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Public relations in 2018


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This is an article and deck about the outlook for public relations and social media in 2018. It’s based on insight from my day job working at Ketchum.

12 months is an arbitrary period to measure change in a sector that is rapidly innovating in some areas such as artificial intelligence and digital media; but woefully slow in others such as diversity and ethics.

If there’s anything that I can do in my role at Ketchum to help your organisation address any of the issues highlighted, please let me know.

Published in: Business
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Public relations in 2018

  1. 1. Public relations in 2018 There’s never been such an exciting time to work in the business of public relations Stephen Waddington @wadds
  2. 2. #1 Professional status: public relations There’s a growing shift to public relations becoming recognised as a management discipline. The drum beat of professionalism in public relations has been getting louder over the past decade and has accelerated since the Bell Pottinger scandal this year (£). My view is that 2018 will prove to be a breakthrough year for the professionalism of public relations as a result of a concerted effort on a number of fronts. Source: Stephen Waddington
  3. 3. #2 All of life is shifting to the internet There are currently 4.3 billion people of the world’s 7.6 billion population connected to the internet. By 2030 everyone on the planet will be connected. Organisations need to communicate in the spaces where their publics do. It’s an obvious point but one that is often forgotten. Connectivity should improve inclusivity however the digital media environment is coalescing around a group of monopolies. 2061 1500 1300 1300 963 850 700 606 368 361 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 Facebook YouTube WhatsApp Facebook Messenger WeChat QQ Instagram Qzone Tumblr Weibo Source: ICT Facts and Figures 2017
  4. 4. #3 Social media matures Social media is maturing. It is becoming increasingly visual and in the moment. Short video messaging is the current vogue. Platforms are copying features from each other in a bid to engage users for as long as possible. This emerging media environment faces challenges with fake news and transparency.
  5. 5. #4 Identifying audiences or publics Two billion monthly Facebook users generate a huge amount of data. The platform has become a powerful planning tool. But it’s not alone. Every post, click, like and comment that we leave on a social media platform leaves an audit trail. Public relations and marketing practitioners use this data to discover and identify audiences and publics, and understand their motivation. Source: Facebook Business
  6. 6. #5 Listening to conversations The application of data in public relations isn’t a new trend. What is new is the scale of data in public relations and the growing availability of third party tools that enable us to make sense of it. Practitioners need to be aware of the provenance of data and the ethical implications of using it to inform insights. Source: 25 things we learned analyzing billions of Tweets
  7. 7. #6 Tell me a story The craft of telling a story across different forms of media, and engaging a public, is more important than ever. It’s critical to cutting through a cluttered media environment. Creative and content, the keys to good storytelling, are frequently overlooked elements of public relations. They lie at the heart of inspiring conversations, and storytelling. Source: #NuggsForCarter
  8. 8. #7 Shift to newsroom workflow Public relations operations have become more like traditional media operations in the last decade. The simple fact is that public relations practitioners don’t have hours to respond to an issue. It’s difficult and not always perfect but the organisations that are sufficiently brave, win. The skills, technology and workflow used in media and public relations are converging. Frequently people switch between the two disciplines. Source: How to build a newsroom or press office for the modern media environment
  9. 9. #8 Performance public relations Measurement should no longer be an issue within public relations. But outdated practices mean that practitioners remain wedded to old forms of measurements. Measurement is hard and so the public relations business has developed proxies for measurement. We’ll be taken serious as a discipline when we provide meaningful measurement that is aligned to the organisations that we serve. Source: AMEC
  10. 10. #9 Mainstream media resurgence The use of earned media as part of a public relations campaign didn’t ever go away. Undoubtedly traditional media has modernised. It’s become social and uses data. Fake news primarily on social media, means that traditional media brands have reversed declines and are enjoying a resurgence.
  11. 11. #10 Communities as media Community is a much abused and maligned word in this social media era. Create a Twitter hashtag, or build a Facebook or LinkedIn group, and people will come. Except they don’t. The internet is littered with failed community building efforts. Successful communities, online and offline, are co- created around a shared purpose.
  12. 12. #11 Leadership becomes social Executives that are serious about leading a modern organisation will invest in their social media footprint in 2018. 10 years ago executive profiling meant targeting features in the broadsheet and trade media. Today’s modern executive is more likely to seek support in optimising their social networks and content.
  13. 13. #12 Polarised tribes and filter bubbles In public relations algorithms are commonplace for searching and organising how information is displayed. They create bubbles that insulate us from differing opinions. It’s contrary to the promise of social media, namely that we’d be able to connect with each other and have an equal voice in public discourse. Source: A manifesto for public relations in a post-truth world
  14. 14. #13 Diversity There’s an increasingly accepted premise in public relations that teams of practitioners should represent the publics that they seek to serve. The same issues applies in media and social media platforms. We need equal and equitable representation of age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and socio- economic background.
  15. 15. #14 Trump cycle Messages published to social networks, whether true or false, can quickly become accepted wisdom within a community, even if they’re nonsense. President Trump has turned the exploitation of these factors into an art form. This isn’t about news cycles, they’re long dead, but the Trump cycle. His own administration, let alone opponents, struggle to keep pace before Trump moves to the next story.
  16. 16. #15 Influencers: relationships vs reach Public relations in practice is evolving from media relations to influencer relations, and then from community management to social business. Each new form of media from Snapchat to YouTube, and Instagram to Twitter, has given rise to a new breed of influencers. Media relations has shifted from pitching traditional media to working with these individuals across all forms of media. Source: Influencer relations: the latest war between marketing and public relations
  17. 17. #16 Artificial intelligence normalised Artificial intelligence was the shiny new thing in public relations in 2017. I’ve been using artificial intelligence since I used WordPerfect 5.1 in the early 80s. In fact it’s never been bettered as a word processor. But we’re starting to feel the impact of machines in at least three areas: content production; content distribution and publication; and workflow.
  18. 18. #17 Talk to me Advances in speech recognition and computer intelligence are set to bring about the next wave in internet disintermediation. Consider the application of voice technology incorporated into Amazon Echo, Apple Siri or Google Home, combined with the contextual data that each organisation has about you and information from the open web. This new class of device is set to create another wave of internet disintermediation.
  19. 19. #18 Chat bots are hot bots Facebook launched a chatbot platform for its Messenger application last year. 100,000 bots have been created on Messenger in the past 12 months. With more than 1.3 billion people using Messenger, inevitably the market has got hot. Bots have been developed to help with customer service, support and sales. Source: Chatbots as a public relations tool: proceed with caution
  20. 20. #19 Fake news and brand misplacement There are two main purposes for fake news. The first is propaganda and the second is profiteering. We’ve only just started to understand how social media can be manipulated. In 2018 we need greater disclosure from social media platforms, more academic research, and the introduction of legislation to start to deal with this issue.
  21. 21. #20 Social platforms tackle governance Social media need to be held accountable to the same rules and regulation that apply to mainstream media. This should be governed by prevailing advertising and media law, and in particular the democratic process. Platforms are scrambling to address governance and transparency in a bid to avoid being reclassified as publishers.
  22. 22. Thank you. Questions? Please visit my blog for an expanded version of this deck. If there’s anything that I can do in my role at Ketchum to help your organisation address any of the issues highlighted, please let me know. Stephen Waddington Ketchum @wadds