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2019 PRedictions: Digital is learning to act its age

This blog is part of our PRedictions series, a collection of posts from PR and communications leaders offering insights, advice, and opinions on how our industry can grow in 2019. To view our full list of 2019 PRedictions, click here. Rachel Sharpe, Digital Content Executive, spottydog communications, predicts: 

Digital maturity is moving up the agenda for brands and their communications teams. Digital skills are high on the list of professional development priorities, and more brands are realising that investing in digital and content marketing is now non-negotiable. That’s why 2019 will see a shift to companies becoming smarter and more sophisticated with their digital communications, across channels.

As an agency, at spottydog communications we’re already seeing evidence of this in the briefs we’re receiving. There’s a need to upskill quickly, reflected in the high number of requests we’ve been getting to run social media training sessions for our clients who want to ensure their in-house teams are up to speed.

Brands will get smarter and speedier at managing social media crises, following this year’s dramatic increase in the influence of the social complaint. Customer service enquiries can quickly escalate into brand boycotts and headlines in the national and regional press. That means we’ll be working increasingly closely with customer service and human resources teams to help clients respond in a timely, transparent and brand-appropriate way to mitigate concerns, inform the public and provide support to staff.

LinkedIn will be top dog for employer branding spend next year. As Facebook matures, Instagram advertising budgets have grown, but in the meantime, LinkedIn has leapfrogged them both to become a reputation leader. In 2018 many clients approached us to provide advice on how to build and maintain a personal brand, engage employees to become ambassadors on LinkedIn and how to advertise effectively on the platform. After a website, mastering LinkedIn is next on the list for thought-leaders, marketing teams and those that need to mobilise their sales force in 2019.

Finally, voice will be making itself heard (pun intended). We expect to see continued growth in voice content and search in 2019, in response to changing consumer media consumption habits. That goes for internal communications too - we’ve been exploring creating voice content for a number of our clients and predict that we’ll see podcasts move to centre stage for company briefings. People expect brands to deliver rich, high-quality content across channels - it will be interesting to see the impact of the West Midlands 5G testbed and how the region harnesses the opportunity for ultra-fast mobile streaming.