Public Relations Trend Watch 2014


As public relations professionals, we are constantly bombarded with end-of-year roundups, trend reports and predictions for the year ahead. Because our business requires us to constantly monitor media outlets, the number of these roundups is magnified for us. We’re not only aware of roundups related to our niche, but to those of our diverse and unique clients. Our business is staying up to date on their business.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to “look back” with the rest of the industry and think about how PR has evolved in just the past year and the emerging trends that will be ever-so-important in 2014. Unlike a restaurant that will probably survive if they don’t incorporate a kale salad onto their menu over the next 12 months, when it comes to public relations, these trends should be implemented quickly in order to grow with this rapidly changing industry.

Below I have outlined a few trends that have been heating up for the past couple of years. Implementing or incorporating these public relations trends into your next strategy or skill set have become imperative to keeping up with the growing demands of the industry.

Content Marketing

You’ve heard it before, but in 2013 you heard it loud and clear. Content marketing, or the technique of creating and distributing relevant content to attract or engage your target audience, has become the kale salad of public relations trends — it’s everywhere. Making the trend chart for at least the last couple of years, content is alive and well and it’s time to make content a part of your public relations strategy if you haven’t already.

In the past, journalists more typically provided content after contacting or being contacted by a publicist representing the client. These days, the publicist is more likely to be the ones developing the content, using a variety of mediums such as contributed articles or social media. Content is a commitment, but if done correctly, it will undoubtedly help you run a more successful campaign. Planning can be as simple as organizing an editorial calendar; including everything from big holiday and yearly themes to daily Facebook posts and tweets. As a communicator, everything we touch incorporates content and it’s time to give significant attention to this growing trend.

Creating More Owned Content

This trend is in direct relation to the current state of the media industry. As media outlets move to cut newsroom resources and change up their editorial model to gain increased web traffic, journalists and bloggers are now more likely to consider owned, third party content. This type of information can include anything from a contributed news articles to market research or Whitepaper. These contributed pieces are a win, win. Not only are you providing great content for the media outlet but you are giving your client or your company incredible exposure, further establishing them as a thought leader in their industry.

One tip to keep in mind – stay away from being too promotional. The media has no interest in promoting your business or your client freely. They are looking to you as an expert in your field but not for you to just speak solely or specifically about your business. To make your content even more appealing to readers, work with your marketing colleagues to create infographics or other visually appealing graphical elements to enrich the piece.

Do Not Work In A Vacuum

As I mentioned above, you should use your marketing counterparts to make your public relations campaign well rounded. As you work with your marketing colleagues to enrich your content, consider working social media into the mix. I have never worked on a campaign where my audience was all in one place. In fact, audiences are more fragmented than ever before, splitting their attention between a growing number of channels. To ensure your message is reaching the appropriate people, integrate social media into your PR efforts to bring your message to new audiences. Sharing your content across multiple channels will ensure that people will see it.

Social media isn’t the only department you’ll want to integrate with. Start thinking about how you can work side-by-side with your search engine optimization (SEO) coworkers as well. Social media and content creates organic SEO. Public relations professionals need to become well versed with these platforms or work together with their marketing coworkers in order to break through the “noise” to get the best exposure. In 2014 and beyond, the need to integrate all of these aspects will continue to grow so now is the time to start educating yourself.

Content marketing, social media and search engine optimization – although none of these skills fall under the traditional description of public relations, the demands on PR professionals are ballooning. In 2014, the overall scope of a public relations strategies and the skill set of professional communicators and their teams will continue to grow and in itself an important trend to be aware of next year.