If you follow the PR industry closely, you've likely noticed that the flood of 2018 prediction articles has already begun.
If you read any of them, you’ll know that in 2018, one or all of Blockchain, AI, nefarious influencers, fake news lovers, paid media, machine learning and the lack of measurement are going to completely turn the PR world upside down.
I don’t deny our industry is in constant flux. I’d even argue that’s more true now than ever before. Still, I find these annual prediction articles to be so vague that it’s hard to put any stock in them. For example, will AI actually affect my life by this time next year? And if so, how? I’m calling it now– no, it will not. And not anytime soon.
While the benefit of flavour-of-the-moment predictions is questionable at best, I believe there are a few core things that will benefit PR professionals both today and well into the future.
I recently read an article about how just about everyone can see huge improvements in anything they do by continuing to focus on the basics, and how few of us really bother doing that. The author cites a performance coach who overhears a golfer talking about the cutting-edge clubs he just acquired in a bid to up his golf game. The coach walked over and told him bluntly that losing 20 pounds would have a far bigger bigger and immediate.
His point: invest in the best clubs only after you’ve really taken care of the foundational building blocks.
The same is true in PR. Yes, we need to stay sharp and go outside our comfort zone, but the core skills – what anyone in PR truly needs to succeed – have barely changed since the day I started doing the job.
With that in mind, here are the trends I intend to focus on in 2018.
1. Industry Knowledge
Like you, I get busy. But I’m going to make a point to read even more over the next 12 months. And not just news – I’m going to seek out every industry blog, business article, marketing whitepaper, business book, you name it. If it looks like something I can learn from, I’m going to read it. If you’re not diving deep and staying current, it’s going to show in your work. You’ll create content that’s not plugged into the zeitgeist, and pitch things that don’t feel timely.
2. Meeting People
I hate the term “networking.” It evokes images of awkward cocktail events, business cards and name tags with markers. But I love eating lunch and having coffee. So make it a point to avoid doing those things alone as much as possible. Lunches and coffees with people lead to discussions, which leads to ideas, and so on.
This is especially important when you’re a one-person comms operation. Get out there and create your own virtual agency of people with which to discuss ideas. Do you work in an agency? Go meet people who work in different roles within your client company. Or an old colleague. Connect with industry associations, related non-profits, vendors, students…. the list is endless.
3. Being Interesting
Take a serious look at what you or your company is putting out there. Is it on the mark, but boring? Well written, but fluffy? Just plain terrible? Then resolve to fix it. Our business has no shortage “content specialists” who know how to put a smile on the face of people inside a company’s walls – but few others. Aim to be interesting, emotional, provocative, entertaining, and compelling – and go all-in on writing.
4. Cutting dead wood
Let’s face it – we all have that one social channel that we only tell people about with the caveat that it’s badly out of date. The time for ambivalence is over. Lots of organizations maintain Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and a blog, and some even need and warrant it. Many don’t.
So, take a hard look at where you are, and decide to do it right. If you’re blogging, don’t make it the thing you do at the last minute so you can check the box. Write the best blog you can. Is your last YouTube video from 2014? Do something about it – or take the link off your homepage.
5. Taking Control
We’ve all heard the gripes. Marketing has all the budget. I can’t make that hire. I have plans no one will sign off on.
Here’s a tough truth: almost no one else in the organization outside your immediate colleagues really knows what you do. I bet many see you as the person who drafts press releases and deals with media, and plans events. You do way more than that. And if they’re not currently seeing you do it, they should.
You’re the only person tasked with stepping back and looking at your company’s reputation and impact of the brand across all audiences. Show it by being truly strategic.
So, by all means, keep AI on your radar. But if you any of the situations I described sound familiar, join me and make 2018 the year of nailing the basics.
Did I miss any skills? Agree, disagree? Share your thoughts.