Change in the industry isn’t new. However, the pace of change has become somewhat colossal. I can say with absolute confidence that in my entire 20 years within the PR industry I have not seen anything like the change we’ve experienced in the past 5 years. There’s been a seismic shift in the way we communicate – and it’s exciting.
For 2017, here’s five thought starters that are on my radar to help navigate this ever-changing landscape continuing to deliver best in class comms:
1. Digital is the norm
Brands must have a clearly defined digital content strategy and ensure social media channels are being used effectively to communicate with customers. It’s no longer a "nice to have", but an integral part of brand comms that allows them to connect with their customers in real time – about real issues.
2. Screen matters
From small screens to big screens, remember where customers will be viewing brand information. Mobile will continue to grow as a necessary and vital part of seamless brand experiences.
3. Purpose at the heart
If influencer engagement was the buzzword of 2016, 2017 is all about being purpose driven. Consumers want to see authentic purpose as part of any brands ethos. For some brands such as Co-op, they have purpose and CSR baked into their brands, others however need to work harder to talk about how they give back to the community, environment and society as a whole. Purpose may well be in their DNA, but it still needs to be brought to the forefront of their comms strategy in 2017. Brands that win hearts and minds this year will have purpose at the heart of what they do.
4. Embrace innovative tech
From AR to VR alongside data and measurement tools to world first experiences using cutting-edge tech - to remain competitive and differentiated brands need to allow technological innovation and experiences to play an even larger role this year in delivering newsworthy brand activations. 21st century innovation develops monthly it seems and staying ahead of the innovation curve is key for companies as a whole – particularly ones that market to a millennial and younger audience group.
5. Be free and flexible
Retaining and developing the best talent is as important as ever. Brands and agenciesneed to embrace modern ways of working to keep talent happy, inspired and passionate. At M&C Saatchi PR, we have been rolling out ‘free-ranging’ for over 18 months now, encouraging talent to get into a fresh headspace - be it working outside in the local square, coffee shop or art gallery. As flexible working will continue to grow, businesses need to adapt and ensure people have the freedom to deliver best in class creative ideas and strategic solutions.
Safe to say, this year will no doubt see further change in how consumers and stakeholders interact with brands as well as across the wider marketing landscape. Nonetheless, I am particularly optimistic about the earned right PR has to be at the front and centre of this coming evolution. I predict great things for the future of our industry and the role of communications bring on 2017!