One of the scariest and most exciting things for any professional to consider is where their industry is going. For PR professionals, the answer will always involve a razor-sharp focus on developing technology and audiences.
According to Jim Weiss, PR of the future will shift its focus from earned and unpaid media to a variety of digital and mobile vehicles that will offer incredibly precise information about the target audiences. Additionally, these audiences will not be segmented by demographics as much as they will be targeted by conversation topic.
In the age of new media and big data, analytical information for audiences will become increasingly precise and multi-dimensional, allowing professionals to not only target audiences but also those who are driving conversations. PR professionals of the future will also have the ability to determine what information these conversation drivers are seeking and deliver this information with unprecedented speed, accuracy and agility.
Michael Sebastian’s report from South by Southwest in 2011 mirrored many of Weiss’ major points, indicating that PR will occur on a smaller, more focused scale with an increased emphasis on conversation topics and a decreased emphasis on demographics. Additionally, the report states that the customer service element, which has always been related to PR efforts, will become increasingly important. This is especially true as the industry becomes more proactive in shaping the perception of brands.
Another point shared by both articles is the necessity of social media training for organizations as well as individuals. Successful organizations will have social media guidelines that are flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing best practices for the medium. These guidelines should allow professionals to exercise sound judgment while adapting to new and rapidly-changing technology.
Some criticism of these ideas claims that although these are sound predictions for consumer brands, B2B public relations has not been as quick to evolve and may be behind the curve. If this is true, PR professionals should be observant of changes throughout the industry to apply as B2B communications play catch up.