In a matter of weeks, 2019 will be consigned to history and we’ll enter a new decade; the 21st century edition of the roaring 20’s. With promises of prosperity and transformation, what progress can we expect to see in the technology PR landscape? Here are some of our predictions for 2020.
The year of storytelling
Increasingly, B2B and tech brands are realising that they have to engage with customers on an emotional level in order to stand out from the crowd. And this is where the art of storytelling comes into its own. We see this trend accelerating in 2020 with previously faceless CEOs creating video blogs and writing articles about their own personal journey in the media. Just as consumers have taken to live streaming on social media (think Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook stories) in a big way, businesses will follow suit and make stories an essential part of their PR armoury, with many also choosing Google Earth’s brilliant new feature to create their maps and stories.
Content will become multi-faceted
People are often too busy to consume long-form content while many simply have short attention spans which is why we’ll see more PR and marketing teams offer bite-able content in multiple formats. Think podcasts, moving images, and interactive content. These will be used by organisations to target existing and prospective customers, and by PRs to pitch new ideas to time-poor journalists.
PRs will become content moderators
PRs more than ever are faced with tackling fake news and disinformation. This means there is a job to be done in positioning their company or client as a trusted source of news and opinion. As such, they will spend more time researching, fact checking and validating stories reported on the web to improve the accuracy of their own storytelling and ensure their PR campaigns are based on true news.
Not the end of the press release but…
Too many pundits have predicted the end of the press release for us to venture down that route, however, the need for media to have original content in order to drive their own SEO will mean that most media coverage will be the result of one to one pitching of exclusive articles and comment. This will mean far more intelligent research by the PR teams before pitching ideas and a more creative approach to getting key messages out there through unique editorial.
Embedding ethics into PR and storytelling
Organisations are becoming more conscious and vocal about societal issues. This means PR teams will link their pitches and stories to wider conversations and issues as well as position their spokespeople as real humans which includes showing what they are really passionate about. It will be less about promoting a profitable business and more about promoting a sustainable and caring one.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption will continue to influence the way we do PR
AI will increasingly be used to automate mundane and repetitive tasks as well as inform insight-driven PR campaigns. AI is a grand phrase for what has been happening by degrees over the last few years and covers everything from coverage tracking to social listening and data gathering tools. The CIPR has produced a handy guide to AI in the world of PR and Comms, which includes a link to a crowdsourced list of the latest automation tools. Many people’s immediate response to AI is a fear of job losses but it’s not necessarily true. Existing roles will evolve, and new roles will be created. We’ll see a demand for technical PRs who can make sense of the data because AI needs a level of human oversight after all.
Pay to play won’t go away
Earned media is the gold dust of any PR campaign but some opportunities are only available as sponsored content. And if you have spent weeks working on an in-depth technology white paper, what is wrong with putting some money behind it on a platform like Computer Weekly? The main issue for 2020 is that PR clients and agencies will need to be honest about building in some budget to promote high value content in the places where customers go for information.
PR will lose its status as the junior partner in the marketing mix
PR has, until recently, been seen as inferior to other forms of marketing and communications. 2020 will be the year PR firmly integrates with social media, advertising, internal communications, public policy, events and so on. This will result in new agency partnerships being formed whereby niche agencies come together to offer specialist services in one all singing, all dancing package to clients.
PR and marketing teams will get serious about mental health
It’s an area that has been catapulted into the limelight – and for good reason. A recent PRCA report shows that nine in 10 professionals struggle with their mental health. 2020 will be the year of action where teams put in place programmes to reduce the stigma around mental health as well as provide the support and tools needed to help reduce pressure in the workplace. We have introduced an individual staff development budget that can be used for counselling or online mental health programmes.
Division of labour
Today, PR is so much more than writing a press release. As our other trends suggest, the tactics to drive brand awareness and engagement are now incredibly diverse. And with this will come a need for diverse roles – rather than a jack-of-all-trades role. Rather than copywriters and journalists, we’ll see a demand for strategists, content creators, researchers, data analysts, editors, video directors and much more.