Don’t have a beard, fixie or some cool headphones.
Feeling left out.
Then you are maybe not up with the latest fad. But fads are one thing and trends are another. Fads come and go but trends have the potential to become a powerful influence for long term change.
Change in the past was slow. Tesla is the first major car manufacturer in over 100 years.
But we are now in the midst of a digital and communications revolution that is disrupting life, business and media in just the space of a few years.
Change is scary
Humans are creatures of habit.
We get into the same side of bed each night, put our shoes on the same way each morning and drop into the same coffee shop before work.
Teaching old dogs new tricks is a challenge that may seem not worth the price and investment in time. It requires constant re-education that offers no guarantees of change. But the new digital world is unrelenting and change is constant.
Today’s digital disruption is fast and ruthless.
It takes no prisoners. Old industries are dying and new ones are rising. We have seen the Kindle destroy the book store, Apple transform the music industry and Netflix make a video store a fond memory.
The perfect storm
The social web and the smartphone revolution is supercharging the perfect communications storm.
To put some perspective on it. Here is some of the latest data on the scale, size and scope of the ecosystem that is feeding the trend tornadoes.
- 3 billion social media users
- 97 billion active mobile social users
- 42 billion internet users
These are not fads.
Traditional media is struggling.
Newspapers were the focus of the PR professional. Build a relationship with a journalist and you could get some column inches. Press releases were the primary way to get breaking news out about a brand. These are not as effective as they used to be.
So…. it’s time for reinvention. You have no choice unless irrelevance is a word you enjoy.
The technology is different and the communications channels are Facebook and SnapChat. They play to a different tune and tactics. Disappearing content and multi-media that tells a story with videos and images.
5 PR trends to watch
So what are 5 big PR trends that you need to be aware of so that you don’t become a dinosaur in your own lifetime as a communications and PR professional?
#1. The online influencer is now a marketing force you can’t ignore
The online influencer has moved from a fad to a mainstream trend that PR professionals and brands are embracing.
Today it’s more about finding the right influencer to get your story out rather than the best newspaper. Influencers are already talking to your customers. They also have credibility and trust.
The rise of the influencer is a hot trend as revealed by Google Trends. In fact the rate of interest in this term is classified by Google as “breakout” (this means the term’s growth compared to the previous period exceeds 5,000%).
In 2013 the term influencer started to trend up. But you can see from 2015 the growth has been explosive as marketers, brands and organizations started to recognize that influencers on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube could provide communications impact influence at scale.
They started to evolve their digital marketing and communications to tap the trend.
Traditional channels don’t carry the same communications cred (or interest) anymore.
Want to supercharge your communications?
Amplify it with some influencers who already have the hearts, minds and trust of the people who want to hear that message.
#2. Technology is now needed to scale your communications
Dozens of communications channels, rich multi-media and a ton of digital noise means that you need technology to scale your efforts. Otherwise you are going to be busier than a one legged man in a kick boxing competition.
So in essence…not productive or effective.
Technology that automated much of the communication and publishing was seen as almost evil. But the splintering of media requires tools and digital marketing automation tools and listening posts to handle the complexity and noise.
#3. The social web is democratizing communications
The gatekeepers of old media were the media barons and the journalists. You had to beg permission or schmooze.
We have all become publishers with social network platforms that allow us all to create text, video and photos and share on our smart phones. Companies have become publishers in their own right. Red Bull is now almost more a media company than a drink producer.
This has allowed brands to reach their customers without paying the gatekeepers. They are becoming digital asset owners.
So…start building those online portals now that communicate directly to the world.
#4. Digital content is the new PR spin doctor
In a digital world of bloggers and digital media platforms with large global reach you are now defined by your online content. It is how you build credibility and trust in a digital world. Content that is found in Google is perceived as the truth.
Content marketing is now front and center of any savvy brands communication and marketing. As a term its interest is still trending up.
Make sure that you have positive bulwark of content that rises to the top in search and social in a world that judges you by a YouTube video, a blog post or a photo on Instagram.
#5. Brand influence is measureable
Old buddy networks still work and human connections are still powerful and useful. But real influence is now starting to be measured with data metrics. The data reveals who is being heard, how many are listening and even what actions they are taking.
You can measure positive or negative sentiment.
Digital data can measure what works and what doesn’t. The size of the social networks that are following a brand on Facebook reveal a brand’s popularity.
The biggest challenge
You can mentally get all this…..but the biggest challenge to embracing innovation and disruption is this.
Forgetting old habits.
John Maynard Keynes had this to say about change and innovation. “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping old ones1”
This will mean a life of continuous learning.
It doesn’t mean going back to university but consuming online training, reading blogs and even attending online webinars. Killing old habits means a force fed diet of new information and ideas.