The nature of public relations and marketing communications has certainly become more of an integrated approach as of late. Since the digital revolution, departments at various companies, agencies, and firms have been working closely together to identify the most effective digital strategy for a brand to succeed. Whether it is through search engine optimization (SEO), paid search (SEM), email marketing, artificial intelligence, or the use of a more omni-channel approach, integration is at the heart of it all.
Let's break it down. An integrated marketing communications approach encompasses elements of both public relations and advertising to optimize results for a brand. Digital technologies and platforms have tremendously shaped the ways in which consumers engage and interact with brands. So, when it comes to 2019 trends in public relations and marketing communications, you guessed it; there is no shortage of possibilities when innovation meets digitization.
The first trend to watch out for is the implementation and use of artificial intelligence. AI represents the science of computer-based systems and machine-based learning that is used to complete human-like tasks through robotics, voice activation, self-driving vehicles, and much more. Some brands and companies have already begun to use AI as a tool to further develop their business and lead their industries; however, AI is still in its infancy. Many marketers understand that AI exists, yet few brands and companies have learned the specifics of the tool and how it can benefit the products and services they offer.
Another trend to be on the lookout for is more brand involvement with corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR refers to partner initiatives that brands, companies, or organizations align with to demonstrate social responsibility and accountability. Two examples of CSR include partnering with a nonprofit that promotes an economically friendly or sustainable environment and co-hosting campaign initiatives for social causes. When brands engage in CSR and promote something bigger than themselves through social support, it demonstrates more brand authenticity. This can often lead to brand loyalty among consumers who feel passionately about their efforts.
The last trend to be mindful of this year is effective reputation and crisis management. Brands sometimes make mistakes. With the pervasiveness of social media and the ability to spread stories and news in just seconds, there has never been a more critical time for crisis communication professionals to saddle up! Now, crises for a brand are not necessarily full-blown crises at all times; there's also negative electronic word-of-mouth. Which is the commenting, liking, or sharing of any poor experience with a product or service. Regardless of whether the situation is a full crisis or minor para-crisis, brands must be equipped with the proper personnel. They must also have the tools to both manage the situation and monitor comments in the future.
What exactly does AI look like? Some of the most common AI services that consumers are most familiar with include Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Google's voice-activation search tool. The voice-search industry has boomed since 2017. Brands are learning new ways to introduce voice activation into the consumer experience. Consumers are drawn to voice activation services and search tools because of their convenience and easy navigation. Speech recognition and activation services have allowed consumers to easily access their favorite songs or directions to a new location. Not only that, but they are also able to schedule events and reminders, while listening to breaking news. Consumers are increasingly concerned with the delivery speed for their requested information. They want to accomplish what they need to in as little time as possible, and AI is allowing them to!
Another AI example lies within your Netflix account. Everyone's favorite binge watching network. Remember the last time Netflix recommended a new movie or series for you to watch? That was the work of AI. Various algorithms and predictive technologies allow for brands to develop more customized viewing experiences for consumers. The way we see it, customization is the biggest word of 2019 for the PR and marketing communications industry.
Because consumers are more inclined to interact with content that is relevant and of interest to them, mass emails might not be doing the trick anymore. Companies are now discovering that the most effective way to reach their consumer is through the use of personalized messages. Research and data are being used to deliver better content and experiences to all types of consumers. How cool is that? What could be better than having relevant content sent directly to you via mobile device, social media, or email?
There you have it—the PR and marketing communications breakdown for this year! Keep an eye out for these trends and other new approaches. As you know, this industry changes by the minute!