Where should your public relations and marketing efforts be focussed in 2020? Convergence predicts the following will be key trends for companies to consider.
Transparency, accountability and truthfulness
In the world of ‘fake news’ and self-appointed (yet often very effective and influential) digital citizen watch-dogs, communications ‘spin’ is an increasingly risky strategy. Top organisations define their point of difference by building trust. Telling your story authentically and in ways that relate to consumers’ personal experiences is a strategy that will get your brand cut-through and clarity in the global fog of disinformation.
Facts and figures aren’t persuasive, emotion is
Ever wondered why ‘proving’ your message or argument logically and scientifically doesn’t seem to bring about the change or support you’re seeking? Most people think with their ‘heart’ not their head; a situation greatly exacerbated by social media. As communications specialists we increasingly advise our clients on how to engage emotionally with their target audiences to get cut-through.
Include your communications team at the business strategy table
Telling the company story is more important than ever to meet strategic goals. Top performing businesses no longer develop strategy and then ask their communications teams to deliver on it, they involve communications in the initial planning. The strategic thinking capacity of top communications performers is recognised for its value at the top table, not just in the ‘delivery’ department.
Form a partnership with your communications consultants
Related to the point above, communications consultancies are no longer perceived as external contractors, they are seen as a crucial part of the team. This not only builds trust and transparency between the agency and the organisation or company, it helps the communications team create more effective campaigns that generate trust and effective engagement with external audiences.
Not so long ago communications was considered to be unmeasurable, because it frequently works within the fields of opinion, perception and emotion. Clients were expected to ‘trust’ that communications providers knew their job and would get it right ‘most of the time’. Not so now. We put a lot of work into building performance measurement into our services. If your communications advisor says measurement is not possible, look for another advisor!
Audio-visual messaging is key and interaction is the name of the game
In the digital age of short attention spans, text alone is unlikely to deliver the cut-through and follow-up clients need. Even print newspapers prefer to get video from PR firms for their news-site web pages. Quality communications plans now require audio-visual components designed for their target audiences. Better still, communications that is audio-visual AND interactive, allowing the audience to participate, is proving increasingly effective.
The broad spectrum, mass market communications campaign with the same messages and delivery mechanisms for all audiences is, if not dead, certainly having to be highly modified to remain effective. In this digital age, marketing opportunities are huge and complex. Businesses increasingly use communications to identify very niche markets that can be more effectively targeted.
Influencers are increasingly ‘micro’
Perhaps ironically, broad spectrum influencers who had mass appeal, but no real connection to the product or service they were marketing, are losing influence. Instead, micro-influencers are the new conduit to your niche audiences. Establishing a partnership with a micro-influencer who is actively involved in your service or product – even if they only have, say, 50,000 followers – will probably have more influence for you than a famous influencer, with half a million followers, who has no real connection to you, your product or service.
Opinion articles and advertorials
Marketing that looks like news continues to grow in use and effectiveness. With the number of reporters and newsrooms shrinking, there’s more opportunity for communications writers to fill the gap. Well-crafted, to-the-point and newsworthy opinion pieces written for you by your communications advisor find ready placement in news media; as do clever, engaging advertorials that use customer-focussed emotional hooks to engage with their audience.
Take a stand with your brand
Did you notice the number of ‘cause’ or ‘values’ related advertising hitting digital platforms leading up to Christmas 2019? We saw Christmas videos on such themes as gay families, being a great dad, climate change, plastic reduction and so on. These ‘brandstanding’ videos are being used increasingly by organisations and companies to establish themselves with key audiences by taking a stand on certain issues. It used to be thought that taking a stand would alienate some customers. Now the thinking is that in the age of niche marketing, brandstanding increases your appeal to the audiences you really want to engage with.