The Changing Landscape of Strategic Communications

Where is the communications industry headed? And how can PR professionals and businesses stay ahead of the curve? We’ve laid out the top four changes in strategic communications.

  1. Industry Consolidation

Like the rest of the global economy, the public relations and communications industry is consolidating. The rise of the solopreneur, virtual firms, and firms comprised of freelancers mean there are more firms than ever to choose from. PR professionals are being pushed more and more to quantify the value of public relations. This is a huge value-add for any company seeking out a PR or communications firm. A high-quality firm can – and should – be able to differentiate itself from the pack through clear deliverables and tangible results.

  1. PESO model

The introduction of social media and access to better data has led to wide-scale adaptation of the PESO model. If you aren’t already aware, PESO stands for Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media. Quality PR practitioners, especially senior leadership, float effortlessly through these four content channels.

As newsrooms are being further decimated by dwindling bottom lines, industry networks and interest groups are creating their own media channels for niche audiences. In the past few years, these niches have narrowed even more through the use of influencer marketing. A public relations expert knows to aim for the channels that will drive the most sales, not just the ones that reach the most people.

  1. Cause Marketing

A growing number of companies are engaging in cause marketing, aligning themselves for or against a cause. Benefits include greater publicity and improved customer relations which in turn lands more sales. However, depending on the chosen cause, it can lead to more controversy rather than more business. Recent cause marketing campaigns include: Patagonia Action Works which encourages customers to get involved with environmental activism in their community and Magpul Industries which handed out hundreds of free ammo rounds before the implementation of new gun control legislation in Colorado. Companies need to be keenly aware of their target markets, otherwise cause marketing can cause you to lose customers, instead of gain them.

  1. Community Engagement

The communications industry has placed a greater emphasis on community engagement and issue management in recent years. Regulatory affairs affect everyone and companies are leaning on their public relations teams to engage with issues and communities. If you don’t engage in policy discussions somehow, they will engage you, whether on the local, state, federal, or international field. Public relations professionals must be politically aware, socially engaged, and savvy about helping their clients predict the next big wave of sentiment.

These are the top 4 trends for PR professionals. What other patterns are you seeing in your industry?