Trends That Will Shape Comms In 2017
Predicting the future is not an easy task, but it’s that time of year where we all feel like we should at least have a stab at it. And we do – with every new year comes a landslide of predictions and trends to guide us into the new year. BTW: “While the year advances, rarely do such transformative trends or changes take place in alignment with a calendar. Not even Y2K could do so” – Brian Solis wrote a year ago entering his list of 25 Disruptive Technology Trends For 2015 – 2016. How is it with you, guys? ;) Anyway, a year ago we asked some communications experts about the biggest challenges they faced and the top trends that PR pros should be incorporating into their own strategies in 2016 (check their answers here). And guess what – we are doing it again. Why? First of all – because we want to say “check.”
Secondly – we truly believe that if communications leaders feel these trends will impact your business, then you should know them before planning your budget.
Who we asked about trends to follow in 2017?
- Jeremi Jak, jeremijak.com
- Sabine Raabe, Biscuit Public Relations
- Tom Górski, Saas Genius & InboundWay
- Alex Tachalova, DigitalOlympus.net
- Anna Przybysz, Takaoto.pro
- Sam Hurley, OPTIM-EYEZ
- Tim Harrison,
- Anastasia Isakova,
- Judy Gombita, PRConversations, (excerpt includes a link to a longer response)
- Sabrina Browne,
- Eugene Lata, Serpstat
- Dave Manzer, Manzer Communications
- Karolina Piwiec, Brand24
- Alicja Chlebna, NaturalBox
- Victoria K. Borges
- Claire Walker, Firefly Communications
- Anna Lebedeva, SemRush
- Clare Lane, PR Daily
- Agnieszka Walczak-Skałecka, agnieszkaskalecka.com
- Beki Winchel, PR Daily
- Andrzej Gruszka, Mind Progress Group
- Łukasz Majewski, VML Poland
Personalization, H2H and being honest – people hate companies that are superficial and reserved.
And I personally fully understand that. That’s why I connect these three trends: personalization (using big data and cloud), human-to-human communication and being honest. It means to me that companies can show emotions in an honest way because the author of the company’s message is also a human, and they will do it knowing their customer (big data).
Talking with my clients, some of which are big corporate companies, I see a wind of change – they start to take the emotions connected with the story we tell, over the product itself. Because let’s be honest – using Prowly is not only helping me, it’s also super cool :)
As another example: establishing successful customer service over Facebook is now easier than ever. You can connect it with professional client service tools and even automatize it based on the data collected about the customers on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). I mean, let’s use it and become friends. It can do only good for you and your company.
You asked me only about one trend, and I already gave you three, but let me just say that if you’d asked me for the second big one – it’s, of course, mentioned in the previous paragraph: automation.
A 2016 trend that ended up a bust and that which surprisingly turned out well:
Content marketing – 2016 definitely belongs to good content. It was finally understood by both agencies and clients. I remember interviews with clients who talked only about the medium, while the content itself was somehow missed. 2016 brought us to a point where we got the message that distribution is important, but the content itself is just as important.
I personally connect this trend with sending some value or idea that the company believes in. A good example is a commercial by Bodyform which completely re-imagined the industry of women’s products. The company showed two things: a creative approach to the subject that we’re usually shy or bored about, and also – they told women that their period is only a reason to keep going (to show everybody that against all adversities we’re still strong).
Perfect content, maybe distribution could be better, but it went viral anyway.
Principal Biscuit Public Relations,
Two trends for PR and communications professionals to incorporate in their strategies for 2017:
The single most significant trend and opportunity for PR and communications professionals, in my opinion, is the digital transformation of our industry. PR managers are becoming content managers and marketing departments rely heavily on our ability to connect them with their target audiences.
Public relations does what it says on the tin – we build relationships. Although relationships with the media have always been an important part of our work, PR now has a much stronger position in building relationships directly with the public and consumers.
Channels such as Twitter, Facebook and company blogs offer brands the opportunity to directly foster and develop these relationships. They also open up new venues for maintaining relationships with the media. The tools might include Google analytics, search engines, social search, and a quality media database with up-to-date profiles for journalists and bloggers.
Today’s public relations professionals play a direct role in driving leads into the marketing funnel through thought-leadership content.
To be part of the marketing machine that connects clearly to revenue, public relations is becoming more data driven and needs to demonstrate bottom-line impact. It’s not enough to measure impressions, you have to be able to track leads coming through your calls to action and follow them through the buyer’s journey.
Digital media means the world now functions in — and expects your organization to function in — real time. This can be a very positive thing when it comes to engaging influencers and customers and adjusting tactics as needed during a campaign. However, it also has a negative side.
Situations don’t wait to escalate during normal business hours and they don’t have designated channels. Doing business today demands that someone is always available to deal with things that have the potential to escalate and become problematic. A crisis can crop up quickly and spiral out of control even quicker via real-time channels like Twitter. Effective online reputation management is key to any organization’s PR and communications strategy in the digital and connected world we live in today.
Tom Górski, Inbound #Marketing & #SaaS Growth Hacker –
Founder & CEO Saas Genius & InboundWay, @TomGorski
One of the dominant trends in marketing communications in 2016 is developing strategies to promote content and generally, increasing the importance of content promotion. The previous years were dominated by trends in the area of creating high-quality content. The successes of online businesses using high-quality content as the main marketing tool, contributed to the popularization of this trend and more companies decided to invest in content marketing activities. At the end of 2015, however, the first research and analyses appeared, indicating that the creation of high-quality content is becoming less effective. This year along with 2017, in my opinion, will see a continuation of the trend of creating dedicated promotion strategies and an increase in the promotion budget, especially based on paid activities.
Alex Tachalova, Digital Marketing Consultant & Founder of DigitalOlympus.net.
Huge fan of data-driven content marketing campaigns, @AlexTachalova
Without a doubt, social media is among the top channels when it comes to ensuring that your messages are reaching the right audience. Also, I’ve noticed that sponsored articles have recently started to become more popular, because they allow for growth of a brand’s presence as well as the targeting of broader audiences through a high-authority resource with millions of readers. However, if you truly want to make your brand’s message strong, a solid web presence is crucial. Without it, and without an integrated approach involving the use of search and email marketing channels, it’s difficult to engage users.
Given the industry in which I work, I am pleased that marketing agencies and public relations finally turned to mature, well-thought-out content marketing. Content marketing supported by analyses, tailored to the needs and customers, including proper distribution channels, is a trend that has been present in the West for quite some time now. In Poland, we are quickly catching up though, and we have finally started planning our communication with the help of analytics and monitoring.
I am personally very interested in the growing popularity of real-time marketing. Real-time marketing reminds me of the game of ping-pong where it’s reaction time, quickness and cunning that count. It’s worth remembering the great example of Solgazu which “won the internet,” comparing a new oven to an iPhone 7. Seems like nothing special, but this simple infographic was shared 1.5 thousand times on Facebook alone, not to mention all the publications on this subject. The comments it received were also clearly positive. Here is one:
“Your marketer talked me into familiarizing myself with your offer, and I’ve never heard about you. Your target audience probably just increased by 60 percent. Well done! Bravo to the marketing team!”
This dynamic nature of communication is a big challenge for brands and people involved in public relations, but that’s the role we play. We have to be where our potential customers are and speak the same language.
The third trend in communication in 2016 which I’ve observed is the evolution of the press release in the direction of visual storytelling.
The press release becomes more social, with a large emphasis on a personal approach to communication. Today’s press releases attract attention, not only by the wealth of infographics and visual effects but also because they’re created for a particular audience. It’s nice that there are tools such as Prowly that enable creative, personalized mailing.
It is hard not to agree with a video marketing evangelist Magdalena Daniłoś when she claims that it is video that will dominate communication. I think 2017 will evolve towards video communication. A 30-second film is capable of delivering the same content as a three-page text. You can do all the things previously associated with text: increase brand recognition and influence engagement, form relations and communicate brand’s values. Perhaps 2017 will be the year when PR pros will send out press releases in the form of video messages. Emails containing video material are much more willingly read (by exactly 40%) and forwarded.
With a great deal of sympathy and approval, I follow what Natalia Hatalska is doing. She formed a real 21st-century institute – the Infuture hatalska foresight institute which defines the most important trends and describes their consequences for the economy, market sectors, or specific brands. Her studies and reports have a big impact on communication. I think that again, the conclusions of her institute will directly influence communication trends.
The last leading trend in communications that I predict for AD 2017 is associated with the person of Julia Izmałkowa. Her research based on psychology, ethnography and psychology is nothing more than human to human communication, which I deeply believe in. Ubiquitous technology, social media, chats, VR, AI, etc. will never replace human contact, which is, was and will be the basis of communication. At least, I hope so :)
Sam Hurley, a lateral-thinking digital marketer holding 6+ years’ self-expedited experience
in both agency and client-side settings before launching his own digital consultancy venture: OPTIM-EYEZ, @Sam___Hurley
- Storytelling is, without a doubt, the king of emotional attraction and consequently, connection – magnetizing brands do it, and they do so very well. That’s the concept.
- Virtual and augmented reality, 360 video and dynamic video are the new kids on the block and taking the world by storm – brands looking to maintain their current audiences’ excitement while drawing in millennial and Gen-Z audiences need to hop on this technological boat and be consistent across multiple devices. That’s the vehicle.
- Marketing automation and complete personalization are the key to truly knowing your customer. They want memorable experiences. That’s conversion.
Live and immediate’ is expected from brands – customer service, marketing and delivery need to be instant. That’s the reality.
I’m personally going to be introducing a combination of the majority of the above next year to focus on my story and the ‘human’ element, using video and personalization to really get on the ground-level with my audiences.
Tim Harrison, Award-winning comms guy. Strategist, Mentor, Coach, @timbharrison
Alongside new and discrete ‘trends,’ I think there is an important paradigm that will continue to build momentum in 2017. The first you know!
The importance of emotion, authenticity/purpose and compelling storytelling are becoming increasingly recognized as core to the modern communicator. They are also intrinsically linked. This is not new. This is a truth that has been around forever. But I think it got lost for many of us. A compelling story, rooted in purpose and told with emotion and authenticity can have incredible power.
During 2017, the effects of this will feed more heavily into both external communications and – particularly – into employee engagement. It’s easy to get carried away with the ‘post-truth era’ narrative. But as professional communicators, we must see it as a wake-up call. It raises many ethical challenges while also shining a light on which messages get cut-through and inspire passion among a media-saturated, cynical audience. There is a reaction against corporatism – going beyond Gen Z – which will continue to feed into the way we talk about brands.
On a more tactical level, we should also not forget platforms. Many trends – both positive and less so – will be driven by the technological competition among the platform owners. These are hard to predict but change is inevitable. And things are getting hotter.
As communicators, Twitter’s future is – in part – our future. Where will we be a year into Microsoft’s LinkedIn? How will Snap’s innovation roadmap evolve post-IPO? How will Facebook address its publishing problem and properly take on Google, Amazon and the rest in the bot wars? Over the next 12 months, there will be strategic decisions made in all these companies that will inevitably affect the tactical engagement palette we can draw upon over the next few years.
Anastasia Isakova, Former Head of Management at Digital Olympus, @aaisakova
I would definitely follow the new visual storytelling trends. I’m quite interested in how brands will implement Instagram Stories or Twitter videos into their online marketing strategies. On the whole, I believe the popularity of social media will continue in 2017, and that can bring us a new ‘wow-effect way’ to bring attention.
Moreover, I’ll definitely follow all of the trends in mobile marketing. 2016 was a Pokemon year, so who knows what 2017 will bring us? Everyone knows that optimizing a website and/or content for mobile has already become essential, but I believe that mobile could even become a #1 priority in 2017.
Judy Gombita, Canadian contributor and co-content editor to the global, collaborative blog, PRConversations, @
- In light of what has gone on throughout 2016, I believe we will witness a lot of self-correction in 2017, with the recognition of a need to operate within the world, rather than a bubble of self-contained commerce – or else be judged as shirking responsibility and lacking a moral authority, also known as a licence to operate. (In a recent article by Robert Phillips, Post Truth, Post Trust, Post PR: The crisis of trust is a crisis of leadership, he calls it “public leadership” and “public value”- which fits in nicely with the “reputation, value and relationship building” remit of organizational public relations.)
- In 2017 I think corporations will need to admit and recognize that profits to shareholders aren’t everything, particularly when decisions are made to increase profits that result in a hit to reputations (especially in regards to questionable or even unethical business decisions) where a variety of known and unknown stakeholders—and governments and regulators—weigh in. Your organization’s reputation (and trust from a variety of stakeholders) is where the real gold lies. Many companies will have to work hard in 2017 to “un-do” actions taken in 2016 and earlier and attempt to regain trust.
Sabrina Browne, Public Relations Professional and Brand Strategist, @sabrinabrowne_
The PR landscape is ever evolving and with it, so should the work we create, deliver and execute for our clients. In 2017, we can expect to see more trends around visual and cutting-edge content that delivers the message and rises above the noise. We can also expect to see hyper spotted images, which gamify our news, increase message adoption and content interaction. News capsules and picture capsules may also make a splash, as we look to make our content more interactive and engaging to audiences. Lastly, video releases. Consumers today would much rather watch a video then read a press release. Leveraging video and live stream tools such as Facebook Live and Periscope will help brands continue to connect, reach and engage audiences in 2017.
I believe that for the next year, and probably another one after, simple content that we’re all used to will be the way to go. If we’re talking about getting the results – blog posts, social media and videos are still unmatched.
Another important part, is letting our customers speak. We have a 24/7 live chat support to solve the problems. We allow guest posts on our blog, in case someone wants to share a success story or a great way to use our product.
In short, we’re focusing on old-school content for now.
As for new trends, there are some that promise to be great in the future and it makes sense to join early on, but I don’t see how content for VR can be more efficient that writing good article at the moment.
Dave Manzer, PR & digital marketing expert at Manzer Communications,
spinning stories for #tech, #startups, #B2B. #PR#CorpComm #contentmarketing, @DaveManzer
Technology is and stays the number one driver for PR’s relevance in the era of digital media. A couple of trends that will be worth watching include live streaming and AR/VR. Live streaming provides yet another way for brands to communicate with customers and other key stakeholders. Live streaming, however, comes with the added benefit of ratcheting up the level of engagement as only live events can. Live streaming can also be packaged up and stored as a brand asset to be used whenever needed.
As for augmented reality, the success of PokemonGo took the world by storm. It also left brands – from global consumer product goods companies to small town coffee shops – scrambling to figure out how to embed their offers inside the popular AR game. The next stage in AR’s evolution is how companies can create their own branded AR experience either through proprietary games or as organic embeds in future AR games — like a virtual Coke that is won through battle and gives a character extra life points after drinking it.
VR is still struggling to gain traction in part because the technology was not ready for prime time.
Now, with the technology better and prices of headsets coming down, VR is poised for rapid growth. Many companies are looking for ways to use VR technology for a branded experience that is novel, not just for being one of the first to use VR but also as a way to truly enhance the customer / stakeholder experience. Product announcements for a new car might soon come with a VR release in hopes of giving customers and media alike an immersive experience to better comprehend the new features and whip up excitement.
Not to be forgotten are the new tech-forward tools on the market that make the lives of professional communicators so much easier. It’s now easier than ever to deploy integrated communications campaigns across multiple platforms, engage with target audiences and pull reports to help figure out what worked well and what could use improving. Without tools like these our value as communicators would be even harder to justify in the world of metrics-driven marketing and PR.
Karolina Piwiec, Content Jedi, Brand24, @KarolinaPiwiec
I believe that data-driven marketing is by far the most important 2017 marketing trend, and I am excited to see it become so powerful. Thanks to the plethora of analytical tools available on the market, you can now evaluate the effectiveness of many activities your company is engaging in, such as influencer marketing or your presence on a given social media channel.
Data-driven marketing allows you to estimate social ROI, which is extremely important because it lets you decide which of the things you’re doing should stay for good and which ones you should ditch.
As an example, 75% of Brand24 customers visit our marketplace profiles (such as GetApp and G2 Crowd) before they make a purchase decision, and although many of these conversions are not direct, knowing these stats allows you to make a data-driven decision about how much money, time, and effort you should be allocating to these profiles and campaigns promoting them.
Data-driven marketing is also highly efficient in influencer marketing activities – you don’t need to guess who you should be teaming up with, but you should look at metrics such as Influence or Share of Voice.
You can also incorporate this approach by adding a dedicated hashtag to an influencer marketing campaign you’re launching and tracking that hashtag. This lets you estimate the exact effect of this particular campaign and improve things as you go.
Data-driven marketing is here to stay and that’s great news. The best thing you can do now is look for tools which are going to give you a better understanding of your customers and prospective customers. Remember that because customer journey is getting longer and more complicated, you need to look at all the steps your users are taking. Good luck!
Alicja Chlebna, Naturalbox & Veganbox Ecoliving Int. AB, @AlicjaChlebna
Brand building understood as content marketing and PR is not enough. Creating an awesome and smart Instagram account is neither. You need to build your audience and create a community where everyone feels equal. You need to engage your customers in your business, so they can feel a part of the team. One way to do that – in the Naturalbox case: YouTube – engage your customers by making videos of unboxing the delivery you got. Share your thoughts on what you liked and what you didn’t with us. People love to feel important and to take part in something new, hot and exciting.
Make everyone feel like they have a direct impact on what you are doing, and your customers will be the best ambassadors for your brand ever! Engage your customers by letting them make selfies with or in your product, short videos, snap chats – whatever tool they feel like using (don’t let them forget about the hashtag and sharing their work. The best part is yet to come – use those photos from your fans/customers on the website of your webshop as a product photo and the conversion on your site will increase wildly. There is nothing more emotional than watching your customers wearing your clothes or holding your subscription box.
Look at our company: (Naturalbox & Veganbox Ecoliving Int. AB) Our community monthly receives a box with news on health, natural beauty and fitness products. Moreover, they receive exclusive invitations from our suppliers, access to health and fitness events, knowledge, recipes, and inspiration about raw food, organic and plant based living – everything in the area that is interesting for them. Everything of much higher value than the price they pay. That’s in the area of creating value for our customers. To us at Ecoliving & Naturalbox – the products and service do not create the highest value anymore. Ecoliving is a lifestyle, it’s a thought on your mind that you are waking up to everyday. You want to be better, happier, smarter, healthier and live in harmony with your loved ones and the world. Over 60 of our new investors from Funded By Me became not only investors but most of all, they became a part of a wider community that can leave an impact by adding the competences they are the best in to our business. All of them are interested in the niche of organic, healthy and plant based living. Btw, I think that the crowdfunding concept is a brilliant way of communication to the world, isn’t it?
Victoria K. Borges, Founder | PR Strategist, creative storyteller, @fresiamind
This has been the year of connectivity. Wi-fi can be found wherever, whenever. Google Fiber is rolling out across the U.S., hotspot locations are ever present and now even automobiles are offering free wi-fi. Also, take into account the introduction of VR and artificial intelligence, as well as other devices, such as Oculus Rift, Pokemon Go, Nintendo’s new mobile console – even Apple is already talking about how artificial intelligence is in the near future. These things are bringing connectivity to life in the “built environment.” As technology becomes interconnected and transcends into the physical world, communications must also follow suit. Communications will no longer be words that tell stories, but rather a connected experience of what an audience reads, sees, hears, tastes and smells.
- A multi-cultural, global approach
Western countries are increasingly more globalized now than even two years ago. This, coupled with an ever-changing global economy, means that audiences which traditionally represented a company’s stakeholders are constantly changing. They have different interests, expectations and preferences. The way they consume messages and where they consume messages are also changing. To keep up with these changes and reach this new kind of buyer, brands will incorporate a multi-cultural, global communications approach, from the time of day/month/year, to content and topic relevancy, leveraging different communications channels and incorporating different comms messages.
- “Unedited” communications
With Snapchat on the rise and live video hosting on Facebook, we’re seeing raw, unedited communication taking place and users are eating it up. As in 2016, consumers will still want to engage with people, not brands, but we’ll start to see executives and thought leaders draw the curtain and incorporate live video, in-the-moment photos and posts.
In 2017, the Google search zoo will be more than just pandas and penguins – and if all this animal talk sounds unfamiliar to you, then you need to better understand where PR meets SEO. Meanwhile, quality content will continue to reign.
Google will keep us on our toes with improved algorithms for more relevant search results. Click-bait and poorly written articles will not just undermine your PR and SEO, they will be a liability as Google will punish your site and therefore compromise your reputation, for being associated with such content!
In 2017, brands and companies will rely more on the comms professionals who understand the nuances of brand messaging, audience preferences, local trends and interests. This expertise will create relevant, interesting and valuable content to increase dwell time on websites, improving reputations and pushing brands up the search rankings.
Anna Lebedeva, Public Relations Manager at SemRush, @DigitalAnya
- Content trend
One of the most important trends to recognize in content marketing is the new need for better balance between content creation and content promotion. There has been a significant shift in the marketing budget allocation. More money is now being spent on content promotion than on creation. In a nutshell: promotional quality over content quantity. If your content is not getting in front of the correct audience, why spend time creating it?
- PR trend
The days of massive press-release send outs and one-way corporate messages being forced upon an audience are long gone. Your traditional PR pitch should now become a contributor pitch, with ready-to-publish facts which are extremely useful for journalistic purposes. This pitch should also raise topics that provoke further discussion, comments, and shares. Nobody is going to publish a post or use a pitch unless they know it will engage their target audience and have a high likelihood of bringing significant traffic to their website. Put yourself in a media editor’s shoes and you will see how traffic, shares, views, time spent on sites and other metrics are important and directly influence advertising budgets.
- Marketing trend
One of the major marketing topics this year was influence marketing. It is highly likely that this trend will become even more important in 2017. More and more companies will start discovering that their traditional PR and content marketing techniques won’t be as effective without well-established relationships with industry influencers. By marketing via influencers, you avoid scepticism that is heavily associated with standard marketing efforts. The ideas expressed by well-known experts through social media posts are considered to be much more trustworthy by their audiences. In addition, through influence marketing, your reach is much more broad and this opens up access to a whole new range of audiences. If interested, you can read more about influence marketing in my post for Foundr Mag.
Clare Lane, Co-editor, PR Daily, @clareifying
Snapchat’s rise in popularity among marketers is a trend for all PR pros to watch. Although there is an emphasis that many strategies are placing on social media as a whole, Snapchat has emerged as a leader among platforms.
Here are two reasons why:
- Geotagging. This feature isn’t unique to Snapchat, but the way Snapchat executives have marketed the feature brand managers makes it increasingly valuable. Filters are trending (especially among millennials), and Snapchat knows that. To increase its reach and present itself as a must-have tool for social media managers, Snapchat’s filters are becoming easier and easier to make. They’re inexpensive, they’re on-brand with Snapchat’s identity and they’re unique to a specific location (which makes it desirable for promotions and temporary marketing efforts).
- The cool factor. Snapchat has been deemed “cool” but millennials and young consumers. As these younger groups are becoming more and more of a prize for brands, managers are continually looking to engage with them. As Snapchat has grown, it’s still managed to keep up with its cool identity. It’s primary demographic continues to be young. As long as that’s working in its favor, brand managers should work to assert their dominance there and offer authentic campaigns.
Agnieszka Walczak-Skałecka, agnieszkaskalecka.com, @
- Marketing or PR? It’s just communication
Labelling in these areas ceases to have any meaning. Marketers and PR people often use the same tools (and if not, they definitely should), and increasingly more often have similar goals. What matters is the effectiveness of communication activities.
- Hard data and proof
Studying the effectiveness of communication activities is an everyday thing for big brands. But what changes the image of the Polish market is raising the awareness of micro, small and medium companies in the field of testing, evaluating and correcting their own activities in this area based on data.
- Technology, technology and video
New platforms, new tools and new formats. Brands forced to abandon the comfort zone test. Video conquers the online world and there are indications that this trend will continue – from live streaming through micro-video, to complex channels with materials of the highest quality. Throw VR in there, and we can almost touch the world the brands want to introduce us to.
- Influencer marketing
The role of influencers is rising in brand communication activities. Also, marketing spending on such projects is growing. Effective action in this field requires mutual research of opportunities and needs of brands, content creators and the audiences of both groups. What’s also needed is the awareness of all the content creators of their current and potential role in society and, consequently, the responsibility for their own work and its results. In light of the recent heated discussions – I think we are moving in the right and a very interesting direction.
- First and foremost – people
Paradoxically, in the battle for the reach, the specific person on the other side matters. If the brand is able to touch their emotions, it has a chance for a longer relationship. This course seems to be stable. Whether we consider PR, marketing, sales or customer service – brands communicate (or will) with audiences in their natural environments, because it’s the people that count above all.
These are also great opportunities for brands that have not yet taken into account the potential that lies dormant in their own employees – the best or worst brand ambassadors.
- Customer experience
Communication of 2017 is much more than just talking to the audience – it is providing it with an experience. It is a thought-through designing of pathways and interactions that provide the ability to communicate with the viewer on many levels.
Beki Winchel, Co-editor, PR Daily, @
- Live video: Live-streaming and live video will continue to grow, especially with the increasing popularity of messaging apps (social networks are embracing the feature, too). It will be crucial for brand managers to not become “talking heads” or try too hard for the perfect “viral” moment. Consumers want to experience places, products and services through real-life moments
- Virtual reality: Many PR and marketing pros will be hesitant to jump on the bandwagon at first, either due to budget constraints or because they’re waiting for the trend to be proven, but for brand managers looking to persuade consumers to act by evoking emotions through experiences, VR is going to be a huge opportunity. It’ll be especially neat to see what those in the social entrepreneur and nonprofit industries do with the technology.
- Content creation: Crafting content that your audience cares about and successfully sharing it to a wide viewership will continue to be important, but brand managers should be aware that consumers can easily get “content fatigue.” Images, articles, infographics and videos that try too hard to be clever, don’t contain valuable information or takeaways and aren’t well written/built can decrease loyalty and trust.
- Influencer marketing: With the continued emphasis on content, brand managers must find online tastemakers to show their followers the crafted content is worth reading and/or viewing. Many brand managers are becoming more savvy with potential brand advocates, and realize that numbers don’t mean everything. It’s important to partner with consumers that can align with your brand’s voice–and have an interested and engaged following. As more and more content crowds the marketplace, these “curators” become even more important.
Andrzej Gruszka, Content Marketing Manager, Mind Progress Group, @
I tend to be careful in forecasting trends for next year. I do not have a patent on a crystal ball so my predictions are based mainly on the solutions announced for this year, which for various reasons have not developed as much as it was claimed, but their potential is huge and has been repeatedly tested in 2016.
Today, brands must effectively meet the specific expectations and needs of the customer here and now, reach out to them through a variety of timely messages, and build lasting relationships. We’re seeing an era of proactivity, of being pro-consumer, an era of values and of a committed dialogue with customers, also with the help of modern technologies. Hence, I call attention to several trends which in my opinion will dominate the communication with customers.
- An even greater emphasis on the quality of customer service
It’s the customer experience with the brand that determines the further contact with its products or services. Customer service becomes the heart of the whole system associated with communication. Especially in the trans-media world. This area of marketing (yes, I said it right) in previous years was grossly underestimated. Today, for many, it has become the philosophy of action. That’s why, next year, being customer-oriented will be one of the key elements in the activities of many companies which will determine their successes or failures.
- Personalization is becoming a priority
Companies like to tell how personalization is so important to them in communication. However, only a small percentage of companies does very well with the use of this element in their activities. People more and more want personalized experiences. For two reasons: the constantly growing information noise and the desire for a sense of control and to stand out from the crowd. And since there is just too much content, customers want the feeling that someone tried to match something to them
- Even more of better video
This format is growing in strength year in and year out. And it is in different forms. Given the success of this year’s game Pokemon Go, solutions based on virtual reality will be in my opinion most often applied. Mainly due to the possibilities of interactions they bring. Of course, brands will continue to use the proven and continuously developed benefits of video available on the Web and social media, including primarily the solutions related to 360° videos. There’s no denying that 2017 will certainly belong to the broad concept of video marketing.
- Influencer marketing
Always present, with great potential, but its strength was not widely known. Last year showed that in this area of communication, brands should seek benefits in the next 12 months. Because brands are not only increasingly more convinced of cooperation with opinion leaders. What’s more, they give them the freedom to create content for their engaged communities. As a result, we can see interesting projects created by influencers in cooperation with brands. In the coming year, we can expect a significant growth in this area.
My forecasts are generally in line with the results of the Marketing Progress report: the new role of marketing. However, according to respondents, the greatest impact on communication in the near future will have 3D printing (59% of responses), so you may want to watch the actions of marketers in this area as well.
Łukasz Majewski, PR & Marketing Manager, VLM Poland, @MajewskiLukasz
Continuous change is something that accompanies all PR-pros every day. New communication channels with a message, new tools of communication, dialogue 356 days – not degrees, trends, technology, moving away from brand-centric thinking toward people-centric, blurring the boundaries between PR and marketing (I, more often, use the term “communication” rather than “PR”), big data, etc.
Every year, the PR industry adapts to the changing market and the changing world of consumers. Increasingly more, campaigns demonstrate the growing role of experience and usability as values for the consumer and the bridge between the brand and its audience.
A modern PR person becomes a multi-purpose “machine” whose scope of responsibilities and necessary skills expands, not from year to year, but from day to day.
Another thing that changes is the way PR professionals work today. We can already see considerable flexibility in the work style and in creating teams dedicated to specific projects or clients. What matters, after all, is what the team does and not where it does its work. The crucial thing is that the team completes the project on time, and not that each of its members sits behind the desk eight hours a day. The 9 to 5 workday slowly ceases to be the norm and in the era of social media, it has no reason to exist at all. These are the changes to which most of us have already gotten used to. The new generation of employees makes companies begin modifying their policies to try to adjust the work environment to the changing expectations of these new workers.
On the other hand, in a creative industry like PR, the best ideas are often the result of teamwork happening here and now. This will be a challenge to scattered mobile teams. In addition, such a team will need a strong leader to coordinate the whole process.