This is a guest post by Rebecca Cressman, a consumer PR and communications specialist.
As PR pros, it’s hard enough to cram everything we need to do in the average day, never mind keeping up with the mountains of emerging trends popping up in our multiple newsfeeds by the minute.
However, in such a rapidly changing communications landscape, our success really depends on it.
As someone who’s spent the last year learning everything possible about some of today’s most up-and-coming sectors, including sustainability, social enterprise and startups, I can promise you there are some big changes on the horizon.
Here are five new strategies to add to your PR playbook today – to ensure you’ll still be successful in the future:
1. ‘Growth hacking’ content strategies.
It’s one of the big buzzwords in the startup industry right now, and for good reason. With the way social media platforms like Facebook keep changing their algorithms these days, it pays for brands to invest in driving audiences to owned channels with smart content strategies.
As Twitter debates its future and Snapchat figures out how to capitalize on its rising popularity, it’s likely more PR firms will be tasked with growing audiences across blogs and websites with a greater emphasis on A/B testing, influencer partnerships, SEO and analytics.
2. Deeper customer insights.
Startups fail when they don’t solve customer problems. And as the demand for quality, bespoke content grows, brands are also now faced with the challenge of creating useful resources that help solve real customer pain points.
As a result, I think more PR agencies will start taking a page out of the startup playbook (where user interviews are a must!) and start engaging more with target audiences through focus groups, advisory boards and panel discussions to gather richer insights prior to launch.
3. Social purpose and brand activism.
Taking a bold stand used to be a risky brand strategy. But as someone that’s watched the social enterprise sector explode before my own eyes, I promise you that positive, scalable social impact strategies make for solid, sustainable business models.
And helping out disadvantaged communities and taking a stand against issues that customers are passionate about are also great for building loyalty. I expect we’ll be seeing more case studies popping up alongside brands like Ben & Jerry’s when it comes to getting brand activism and social purpose right. And as PRs, we’ll be tasked with supporting and negotiating more NGO partnerships and integrating activist messages into mainstream campaigns.
4. More measurement and metrics.
An increasing number of businesses are joining the ranks of B Corps and also disclosing their economic, social and environmental impacts with ISO or GRI sustainability reporting.
And it’s highly likely that PRs will get more involved in this process, with increasing expectations to weave report results and positive business impacts into stories that connect with wider audiences.
I also think PRs will be asked to deliver more meaningful metrics, especially when it comes to stakeholder analysis and peak industry body campaigns, to feed into sustainability reports.
5. Adapting business canvas models
The startup world is also changing the rules when it comes to strategic planning – which I think will be a huge sigh of relief for any PR who’s spent weeks on campaign plans, only to see them instantaneously unraveled by competitor announcements or breaking news.
While I still believe strategy is as important as ever, as PRs we also need to recognize that the 24/7 news cycle also demands greater flexibility and the ability to pivot at a moment’s notice.
So I really hope to see more agencies using business canvas models when it comes to strategic planning and development. They’re a great way for smart PRs to strike the perfect balance between in-depth planning and swift calls to action.
Rebecca Cressman is a consumer PR and communications specialist with expertise in the sustainability, social enterprise and startup sectors. A recently certified GRI (G4) sustainability reporting trainee and Lean Startup advocate, Rebecca also shares the inspirational stories of sustainability startups on her blog globesprouting.