As we reluctantly pack away our thongs and bathers, don our city clothes and head back to the office after a well-earned summer break, our gaze inevitably turns to the horizon.

What will be the top communications and public relations trends for 2018 and how we can stay ahead of the curve? What does the upcoming year hold and what should we be doing to get the best possible results from our PR?

After talking to several key communications futurists and taking a look at what some of our industry gurus have to say about the next 12 months, here are some of the conclusions I have reached:

Trend 1 – Continued focus on thought-leadership

An emerging trend in 2017, thought leadership will continue to pick up momentum over the coming year with more and more business leaders and owners, entrepreneurs and academics striving to become informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise.

As you are doubtless aware, the key premise of thought leadership is that demonstrating you are an authority on a particular subject or topic will earn you the attention, trust and confidence of your audience. Being an acknowledged thought leader will make you more appealing to conference organisers, investors, journalists and customers. It will also get your greater access to the right people who can help you make things happen and further your ambitions and secure you invitations to join corporate boards, serve on government commissions or participate in industry-wide committees.

During 2018 expect to see many more senior executives and other aspiring thought leaders increasingly publish articles, blog posts, email newsletters and videos that educate and inform clients and potential clients as well as their industry at large.

One of the big changes on the corporate front will be the growing realisation that thought leadership need not be the exclusive terrain of CEOs, CMOs and senior executives.  People with expertise outside the C-suite can be thought leaders as well. Not only will this change free up senior executives but it will prove to be a valuable mechanism for investing in emerging leaders, not to mention creating a greater diversity of thought leadership conversations.

What taking thought leadership beyond the C-suite will mean for businesses is that you, the executive team will need to be far more open-minded about handing the mantle on to other people across your organisation. You will also need to ensure these budding thought leaders are adequately trained up for the role and that they become powerful ambassadors for the organisation.

Trend 2 – Media coverage will continue to be important

Given the shrinking media landscape, securing publicity will be significantly more difficult and the stories that secure coverage will increasingly be about issues that have an impact on a large group of the population.

Suffice to say, research-based and data-driven stories, emerging trends, controversy and investigative pieces will win hands up each time.

However, for those who successfully land publicity, the rewards will be truly worthwhile.

Let’s face it; media coverage remains one of the best mechanisms for getting your name out there in a flash. It also has the added benefit of consolidating your company’s image as best brand in business due to the third-party media validation. This is something that the best marketing or content campaign could never hope to achieve!

Trend 3 – Businesses will no longer shy away from divisive issues

While historically, companies have studiously avoiding voicing their views, taking sides or taking action on socio-political issues, this is increasingly no longer the case.

Think of the recent Australian same-sex marriage survey. Over 660 corporations and 1,715 organisations publicly pledged their support for the “Yes” campaign, something that would be have been unheard 5-10 years ago.

However, today’s times demand it. While speaking out on meaningful issues can be risky, if done well, your brand reputation can be rewarded.

So in 2018 expect many more brands to begin taking a stand and communicating that stand, and in the process more closely aligning themselves with what consumers believe their brand stands for.

Avoiding controversial issues will not be tolerated by the consumer and brands will need to have their messages prepared well in advance.

Trend 4 – Growing emergence of content hubs and ‘watering holes’

In response to the changing media landscape, brands will continue investing in their owned digital channels (websites and social media platforms) to build visibility with their target audiences, with creative content such as interactive videos and engaging posts becoming even more crucial to establishing brand identity during 2018.

This year will also see the continued emergence of content “watering holes”, online places or content hubs where customers, prospects and influencers can secure all they need on a specific topic without having to laboriously trawl the net.

Watering holes will provide advice and information, provide vital forums for asking questions, having conversations, engaging in dialogue or looking for reassurance, help, support or guidance.

However for your brand to become an acknowledged source of valuable industry information, you will need to determine what it is that your potential clients are searching for online, and whether or not your competitors are meeting these needs. You will also need to ensure you utilise the services of your company experts and thought leaders to discuss and solve customer problems.

Remember, only experts have the credibility to achieve this, as people (not brands) solve problems.

Trend 5 – Video will be more impactful than ever

On average people view one video a day so it comes as no surprise that video will be bigger than ever in 2018.

What this means is that some of the most effective PR and communications campaigns – internal and external – will incorporate videos and there’s good reason for that: static graphics and copy simply aren’t enough on their own to persuade people to take action.

Video makes it easier for audiences to see, feel and make sense of the information you’re sharing.

So plan to make video marketing a priority this year!

If you are interested in thought leadership coaching, need help with your content or publicity we’d love to talk with you. To get in touch, contact Wendy at wendy@parkerpublicrelations.com.au

 

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