As we transition towards another new year, the public relations industry will endure shifts that further blur the previously-defined lines of our profession. Once purely focused on news generation and media relations, public relations now includes influencer marketing, content creation, brand partnerships, data analytics, and thought leadership, among a host of other initiatives that play a role in shaping brands. As PR never allows for a dull moment, we’re delighted to enjoy a few, rare quiet ones during which to deliver CGPR’s “Top 5” 2019 public relations industry predictions:

Nano-Influencers will gain greater traction (and respect).

Some brands remain mesmerized by the reach of a Kardashian, yet what began as big-league influencer marketing, has shifted. Original “influencers” learned prestige due to celebrity status or substantial reach/followers. However, once reports of fake and bot follower inflation surfaced (aka ‘fake reach’), influencer credibility quickly came into question. Moving into 2019, nano-influencers (so named due to fewer than 1,000 genuine followers) are being more aggressively courted by brands due to their success in cultivating meaningful relationships with an intimate but engaged following that maintains values directly aligned with specific brands and their mission.  The genuine authenticity of the nano-influencer distinguishes them from celebrity endorsers, who provide a much-needed vehicle for ambassador programs, personal brand relationships and consistent engagement.  Brands grow increasingly aware of how easily Gen Z and millennial consumers sniff out paid placements. Nano-influencers, who many treat as a trusted friend, will support brand efforts to establish valuable transparency.

Public Relations Predictions for 2019PR pros stop fearing numbers and let statistics sing.

Impressions, while still valuable, are today just one measure of success. The convergence of print, digital and broadcast media alongside social influencer and digital campaigns, results in a bevy of analytics, some of which are relevant, while others, not. As brands and businesses demand greater measurement, PR professionals are responsible not only for properly-articulated, timed and targeted messages, they must also measure and interpret statistical results of those engagements (PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned) and how that data impacts business objectives.

Brands will help shape trends and America’s moral compass.

Having clients at the forefront of sustainability, supply-chain responsibility, and corporate philanthropy, CGPR understands well the role brands play in consumer activity. The days of sitting quietly on the sidelines are over as consumers demand businesses take a position on relevant issues—be they environmental, social or political. Brands that smartly align themselves meaningfully stand to gain valuable credibility, while those that posture themselves for publicity sake, ultimately lose it. Corporate messaging on issues therefore have the potential for becoming a roadmap for America’s evolving moral compass, and brands, the architects, when reinforcing the values held by their customers.

Social platforms lose their luster.

Courtesy of Facebook’s privacy scandal, the rapid evolution of platforms, and ill-defined rules about use personal data, the angelic halo surrounding social platforms has tarnished. Consumers tired of “clickbait” and pervasive fake news are clamoring for trusted editorial content and a return to “unbreaking,” fact-checked, and quality news delivering not just content, but context.To be successful, brands will need to align messaging and content with authentic initiatives and meaningful narratives, a subset of which may be brand journalism.

Traditional media isn’t dead, it’s evolving.

While there certainly has been volatility in the world of print, both with newspapers and magazines, some of the year’s biggest news stories have been broken by national newspapers and magazines– The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to name a few. The Harvey Weinstein saga, the Trump campaign payoff scandal, and the CBS/Les Moonves coverup are proof that investigative reporting can find (and deserves) a home. While plenty of consumers use hashtags to grab news of note, there still exist a population that prefers the “crack” of a freshly-pressed newspaper. The transition to digital has perpetuated the belief that “traditional” media is amid descent, when in reality, digital strategies (podcasts, IGTV, Tweetups) instead extend the reach of traditional content. Broad availability of content across an array of platforms ensures that personal preference can be served. The secret however lays in a PR pro’s deep understanding of how and when to successfully reach, engage and successfully collaborate with each individual media property. 

Of all the trends rippling across the public relations industry, what cannot be sidestepped is the absolute necessity for brand transparency. Earning it takes consistency in product, approach, and foundational DNA. It’s an exciting phase where brands have tremendous opportunity to showcase across-the-board excellence, something everyone desires and deserves.

If your business seeks greater visibility in 2019 or would benefit from the counsel of a PR professional, visit our site to learn how CGPR has become the preferred PR partner for brands large and small.