus had to form teams to work with, our teams were spread so we had to use online tools to help us achieve great results, despite distance. The challenge is for everyone to get to use the tools. The outcome is that EVERYONE has to use them.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Top trend in 2016 that will have the biggest impact on PR (only one)? Globally, I’d say the american elections will have the biggest impact.

Łukasz Głombicki Online Manager NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC POLAND

Łukasz Głombicki
Online Manager
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC POLAND

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

At this point I can’t imagine good communication without technology. Public Relations, thanks to tech development, is on a completely different level. And it’s not only about how easy it is to reach customers now – it’s also about big data and data collection, knowledge to which PR experts had no access when they distributed information through fax (or mail) instead of Prowly. In conclusion, technology is now the most incredible and indispensable tool in PR, which will only grow more powerful, more widespread and more important. There’s no turning back now. The sooner PR specialists, agencies and their owners will realize that, the better.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge for me in 2015 was turning upside down the way we manage social media channels for National Geographic & National Geographic Traveler in Poland, and convincing the amazing team I work with that this change – more or less quite huge – will do us all good. This process is ongoing – in 2016 we’ll work on maximizing traffic from social media and on video development. When it comes to PR and communication (which I don’t deal with directly), the challenge was to reach the media without information. And here – as we know now – Prowly became necessary.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Social Media. More precisely, its continued development, which puts PR agencies in completely different place (when it comes to technology and results) in comparison to their younger siblings – creative & social media agencies. Nowadays, a great YouTube video does more good for a client than tens of press releases. Partnerships with Youtubers or bloggers is much more effective than breakfast releases, where the details of a new toothbrush or a smartphone are discussed. Many examples can back this up, such as Think Kong agency, which is strengthening its position on the market rapidly with a very impressive client portfolio.

Sarah Lafferty Co-founder and Director Round Earth Consulting

Sarah Lafferty
Co-founder and Director
Round Earth Consulting

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

For me, technology is indispensable for saving time, raising output and network building, but it is still no substitute for excellent spoken and written communications skills.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Our biggest challenge is that prospective clients say they want change, but when we propose the kind of change they SAY they want, they retreat back into a more familiar comfort zone. We recognise that the PR industry must change and we want to be ahead of that, but we have to be realistic about the pace of change and what clients and practitioners are willing to accept. We need to lead people towards new ways of working, but we have to balance it with pragmatism and patience!

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

I believe the accelerated pace of publishing will start to demolish entrenched, over-engineered ways of working in several PR areas including proposals, planning, media relations and reporting. The processes established 20 years ago have been stubbornly hanging on for way too long and they no longer fit into modern reality (and clients hate them). PR will start to get lean, agile, even virtual just like in the IT revolution, and the business model will be reshaped as part of this change. Lots of people will struggle to cope with this change.

Michał Górecki Blogger Nevergrowup.pl

Michał Górecki
Blogger
Nevergrowup.pl

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Technology plays a huge role in the world. In the past few years we had a chance to observe a complete change in the traditional distribution between content creators/content receivers, so obviously PR looks differently now as well – the lines between classic PR, cooperating with influencers and social media are blurred. Technology has a human face now – it’s a space where everyone is, so that’s where we communicate.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge was the sudden media attention around the t-shirt, “Worst Sort of Polish People,” and the impact it had. At one point we wanted to stop, because we couldn’t keep up with production and shipment, but on the other hand it was difficult to say no to media outlets that wanted to talk about our company for free. In addition, we wanted to be seen in a balanced way and not come across as a store targeting one political option, but simply commenting on reality – which I feel we succeeded at.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Ad blocking apps are growing stronger. Apple introduced their own solution to this, so others won’t be left behind. I hope it will be the end of the overpriced, aggressive banners and PR will take a softer approach.

Marzena Witczyńska CEO Brave Hearts

Marzena Witczyńska
CEO Brave Hearts

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Reading through what PR experts, marketers and sales specialists have to say, in every other paragraph the same information repeats itself: technology is a tool, not a solution, and its effectiveness is directly related to how are we going to use it. I think this has become the status quo already – no need to keep repeating this. Now it should be said that the constant learning, testing and using new technologies is the key for a PR specialist to stay relevant in the market. It’s difficult for all of us to keep up with the speed of innovations. Those of us who didn’t realize how important this race is will surely understand in 2016 – like event planners who banned mobile phone use, or, for example, Riot Games, who forbid players to stream themselves playing competitors’ games.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge for PR specialists, as well as ways to stay in the game, was, is and still will be the same thing: properly targeted and as extensive as possible multi-tasking of teams working for a brand/company/institution’s success. Why? We have more and more tools and channels available, our team should feel comfortable with them, and the effect on their work should be consistent in every step – communication, marketing, client service. Still, this is not the biggest challenge. Interpenetration of marketing, sales and PR – the symbiosis of these areas might impact the loss of credibility of the latter, and PR, after all, should maintain separateness, in accordance with its mission and its purpose. There is no equal sign between marketing and PR, and this fact will be increasingly harder to maintain.

Another challenge (which should not be confused with a trend) will be real time PR. For this to work, we need all that’s been mentioned before: new tools, technologies, multitasking and tracking trends, as well as softer skills – creativity, the ability to work under pressure, and courage mixed in equal proportions with common sense.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

The top trend for PR will be the partnership with content marketing, based on understanding and complementing each other. I wholeheartedly agree with Ogilvy Mather, who in The Digital Social Contract: Navigating the Rules of Our New World, said: “Community, not content, is king”.

The top trend of this top trend should be video marketing, which will be discovered in 2016 by PR specialists. A perfect example that sums up my predictions would be a Chinese video, “Under the Dome”. A documentary on the problem of air pollution that, in just three days after its premiere, had 200,000,000 views – and 41% of those were thanks to a little known in Poland communicator named WeChat.

Dariusz Chrzan Creative Director Sparc Media

Dariusz Chrzan
Creative Director
Sparc Media

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

The growth of modern technology impacts the way users consume content, which is associated with certain phenomena like:

Multiscreening – users often start an activity on one screen and finish it on the other. This strategy proves to be a challenge for PR, since the strategic answer to that is to engage users on various stages and screens.

Technology and VR – hardware (eg. beacon) and virtual reality (eg. wearables, Oculus Vr, the Internet of Things) develop very dynamically. They slowly started to change the vision of, for example, online retail and customers’ patterns of purchasing, and, as a result, marketing and brand image as well.

Real-time – development of channels that enable quick exchange of information and real-time reaction has a growing impact on brand image and communication. Social media, such as Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat and Instagram have been explored by brands more and more often. Thanks to that, customers can contribute to the brand image and the engagement level of target groups is higher than ever. Apps/social media (eg. Periscope) make each one of us a some sort of information channel, with real time broadcasting (matches, demonstrations, exhibitions, etc.). It will be a tough task for PR experts to predict how customers will act on media outlets like these.

Personalised content – technologies based on users’ declarative data already exist, which affects the perspective of modern brand communication. We expect to see the market entry of such technologies soon in Poland.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

Job change and the transition to Sparc Media. In my previous company (SoInteractive), being a co-creator of gamification systems showed me how to build engagement and communication, and how we can control gamer/customer’s actions to achieve our goals based on user data. Now the challenge is the use of user data to its full capacity, as well as the role of online advertising in larger online strategy campaigns.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

In 2015 we saw the expansion of VR and the Internet of Things, with brands slowly starting to take advantage of that, but in 2016, the trend will be more widely spread in PR and marketing. This entails personalised content, because brands have more data to use. Strategic communication connected with analysis and data segregation plus multiscreening – that’s the combo I predict to be a trend in 2016, provided that companies learn how to properly generate, analyse, select and use data.

Marta Marczuk-Komiszke Board Member wzmacniacz.org

Marta Marczuk-Komiszke
Board Member
wzmacniacz.org

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

Modern technology is still, in my opinion, underestimated in the PR industry. We talk, write about and discuss this a lot, but if you ask PR specialists which one of them has an active account on a social media outlet other than Facebook, or uses a different app than Outlook – they fall silent. I hope that the speed of technology’s growth will force them to change their behaviour.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

My biggest challenge was (and still is) measuring the effectiveness of PR activities, especially when connected to CSR. It’s still difficult to pick indicators that will show “something more” and go beyond numbers and digits. How to measure brand image change? Which tools to pick? How to check if our actions (for example, social awareness campaign) made any real impact? In my opinion, the most important thing is our attitude and motivation. We should all answer this question: do you care enough to find out more, or are you fine with the number of publications and ROI? If we properly approach this challenge, the tools turn out to be less of a concern.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

Video – not only as a tool for statement building, but also as a way to develop a different approach to, for example, press conferences, events coverage, etc. I think there’s a huge challenge awaiting corporations and big companies, who will be forced to think of a more interesting video solutions than the “talking heads” of bosses and CEOs. Lots of new tools (Snapchat, Periscope) have their own specifics of freedom and being natural in communicating. It is – despite appearances – an extremely difficult challenge for many companies.

Marcin Rutkowski Public Relations Manager i-Systems.pl Project Coordinator Młody PR

Marcin Rutkowski
Public Relations Manager
i-Systems.pl
Project Coordinator
Młody PR

What role does technology play in Public Relations?

The decisions we make are based on a strategy and our vision, but also backed up by specific data. This is why modern technology will support PR specialists mainly in terms of analysis.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face in 2015 and what you have learned from it?

The biggest challenge was (and is) the rapid changes in PR and eCommerce industries. It forces us to approach work and responsibilities in a completely different way. Communication experts must skillfully meet this challenge. Even Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson discussed this in their famous book, “Rework”. Therefore, since the middle of the year, the whole PR & marketing team works on the basis of scrum methodology.

What trend will have the biggest impact on PR in 2016?

We have the possibility to communicate through many channels. Communication with employees goes through internal channels, and with customers, external. The number of channels is increasing steadily. The biggest trend in PR in 2016 will be the return to the Ten Commandments of PR, ensuring the consistency of communication.

Discover more trends to follow in 2017

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