Although the year may be well underway, it is still not too late to think about PR and marketing trends for 2012. Over the course of the past few years, humanity as a whole has experienced a number of technological changes which have significantly impacted the way we do everything. It should come as no surprise that these new technologies have also changed PR and marketing. The key focus is now on interaction and engagement. Through a host of interactive media platforms it is now possible for target audiences to consume information in a completely new and revolutionary manner. This certainly places the onus on the creators of such information to deliver content via methods that offer maximum exposure and access. In order to make the most of new and emerging PR and marketing trends, it is essential to also understand how they have wrought changes within human behaviour, the technologies involved, and the engagement they offer your audience.
While digital media is certainly not a newbie to the marketing scene, this is the first time companies and organizations are making a shift toward relying upon digital marketing methods over traditional forms of media. Overall, an integrated marketing approach is still critical, however digital is now definitely taking precedence, both in terms of budget as well as strategy. Even traditional print publishing houses are now embracing the idea of digital. This is primarily due to the ability of digital media to adapt much faster and rapidly keep pace with developments as they occur.
Social media not only allows for quick adaptation, but also allows for organic development by involving the reader in stories as they emerge. Even the business world can take a page from this form of ‘social journalism.’ At the root of what we are now seeing is a change in behaviour which has been in the making for several years. Increasingly, the audience for any organization or brand can be found online. As a result, consumers are now demanding companies make the shift to the digital world. Practically all media is now consumed through a host of digital channels, including social media, apps, and the web. The most important key for marketers and PR professionals to take away from this shift is the need to focus on meeting the needs of online audiences. This could very well mean re-structuring your business, but ultimately it is a move that is essential to survival in an increasingly online world.
It likely comes as no surprise that social media is still an incredibly strong PR and marketing tool. The focus now must move beyond the question of whether or not you are incorporating social media in your marketing campaign, but whether you have made the move to decentralize your social media. Ask yourself whether a single person or department controls your social media outlets. Emerging trends indicate that the future of online marketing and PR will be focused upon social media that is increasingly decentralized. More and more, an entire organization has a hand in the integration of social media. The final result ensures that each and every person in the organization or company is an ambassador for your brand. Certainly, there are risks involved in this type of move. The largest risk is the relinquishment of control, and ultimately, relinquishment of your brand. While this can be a frightening move for many traditional marketers, it is crucial to understand the shift that has taken place as a result of the increased focus on digital media. At one time it might have been beneficial to ensure all company messages were as consistent as possible, but that is no longer the case. Any consistency should now be completely organic, and in order to achieve that you need to be prepared to ensure all employees are empowered with the ability to represent the company’s brand. To make the most of this opportunity, you must also be prepared to internally communicate your company’s cultural values. The ultimate goal should be a brand message that is similar, yet distinctive enough to be unique.
Beyond relying upon individuals internally involved in your organization to get the word out, there is also a trend in which increased focus is placed on user-generated content. Until recently, crowd-generated material was rather lacklustre, but that is all poised to change in 2012. The real key to succeeding with this method is to spend some time identifying the ideal crowd to help you communicate your story digitally. More and more companies are now engaging their customers and sharing the stories those customers have to tell about their own experiences. If you are not tapped into what your customers are saying about your company via their tweets, posts and mentions, you will be destined to fall behind the competition in the coming year. If you are not already building your networks and interacting with them on a regular basis, it is essential that you begin doing so.
Finally, we are now seeing a shift toward personalized content as individual needs are receiving more focus than larger target groups or demographics. A clear example of this shift is the way in which users are now able to utilize a treasure trove of applications to receive news automatically about specific topics. The ultimate takeaway point from this shift in behaviour is that the public as a whole is now selecting their content. Not only that, but they are doing it on their own terms. Trust has always been a critical component in the world of marketing. The importance of trust is now underscored more than ever. Today consumers are increasingly relying upon newsworthy suggestions via friends. The same trend is also emerging in social commerce. A recommendation service may not be new, but social commerce is now spreading like wildfire on Facebook. Given the number of active users on Facebook at any given moment in time and the way in which they interact, it is certainly the ideal platform for companies to market their products.
The changes emerging in PR and marketing in 2012 underscore the importance of telling stories, emphasizing a neutral tone, and lending trust and credibility to the company and brand.
Blog by +Emma Lunn