Seven Predictions for the Future of PR

10 02 2012

It’s usual to post predictions for the year ahead in the first week of January rather than well into the second month.  Convention also dictates that thoughts for the future should come in nice round batches of ten.

My main reason for not posting earlier in the year was that I was holding back my ‘Mystic Meg’ style musings on the direction of PR for the Insight Twelve event brought to you by those wonderful people at Don’t Panic. Now that’s a mere memory, I’m sharing them here.

There’s no science behind the number seven.  That’s all I could muster, there are also no guarantees attached but the insights fall into three categories: no brainers, highly probable and debatable.  The last of these doesn’t indicate that I’m not convinced, more that others disagree.   You decide which is which.

1. Social Media will vanish

Strictly speaking I mean the description rather than the ‘thing’ itself.  The notion that social media marketing or PR exists in isolation of other channels will quickly disappear.  So called mainstream media is becoming more socialised, so I see the distinction evaporating and we’ll talk about media again not social or conventional.

2.  The link between PR & Search will become more significant

The top results on Google are the most important single influence on the reputation of any organisation or individual.  Search engines are also in a constant battle to promote natural search elevating real news and information. That’s where the enlightened and educated PR person comes in.

3.   The dymamics of the journalist and PR relationship will alter

This isn’t my prediction is was made by the hugely insightful journalist and blogger, Tom Foremski.  He has said “PR people … are pitching stories to journalists who have very much smaller pageviews on the stories they write, and far smaller Twitter/Facebook communities to which to distribute their stories, than the PR people.”  He also saw this trend over two-years ago.  Read his full post here.

4.   The decline in print and in newspapers will accelerate

No-one could have predicted the closure of the UK’s biggest selling newspaper in 2011.  It was prompted by scandal but owners NewsCorp know that they have to reduce their exposure to print. Circulation, pagination and title numbers will all fall in 2012.

5.   Video content will become more evident in PR campaigns

The growth in video consumption is astronomical. Apple TV will demolish the wall between web TV and current broadcast platforms.  Cost of production is in free fall.  You do the math.

6.    The definition of PR will change to reflect the reality

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is leading a global campaign to modernize the definition of public relations. It is addressing the prevailing confusion about public relations’ role and value and it is doing so in an open and engaging way.

7.    The reality of PR will change to reflect the impact of social channels on reputation

At the Think 11 conference last May, Colin Byrne, CEO UK and Europe, Weber Shandwick and Robert Phillips, CEO (EMEA), Edelman, both identified that the practice of PR was changing and that reputation was now built on action not spin.  We would do well to heed the brightest leaders in our profession.

Why PR Needs to Wake-Up

4 03 2010

The bulk of the PR profession needs a wake up call and fast.   We have seen what is happening to print media at a regional level in the UK and US and the UK national newspaper heartland will be the next sector to feel the squeeze.  Never mind the quality of the Sunday papers, feel the width.  Not as bulky as they used to be are they?

Broadcast media is changing too, with event TV dominating schedules and more traditional content being driven by on-demand services.  The cosy relationships where PR people sit between journalists and clients trafficking ‘news’ just isn’t enough any more.

So here are five things every PR person should be thinking about.

1. Earned Media 

Media coverage achieved for clients in the digital world falls into three categories; bought, earned and owned.  ‘Bought media’ was always and is still the province of the advertising business.  ‘Earned media’ is the heartland of PR.  At one level this is just the online version of editorial but it is richer and deeper than that.  We should be collaborating to create content that will earn coverage.  Audio interviews, creative videos posted on YouTube and disseminated across the web as well as words and pictures are the collateral we must use.

 2. Owned Media 

We can create our own spaces on-line that have the capacity to become channels in their own right.  I firmly believe that PR people should blog but the concept of ‘owned media’ can extend much further.  Relevant content brings people to you.  The PR and corporate communications team at ASDA know this.  They have 18 million shoppers, mostly mums and they have used that weight to engage with the major parties during the coming general election and will be using their ‘owned’ channels to host political debate.

3. Reputation Online

“Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system. And that’s one of the most powerful reasons so many CEOs have become more transparent: Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable. In other words, radical transparency is a double-edged sword, but once you know the new rules, you can use it to control your image in ways you never could before.”  These words were written by Clive Thompson in Wired almost three years ago. PR has always been about reputation management  and arguably a key determinant of reputation is the content on page one of a Google Search. Search therefore is very important to PR.

4. PR & SEO 

If you’re not sure what SEO is you may be in the wrong job.  The most important tool that search engine optimisation specialists have at their disposal is now the ‘press release’. They may in many cases be badly written, off message and even inaccurate but the SEO companies are all using them, with embedded links.   This is a serious threat to the PR industry as it stands.  If we don’t educate ourselves about the value of good editorial and link strategies as part of PR, we’ll be left behind.  Whatever you think about the idea of ‘social media releases’ when you send out content to the media you should embed links. 

5. Evaluation     

We’ve always claimed we don’t like rate card equivalent and then used it any way.  Well now is our chance.  So much of what is online can be measured, sorted and analysed and we need to know how to do this.  Every PR person should have a least a working knowledge of web analytics and should be able to manage tools for analysing conversations on-line.

All of these areas are natural extensions of traditional PR but that doesn’t mean we own them.  We need to stake our claim …or others will.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #7

21 12 2009

So far the top ten has acknowledged the importance of blogging, digging and social networking.  Now it is the turn of photo-sharing.

Number 7: Flickr 

It was launched in 2004 and within three years claimed to hold in excess of two billion images.  At the start it was a way of collecting and sharing images ‘found’ on the web but very quickly users began to upload their own photographs.  

One of the most important features that Flickr introduced was the ability to tag images making them easier to find and organise.  Flickr also introduced the concept of ‘Interestingness’ a vital aspect of the site in both ranking images but making it more appealing for browsers.  Bloggers were quick to see the benefits of integrating with Flickr.  It allows low resolution images to be posted on a blog, facilitating faster loading but with the opportunity to click through to a high-resolution image hosted on Flickr.

Despite the size of Flickr there is a web 2.0 site that host even more images, but more of that as we progress through the top ten.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #8

18 12 2009

A major social network makes the list for the first time in this festive countdown of the most influential places on the web to make their debut in the last decade.  Joining WordPress and Digg on the top ten is the trail blazer MySpace

Number 8 – MySpace As well as being the standard bearer for social networking and the unassailable leader in the sector in the middle years of the decade, MySpace has also been something of a problem child.  Launched in 2003, in less than three years MySpace became the most popular social networking site in the US, a position it held for just two short years before becoming eclipsed by Facebook.  Famously it was bought in July 2005 for US$580 million by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Despite controversies around the site’s launch (many argue that identifying Tom Anderson  as its founder is inaccurate) and a commonly held  view that it is poorly designed, MySpace has had a huge impact on the web.   Social networking in general became mainstream via MySpace and the fact that it allowed users the ability to embed YouTube clips gave huge impetus to the video sharing site in its early days.  Claims that it is all over for MySpace seem a little rash when it remains the world’s 12th biggest web site and the 5th most popular in the US.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #9

17 12 2009

The countdown continues.  This is the ‘PR and the Social Web’ selection of the top ten wonders of the internet, brought to us during the first decade of the new millennium.

Number 10 was a blogging platform and at number 9 it’s all about digging and burying.

Number 9 – Digg: Founded in 2004 by web whizz Kevin Rose, Digg is one of a handful of sites like Delicious and Stumbleupon that hands the business of filtering, ordering and ultimately ranking of the internet to its users.  What could be more web 2.0 than that? allows users to discover and share content from anywhere on the web.  People submit links, news stories and other content.  The digg community votes on these links and stories.  The ability to vote is central to what Digg is about: if you like something you digg it (geddit?) and if you don’t you ‘bury’ it by voting it down.  Only the most Dugg stories appear on the front page but when they do it ensures a huge spike in traffic for the original host site.

The site  is also the focus of the hugely popular weekly podcast Diggnation hosted by founder Kevin Rose.  The podcast covers many of the most discussed popular stories on Digg that week.  It make be just outside the top 100 in the most visited sites on the web but it makes this top ten web wonders of the decade.

Top 10 Web Wonders of the Decade #10

16 12 2009

As we draw to the end of the zeroes (sounds so much better than naughties surely?), this blog is counting down the ‘PR and the Social Web’ top ten wonders of the internet, brought to us over the last ten years.  No place here for the likes of Amazon or Google which appeared in the nineties. So in reverse order….

Number 10: WordPress

‘Blogger’ would have been in the running if it had launched six months later but the original blogging platform was a product of the nineties, just.  It is highly arguable that ‘WordPress’ is also the better bet.  The templates look better and it feels more accessible and straightforward to use, though admittedly less popular (it sits at number 20 on with Blogger currently at number 6).  Blogging platforms have been instrumental from redistributing publishing power from the few to the many.  User generated content and web 2.0  apre products of the blogging revolution. The social web has WordPress at its heart.

It isn’t just the ‘have a go’ bloggers that use WordPress (this site is built with using a standard themed template), many major organisations use a wordpress platform because it is both robust and easy to work with. CNN, Techcrunch, The New York Times and Le Monde all use the WordPress platform as does Playstation and Ben & Jerry’s.  

WordPress was launched in 2003 with less than twenty users it is now used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.  WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are people all over the world work on it and everything  from the support documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community.  It also means it is free to use.  As it says on the site Code is Poetry.

Top Five Posts – September 09

3 10 2009

Here are the top five posts on the PR and the Social Web this September. They are ranked by number of views with the highest at number one.

Click the titles to take you to the full post.

1. Twitter Profile Picture Gets the Bird

How twitter changed the default avatar and ‘lost’ a ton of profile pics in the process

2. Derren Brown’s Lottery Slips

How Derren gave the game away with his lottery number “prediction”

3. Google Says No Need to Tag Along

Google hasn’t used meta tags for years.

4. Ten Tips for Twitter Fame

A choice of ways to boosts your twitter profice

5. The Sun Won’t Win it

The Sun backs Cameron, but it won’t decide the result of the UK general election

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