As marketers, it’s always worthwhile to take a few minutes at the beginning of the year and think about where the world of public relations and communications is heading. Since some trends rise and fall very quickly, making a small impact on the communications and PR world, only to fade into obscurity, it’s hard to say with any certainty just what trends will actually make a lasting impact in the coming year and beyond. But, while we can’t be 100 percent certain about what the future holds, we can look at the direction things seem to be going and make a few educated guesses.
Will a New Social Media Network Take Over?
In July of last year, Ello, a new, ad-free social media platform that positioned itself as the opposite of every other social media network out there, seemed ready to change the way things were done. Although initial reports predicted that Ello would continue to gain in popularity, things quieted down pretty quickly.
It might be too soon to say whether Ello, or another social media network, will pop up this year to shake things up. At the end of December, VentureBeat noted that Ello had a few big plans for the upcoming year, including an update to its desktop version and native apps for both Android and iOS.
Ello’s ad-free nature might make it not a good fit for those in communications, PR and marketing. For that reason, it might be worth focusing efforts on the social media networks that are already major players, such as Facebook, which reported more than 850 million active daily users at the end of the third quarter, an increase of nearly 20 percent.
Will Paid Media Overtake Traditional PR?
The field of PR and communications is becoming ever more crowded, as traditional print media hangs on while websites, social media and other digital forms continue to grow and expand. As the field becomes more packed, some are turning to paid media options more and more, such as native advertising and branded content. There’s been the suggestion that paid media will overtake traditional PR in the coming year.
Native advertising, advertisements that look similar to the articles and other content on a website or in print, is one form of paid media that is expected to become increasingly popular, not just in 2015, but over the course of the next few years. Business Insider predicts spending on native advertising will climb to more than $10 billion in 2015, up from $4.7 billion 2013.
For companies, it might be better to focus on a mix of paid media as well as more traditional PR measures, such as non-paid placement in news stories, social media tactics, and blogging. While the reception of paid media such as native ads has been positive so far, there is the risk of backlash, especially if it is the sole tactic used by a company.
Content Will Become Even More Critical
“Content is king” has long been the mantra of marketers and those in the communications field. In recent years, the focus has shifted from quality over quantity, and in 2015, that focus on quality will become even more pronounced, as the arena becomes ever more crowded.
This coming year, content will need to be specifically tailored to its target audience to make the greatest impact. That can mean that more research will be need to performed on the part of the communications and marketing team to make sure that any content produced really lands and sticks with its audience.
No matter where things end up going in 2015, one thing remains clear. Focusing on engaging with an audience and producing quality media that people want to interact with will be key to any company’s communications success.