PR and Marketing: The Skills Experts Wish to Succeed in 2019

Trends 2019—is there anything to worry about? I’m pretty sure you’ve already read a bunch of texts on this topic (BTW: I listed the most interesting ones at the end of this piece). Julia Izmalkowa, the only Pole to speak at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, has put it bluntly: “Fuck trends.” And we’re high-fiving those experts who are saying, “Know trends and then decide.” Most of all, however, we focus on the skills that drive us forward and help us put our job, industry, and life in perspective and look at them with a mature eye, without the fear that your say in the debate will someday be no longer relevant. And this is my wish for you for 2019! It is my undisguised pleasure to share with you all those comments from:

How about you? Which skills do you wish to succeed in 2019? [read here last edition of this topic: PR and Marketing Cannot Stand Stagnation. Focus on Developing New Skills!]

Brandon Andersen, Chief Strategist at Ceralytics@andersenology

Brandon Andersen

Here’s the skill I’d like to focus on in 2019: compassion. For others and myself.

Ever sigh in exasperation because someone made a decision you didn’t agree with, and you can’t believe they did it? We get client projects all the time where we do an audit of a company’s website and content strategy to find that the people running the ship before us seemed to have no idea what they were doing. Those people who are no longer there become easy marks for blame.

However, it’s entirely unfair to those people before who may have been trying their best. They just didn’t have the knowledge or experience to know the better ways to do things. And does cutting down other people really make us look better? Probably not.

My goal in 2019 is compassion. But it doesn’t stop at just compassion for others. It includes compassion for myself and my own mistakes.

As a co-founder of a company, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make all of the right choices and to catch mistakes early. However, like all of us, I sometimes find myself wincing at decisions I made that didn’t turn out. I think about them…a lot. But all of that time and energy spent dwelling on those past decisions doesn’t help anything in the future—other than simply learning from it and moving on.

Compassion seems to be something that we could all use more of, and it impacts every aspect of our lives. So it’s my #1 skill for 2019.

Michelle Garrett, writer and PR expert, Garrett Public Relations, @PRisUs

Michelle Garrett

In 2019, I’m hoping to follow some advice from Christopher Penn (@cspenn) of Trust Insights to learn more about AI and how it will impact the PR profession. I want to dig in to better understand how machine learning impacts various aspects of public relations, like influencer marketing, media relations, social listening, and more.

While some vendors claim to be incorporating AI into their products, we need to be asking the right questions to determine if it truly is AI. Penn suggests taking a class to get better acquainted with the quantitative side of PR. This will help prepare us for the future.

Marialetizia Mele, an experienced journalist for media and brands, founder of Your Brand Journalist, @mletiziamele

Maria Letizia Mele

In 2019, I would like to learn how to better use data for more effective brand storytelling. I am a journalist and my job is finding out news and telling them, or sometimes even working for brands. I have always done this with words and I will keep on writing, of course; but numbers fascinate me as well and we all know how powerful they can be to tell a great story.

Therefore, next year I would like to explore how to better find, collect, and understand data, in order to be able to visualize them through infographics. I believe this can be a valuable skill for a communication professional: being able to find out a story inside the numbers and to tell it both in words and visuals.

As far as I am concerned, writing skills will always be a must for a brand journalist as I am, but I also think meaningful and appealing infographics will become more and more relevant for high-quality content.

Carla Johnson, Keynote Speaker, Author, Storyteller, @carlajohnson

Carla Johnson

I work with brands and teams on how to rethink the work that they do and the impact they can have in a company. One of the things that I’d like to improve as I look at 2019 is the way people bring new ideas to an organization. This is the biggest roadblock to doing interesting, innovative work in any area of business. From the research that I’ve been doing, I see that great ideas stall for a couple of reason. First is that people lack the support they need to tell the story of a new idea. This means support from the people who decide whether or not to move it forward. Another is the fear of risking and, bigger yet, the risk of failure. And while we talk about embracing failure and failing fast, few are actually willing to do this. And last is management that’s not willing to nurture the ideas that people bring to the table. For employees to have the courage to share their ideas, they need the support of a culture that welcomes them.

Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of Spin Sucks@ginidietrich 

The skills I’d most like to acquire in 2019 are more data, more artificial intelligence, and social advertising outside of Facebook.

On more data, everything we have is manually pulled into a spreadsheet for the sales funnel we track. That’s not good! Our goal for 2019 is to use Google Data Studio to automatically dump our data into reports we need—and review from there.

On more artificial intelligence, we’ve spent all of this year putting notes from client meetings, transcriptions from calls, and emails from conversations into Nutshell, our CRM. Our goal is, by the end of 2019, to have all of that pulled into IBM Watson Personality Insights to start to create internal training for our teams—and to provide better onboarding when we hire someone new.

On more social advertising, it’s no surprise Facebook is in a lot of trouble. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to go away, but we’re pretty dependent on it for most of our sales. Nothing else is as effective or as efficient. But 2019 means we need to find better effectiveness in Instagram, YouTube, and Google. At the very least, spread out our eggs so they’re not all in the Facebook basket. – Gini Dietrich, founder and author, Spin Sucks

Wendy Marx, award-winning PR/marketing exec who helps B2B companies become well-known brands, President at Marx Communcations@wendymarx 

Wendy Marx

As the owner of a B2B PR and inbound marketing agency, we’re always looking for new ways to help boost our client’s visibility. We’re finding Instagram to be an unexpected treasure trove for some of our clients and I want to be sure we’re utilizing that to the fullest. AI, of course, is all the rage and I will be increasing my skills in that area and finding ways to intelligently use it for my agency and clients. In the B2B space, storytelling has often taken a back seat to selling.I plan to uncover more creative ways for our clients to tell their stories so that they rise above the din. To that end, we will take a leaf from some excellent B2C work. Lastly, I want to expand our inbound marketing offer. We do inbound marketing for our own agency but want to beef up what we offer clients. PR and inbound marketing are a powerful combo and the integration will benefit our clients.

Iliyana Stareva, Global Partner Program Manager at HubSpot@IliyanaStareva

Iliyana Stareva

One of the reasons why I love HubSpot is because it’s such a fast-moving company. We introduce new products, new initiatives, new features all the time. As Global Partner Program Manager, my responsibility is to make things happen. We have big goals for the future of our Partner Program and for me 2019 is going to be all about execution. In my opinion, the key thing to successful execution of any project, initiave or program is change management. When you design a new future, you need to ensure that not only your leadership is on board and excited about the change but also the front-line folks who will be involved in doing the work on a daily basis. Change management has a lot to do with physochology and the understanding of people – what they need, what inspires them, what scares them, what motivates them to push forward. And what makes this tricky is that you will have different audiences to which you will need to adjust your messaging – sales reps, customer success reps, executives, managers etc. So for me, 2019 is going to be all about understanding people more deeply and with that knowledge driving company-wide change across the globe.

Victoria Solakova, Account Director, Head of ICT at United Partners

victoria solakova

My job is my passion and the reason for that are the people—the lovely, shiny, inspiring, and creative people I am surrounded by. To build a reliable team of professionals is probably the hardest job. It takes time to grow talents and to identify their strengths. For 2019, I will focus more on that—to be a better version of myself when it comes to my team, the clients I work with, and the people in my life. To become more consistent, a strategic-thinker, better listener, good person, and excellent professional, to constantly learn and fine-tune my soft skills, to upgrade my current skills and design an outstanding approach for achieving higher results. Let it be

Robyn Levin, Marketing Strategist, Video Storyteller, Founder & CEO at Robyn Levin Media, @robynlevin

Robyn Levin

Like an accomplished professional athlete, it’s important to revisit and master the fundamentals in order to ensure continued success. As a former competitive figure skater, I was coached to train hard, skate my best, and learn new moves while never forgetting the core basic skills. As I advanced, it was increasingly important to rely on the fundamentals in order to forge ahead and maintain my edge and balance. So, what does this have to do with career skills looking ahead? As 2018 comes to a close and PR professionals ponder the future, I think it’s a great time to return to our basics and master two vital skills—relationship building and great storytelling. After all, that’s the heart and essence of effective PR.

As a passionate brand builder for over 20 years—I’ve been helping companies and experts transform their businesses using the latest technology combined with traditional PR strategies. It’s extremely rewarding to see our clients grow and prosper knowing how important storytelling plays a role. One particular client tripled their business to $3BN in three years as a result of our PR and digital marketing programs. When I look back at the work involved, it’s clear how important relationships played a role with clients and the media.

Despite numerous predictions of AI, Chatbots, and Big Data taking over in 2019, marketing is still a human function. Crafting a captivating story that triggers emotion will win the hearts and influence actions of the intended audience. As PR pros, our role has changed a lot over the years and the demands are greater than ever. I believe the ability to build strong relationships combined with creative storytelling will help cut through the clutter to get our messages delivered. Social media makes it relatively easy to find and approach the right journalists and media outlets. I recommend taking more time to identify, cultivate and nourish new valuable relationships. By being a trusted resource and providing timely interesting information—all parties will benefit. Now is the perfect time to pause, reflect, and plan a smarter PR approach to better serve our clients. Returning to the fundamentals of PR is a good starting point.

Anna Lebedeva, Head of Growth Marketing at SEMrush, @StayGypsy

Anna Lebedeva

Data and Analytics. The competition for audience attention is getting only more severe than ever. You need to learn how to get deeper into the numbers to see what is working and what is not. Second-party data is becoming more widely used than ever before. But to understand the numbers, you need to know how to correctly and promptly interpret them. You need to learn how to “see” insights and not just the plain number. And for that, you must_gain additional skills, go through the process of trials and errors, experiment and see if your interpretation was proven right by further campaign success.

Trends to follow:

  1. Fjord Trends 2019 
  2. New Normal 2019/20
  3. The Future is urban (20018/2019)
  4. Customer Service/Customer Experience Predictions for 2019 (Forbes)
  5. 2019 Visual Trends to be Aware of [Infographic]
  6. Baker’s Dozen of 2019 Trends
  7. Synerise forecast: Technology Trends to Watch in 2019 | Synerise Business Forecast for 2019: Digital Transformation
  8. World PR Report 2018 – ICCO
  9. The Future 100: 2019
  10. Public Relations in 2019 – Stephen Waddington
  11. 85+ Expert Predictions for Content Marketing in 2019
  12. See what made The 2019 Topics & Trends Report from Facebook IQ
  13. 12 Powerful PR Trends That Will Shape Your Strategy for 2019 – Marx Communications

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