Trendspotting: PR Pros Look Ahead in the New Year

January 2, 2014

We asked 9 PRSA leaders what they see on the horizon for 2014. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: What are some upcoming communications trends you’ve noticed and what excites you most about the PR profession as we move into 2014? What should be top-of-mind for communicators?

“The practice of public relations is more important than ever because we’re in a mobile and digital age where reputations can change in an instant. Ideas, pictures and videos are posted, reaching a global audience in the blink of an eye. We are no longer just speaking to the public; we are inviting the public to speak for us. Multimedia is becoming faster and easier to use for everyone. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million — and live video is even better. In 2014, YouTube is the new Google.”

Ben Garrett, chair, PRSA Health Academy; chief get-it-done officer, Ben Garrett Group in Marietta, Ga.

“Next year, public relations will continue to see improvements in social media engagement. We will also see a boost in two things: analytics and the integration of mobile technologies. Managing big data and top-of-the-line analytics is increasingly important to help guide strategic decision-making in both the online and offline space. Also, public relations will focus more on geolocation and mobile technologies by bringing simple and accessible information to a wide variety of on-the-go stakeholders, as many are using their mobile phones as their primary point of online access. With so many ‘SoMoLo’ apps creating noise, PR professionals need to work with developers and designers to find the best way to communicate engaging, relevant and easily digestible information fitted to the small screen.”

Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., chair, PRSA Educators Academy; associate professor in communication, Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.

“There’s a mural in Long Beach, Calif., that says ‘Speed is the Greatest Factor in Modern Life.’ The mural was created in 1935 — and the saying holds true 80 years later, as social networks and digital media continue to decrease the time of communication and increase the demand that we respond quickly. In 2014, PR pros will need to find ways to help their clients communicate even faster.”

Joe Brennan, Ph.D., APR, chair, PRSA Counselors to Higher Education; vice president for strategic communications, University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa 

“Thanks to the Barcelona Principles, we’re making great strides to measure the real value of our contributions to business objectives. The next challenge will be to integrate those numbers with meaningful storytelling and the authentic strategic relationships that are the foundation of our industry. I’m looking forward to a 2014 full of new challenges, as we continue our work to ensure best, ethical practices that will lead our companies and clients to successful and stable futures.”

Nancy C. Syzdek, APR, executive committee member, PRSA Employee Communications Section; manager of corporate communications, JT3 LLC; lecturer, UNLV’s Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies in Las Vegas

“For generations, people have braved unimaginable hardships to come to the United States in search of better lives. But America’s fundamental optimism has been shaken in recent years, and I believe that people are hungry for leadership and vision. It’s true in our profession as well as in our country. Leadership requires hard work, the determination to succeed, the ability to inspire others and even the courage to fail. That’s why I love the theme of our 2014 International Conference: ‘Leading the Way: A Fearless Future for PR.’ Who will we inspire tomorrow? What will our legacy be?”

Barbara Kerr, APR, president, PRSA Portland Metro Chapter; chief communications officer, Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corp., in Beaverton, Ore.

“All around us, we hear how everyone has a story to tell. As we move into 2014, it will be up to PR professionals to continue to be the moral compass that gives those industry stories an additional level of authenticity. Infographics, Instagram and the like can provide the medium, but PR people must provide the right balance of action, adventure, drama and humor that solidifies a lasting story.”

Marc Vasquez, APR, president, PRSA Kansas City Chapter; interactive marketing manager, UMB Financial Corporation in Kansas City, Mo.

“Focused content has been and will continue to be a hot topic in 2014. Identifying niche audiences, drafting targeted messaging and selecting specific communication vehicles to reach them will be key. This is an exciting trend because it has the potential to build loyal brand ambassadors and advocates for any organization. Cheers to a fruitful year!”

Reema Makani Boccia, APR, president, PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter; principal, Two Rivers Strategies, in San Diego

“Social media has revolutionized PR strategies. Using videos on YouTube and Facebook, along with traditional communication strategies, has opened new doors to developing relationships with our stakeholder publics. While video news releases have been around a while, practitioners have been at the mercy of media gatekeepers to decide whether to use them. No more. With social media and the magic of a digital camera/video recorder, PR professionals now have the ability to effectively share messages directly with target audiences at little or no cost. Newfound communications freedom for PR practitioners!”

Melinda Mayo, president, PRSA Blue Ridge Chapter; public information officer for the City of Roanoke, Va.

“Strengthen the foundation for your campaigns. The rate of communication and the multitude of message points continue to increase at rates never seen. The bad news: This will only grow faster and larger. The good news: We can target our campaigns with the exact messaging at the exact audience we want. 2014 will bring more avenues for our messaging in wildly creative ways. However, if we neglect the foundation on which all solid PR campaigns are built, such as researching, planning, testing, altering and evaluating, then our messages will be overrun by louder, more verbose messages from the market noise.”

Sam Sims, APR, chair, PRSA District Council; executive committee member, PRSA Technology Section; director of public relations and marketing, US Fleet Tracking in Edmond, Okla.

Managing Editor Amy Jacques compiled the responses from these nine members.


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