What PR-Related Trend Do You See on the Horizon for 2015?

January 1, 2015


We asked 17 communications professionals to share their thoughts about what PR trends they think will be prominent in 2015. Here’s what they said:


“There will be greater accountability than ever before. No matter what environment you work in, as dollars continue to be scarce, only those strategies that offer the greatest chance to move the enterprise forward will win the competitive battle for funding. Our success will be determined by great strategic plans that will be well implemented and measured for how well they drive the overall goals of the organization.”

Steven V. Seekins, APR, Fellow PRSA, Principal at Lewton, Seekins & Trester, Chair of PRSA College of Fellows


“Major trends the last several years have been related to how we communicate, from social media to the power of video. We’re reaching — and some would say we have reached — the point of information overflow. In 2015, there will be a greater focus on what we communicate. Essentially, we will see a year of getting back to PR basics.”

 — Amber Albrecht, APR, Communications Manager at San Diego Gas & Electric Communications, President of PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter


“Our future continues to shift to an individualistic, on-demand culture, making the task of rallying internal and external audiences around a common goal more challenging than ever. We’ll continue to see the push to focus on shared values and trust through storytelling, but we can’t stop at the campfire. Energy and emotion, without focus and direction, will breed cynicism. We need to engage and empower our stakeholders to act for meaningful collective change.”

Nancy C. Syzdek, APR, Corporate Communications at JT3, Chair of PRSA Employee Communications Section


“With the ever-changing nature of traditional media, we will see more media outlets merging and consolidating. We will see more journalists joining the PR world. With the continuing evolution of social media and the shift away from traditional media consumption, the way PR practitioners pitch stories will continue to evolve. We need to find new ways to connect and make our clients relevant. And we need to be strategic and proactive, taking the time to plan and anticipate our clients’ needs.”

Abbie S. Fink, Vice President and General Manager at HMA Public Relations, Chair of PRSA Counselors Academy


“The growing convergence of public relations and marketing will accelerate in 2015. PR practitioners need to reinforce our value as strategists and counselors, get comfortable with marketing lingo and techniques, and advocate for the broad view we bring — or risk being cast in a tactical role as the folks who earn media and plan events.”

Joe Brennan, Ph.D., APR, Vice President of Strategic Communication at the University of Iowa


“It’ll be back to the future for PR in 2015. As the PR business grows and expands its remit, we’ll keep doing more, better. Clients will turn to us at an even greater pace for compelling content delivered across all forms of media. We’ll continue to deliver insights, ideas and engagement as well as, or better than, our counterparts in other disciplines. But that’s not the trend I’m predicting.  What I see in my crystal ball is a return to sophisticated media relations. PR people are the ones at the proverbial table who can effectively persuade media of all kinds to cover our clients’ stories. In the quest for doing more, better, we should embrace this critical role and give it the spotlight it deserves. 2015 will be the year that we demand more from ourselves as media relations experts.”

Ellen Ryan Mardiks, Vice Chairman at Golin


“As the importance of storytelling continues, 2015 will bring a stronger emphasis on the use of measurement to provide meaningful content to the right audiences using digital and traditional media. This will include a strong emphasis on strategic content creation; and visual, unbranded content that engages stakeholders on a local level will be most successful. Advances in digital media, including mobile, wearables, augmented reality and the Internet of things will also bring opportunities for us to shine.” 

Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Public Relations at Penn State University, Chair of PRSA Educators Academy


“There are two PR trends that will be huge in 2015: visual storytelling and diverse branded content. Storytelling and audience persuasion have always been defining strengths of public relations. However, now there is more overlap and/or enhancement of the storytelling with diversity and inclusion angles in content marketing. The content has to be strategic, as it is branded content that plays smoothly with visual storytelling. As public relations continues to evolve into an all-encompassing practice, content production and storytelling will be a driving force of influence.”

Y’Anad Burrell, CEO of Glass House Communications, President-Elect of PRSA San Francisco Chapter


“As technology makes integrated communication easier and more powerful than ever, PR professionals’ role as principled counsel to boards of trustees, executives and key stakeholders will be critical. Communicating corporate integrity will be central to any organization’s business development success. On the horizon for 2015, I see more efforts to improve integrity in business development strategy through executive practice of PR standards.”

Tara Payne, Vice President of College Planning & Community Engagement at The NHHEAF Network Organizations, President of PRSA Yankee Chapter


“Integration with marketing — the lines between public relations and marketing are blurring as the demand for integrated campaigns escalates so that brands present a consistent message. Multiplatform campaigns — as the number of platforms continues to increase, specifically within social media, so does the demand to build campaigns that work across platforms to reach the widest audience possible. Focus on millennials — as this group becomes more established as ‘adults,’ they have become a target for brands; therefore, so have PR campaigns. Understanding this audience is key to getting placements that are about them and target them.”

Jessica Noonan, Client Executive at Burson-Marsteller, Member-at-Large of PRSA New Professionals Section


“Customization of social responsibility — younger, multicultural audiences are looking for purpose in every aspect of their life, including producers of their products. They’re making choices based on the social investments of the companies who make them. It’s no longer an asset for companies to support universally accepted causes. They need to be customized to what’s most important to the buyer. That requires a sophisticated vetting process, but social media and digital platforms have shown the way. Young consumers are brand-loyal to what matters most to them.”

Hugo Balta, Senior Director of Multicultural Content at ESPN, Co-founder of Latino Multimedia Communicators


“Social media analytics — there is still room to grow in social media measurement and how it’s interpreted in understanding a client’s audience. Diversity — the population is diverse, so it’s time that our campaigns become more diverse. There have been too many campaigns that got it wrong when it comes to targeting the diverse population. Content creation — as PR professionals, we will need to continue to come up with creative and compelling content. The everyday consumer is smart and will see through weak content strategies. It will be up to professionals to read trends and integrate that with the brand.

Jade Stevens, Special Projects Manager at LAGRANT COMMUNICATIONS and KLH & Associates, President of PRSA-LA Young Professionals


“While we’ve become experts at fast-paced social communications, social networks will become ‘pay to play,’ choking off organic reach in favor of paid strategies. Practitioners need to focus on core tactics of our craft — research, brand reputation management, clear messaging and responsive communications. Our tactics must highlight a company’s authentic brand identity, stand out in a world of paid marketing chatter and drive audiences to channels we control. Our campaigns have to engage people to help companies and clients respond to the needs of stakeholders.” 

Stafford Wood, APR, Business Development Partner at Covalent Logic, President of PRSA Baton Rouge Chapter


“An emerging trend that continues to come to the forefront within agencies is the need for counsel to clients on an array of topics. I see 2015 as the shift from a practitioner with a single specialty to one who acts as a fully integrated counselor for their client’s business. This is someone who is able to resolve a business situation with the best initiatives in traditional and digital public relations, social media engagement and content marketing strategies, all while delivering an exceptional customer experience and measurable results.” 

Christian Hunter, APR, Account Director at Fahlgren Mortine, President of PRSA Greater Cleveland Chapter


“Honing in on personalization with target audiences — while it should be about quality over quantity, we’re going to see companies take that extra step and personalize their message to individuals or select groups. We’ve seen this with Coca-Cola and their name campaign, but this trend is going to go further with social media content, blogs and emails catered to their receiver. It won’t be about how much and how fast we’re pushing things out, but about how we can make it unique enough to connect with its audience.” 

Rebecca Potzner, Twist on PR blogger, Social Media Strategist at Game Day Communications


“The PR culture within travel and tourism is witnessing an ongoing shift from showcasing the minute details to illustrating extraordinary experiences. Showcasing the amenities and features of your locale — be it a city, hotel or attraction — is no longer relevant if not explained in terms of overall visitor experience. Travelers today, including media, want experiential travels that create the stories of a lifetime. We must be able to showcase these through visually creative storytelling for print, broadcast and, most important, today’s online world.” 

Jeffrey Ory, APR, ABC, President at il Stratega, Chair of PRSA Travel & Tourism Section


“Content creation and curation will continue to grow in importance for public relations in 2015. What we’ll also see — as evidenced by the recent co-branded study we conducted with The Economist — is a greater effort by marketers to create more informative and insightful content that will help audiences make decisions. Also, we’ll see a rise in the use of qualitative research to understand target audiences. More marketers will set aside time and resources to experience their brand firsthand, from the outside in. This will help unearth insights to develop more salient content.” 

Steve Cody, Co-founder and CEO at Peppercomm


Marshall Thompson says:

All of the comments have two things in common - 1. accountability; and 2. cross-platform content creation and video in the interest of our clients. As a PRSA member and owner at PRVIDEO.TV in Malibu, this suits us just fine. Have a great New Year, everybody!

Jan. 11, 2015

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