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ECCO Spain | Canela PR : What’s on the horizon for Public Relations in 2017?

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Personalised media consumption, a crisis in conventional advertising, the amplification of contents, the influence of the dark social in social media networks and the use of the P.R. in personal branding are my predictions for the most prominent PR trends this year.

As ever in our industry, this year also will no doubt bring many important changes to the way we do our business. It’s not always easy to predict what’s going to happen, who at the beginning of 2016 would have thought that by the end of the year Europe would be breaking up and restructuring itself or that Trump would be the President of the States? But as fortune favours the brave I am going to go out on a limb and make the following predictions…

Personalised media consumption
The arrival of on-demand video services such as HBO or Netflix has brought on not only hours of unbridled series-bingeing on sofas but also the death knoll for the communication to the masses and the value of traditional advertising. The audience data of people consuming different content throught differnet media channels at the same time is making history. In the last decade, the sale of daily newspapers has decreased by 9% according to AEDE, while the consumption of media online has grown by 12.7%; linear television already represents only 51% of the Spanish television consumption, while digital TV, Internet TV and on-demand video continue to grow. Radio is also affected with a fall of 600,000 listeners according to the latest EGM data, while correspondingly personalised radio and podcasts now generates 24% of radio consumption. These important changes in consumption will make reaching audiences even harder both for advertisers and public relations practitioners.

Crisis in Conventional advertising
The fragmentation in media consumption has ineviatbly caused a crisis in conventional advertising. Personalised media consumption means it now makes less sense to invest in big advertising campaigns in major media outlets in prime time… not least because a considerable part of the audience is not seeing them. A recent example is the advertisment of the Christmas lottery in Spain, which was launched on television, but registered 6 million hits on YouTube thanks to its diffusion in social networks and advertising platforms. The weakening of the value of traditional advertising offers a significant opportunity in 2017 to public relations agencies.

Amplification of contents
If advertising needs to be reinvented in order to remain effective, content also needs to do so. 94.6% of Spanish companies carry out content marketing, according to a report by Hoyreka!. However, 75% of the articles published on the Internet don’t generate any interaction (comments, shares, etc.) in accordance with another study of BuzzSumo and Moz. This means that companies spend money in producing content that people don’t read or are not interested in. In part this is a problem of quality, but also of quantity: each day thousands of new contents are published and standing out from the crowd is difficult. For that reason, I predict that the use of strategies for the amplification of contents will gain importance in 2017. Amplifaction of contents means promoting content published on multiple channels to ensure a wider difussion. It can be done with Influencers help, related content platforms (suggestions of articles that appear at the bottom while you read other news) or even through paid advertising. Often this is combined with a decrease in the number of publications, to focus efforts on promoting them better. This strategy means less content and a greater diffusion, has worked for a number of companies, Intel, for example has doubled the visits to its iQ content portal.

Threats to social media
Social networks are currently most companies’ favourite channel to share content. But this is likely to be coming to an end soon due to three threats against social networks that will be accentuated in 2017: quitting, messaging applications and the dark social. It is true that massive closures of accounts are not taking place in social networks, but according to IAB Spain, time invested in using the most popular platforms and the frequency of visits have fallen. It is significant that the only platform which has grown in Spain (along with Spotify) is WhatsApp, a private messaging service between users. It is also striking that several social networks have added functions so that the content can be erased soon as it has been published, in the style of Snapchat. This indicates a growth of what is being referred to as dark social, i.e., the social activity carried out privately, which has arisen as a reaction to the concern for privacy caused by Big Data.This makes it difficult to track a campaign on social networks and forces brands and agencies to seek new strategies to engage consumers.

The rise of PR in personal branding
My final prediction for 2017 is that we will see many more PR tactics applied in personal branding. We live in a new culture of professional mobility, entrepreneurship, business based on Internet. This has been recognized by Forbes magazine as ‘the freelance economy’. It is estimated that in 2020, 50% of the population of the United States will work on their own. And these professionals (writers, artists, consultants, executives, advisors, experts in training, etc.) have discovered the power of public relations to reach their target audience effectively. Therefore, they will continue to make the most of public relations activities becoming more ambitious and this will create a whole new growth market for the public relations sector.

So this year promises to be an intense one in our sector. We will continue to see the transformation of the media and advertising sector, the evolution in the use of contents and social networks and the new profiles of customers opening new horizons in communication. As PR agencies and professionals we are fortunate to experience and participate in so many exciting changes let’s hope we can adapt accordingly.

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