As we begin the new year we usually like to take stock of the previous year and look ahead to trends what will have an impact on our sector. In 2018, we predict that the following things will make their mark on the way we practice public relations: the fight back against fake news; the blockchain; the integration of the press office and social networks Social Relations; the rise of microinfluencers; and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Read on if you want know more about these trends.
Five PR trends to look out for in 2018
Finally a reaction against fake news
In 2017, the debate about fake news, false news, hoaxes, “post-truth” or whatever you want to call it, reached as far as the United States Senate, the European Union and the Congress of Deputies of Spain. And little wonder: if we do not sort this problem out, by 2022 most of the information we will consume will be false, according to Gartner. That said, it does seem that the tide is beginning to turn, last year, Germany approved a law that allows a fine of up to 50 million euro if media and platforms do not eliminate false news quickly.
They have also taken note of companies such as Facebook, which will restrict the advertising of the pages that disseminate false news. In addition, Twitter, Google and some other online media are considering creating “confidence indicators” to assess the reliability of the news they publish.
Any initiative in this regard will be welcomed by governments, citizens and brands affected by fake news. Currently, many companies have experienced their reputations damaged by falsehoods published by online media, social networks and opinion sites. Not even the best public relations office would be able to counteract these negative impacts not least because lying on the Internet remains protected by impunity and anonymity.
Blockchain: the revolution has just begun
One of the solutions to the plague of the fake news may come from another trend that we predict will be in fashion in 2018: blockchain technology. The system of blockchains emerged with virtual currencies like Bitcoin. But it has more many applications than virtual currency which we think we will begin to see in action this year, thanks to the advantages offered by its decentralization and the impossibility of falsifying information.
This allows a large number of uses in marketing and communication:
- Users will be able to verify the authenticity of a news and its source.
- Advertisers will be able to directly target real and verified consumers.
- Consumers will be able to control what personal information is distributed on the Internet.
- It will also be possible to block virtually all online advertising except the authorized one.
- Falsifying a brand will be impossible because we can verify the offers with a click.
These are some of the possibilities offered by blockchain technology and its applications will reach almost all sectors: banking, services, e-commerce, public administration, technology, collaborative economy … A whole revolution is waiting to start.
Neither press office nor community management: “Social Relations” has arrived
In 2018, more and more companies will be faced with the following dilemma: is it more profitable to invest in press offices or in community management? The decrease in media influence, the fragmentation of audiences and the loss of credibility of journalism all play against traditional public relations. Meanwhile, although they also face threats, social networks continue to gain ground in unsuspected areas. For example, recently we learned that a hotel in Mallorca offers customers a social media manager to advise them on sharing photos and videos of their vacations on social networks.
In our opinion, brands should not have to choose between media or social networks. Instead, the current trend is to combine both types of channels into a comprehensive strategy, directed by the same department or communication agency. As the expert Catriona Pollard points out, while media communication has more impact and credibility, social networks allow creating personalized relationships with users. Smart brands should develop communication strategies that include both social networks and public relations. What we refer to as “Social Relations“.
Microinfluencers will be the great stars
For years we have talked about the importance of working with influencers for brands. However, lately the bubble of influencers has deflated a bit because companies have discovered that sometimes they are not quite as influential as they (or their agents) say … To the controversies generated by the purchase of followers and the use of “bots” in networks like Instagram, scandals have also been added to this deflation such as as the false travel blogger unmasked by the Daily Mail.
Given this panorama, in 2018 we predict that the microinfluencers will gain prominence. They are influential people in their niche, who have a smaller community of followers compared to the big influencers, but they create more engagement and as such have more credibility. Brands are realizing that it can be more profitable to invest in ten microinfluencers with 10,000 loyal fans, than to devote their entire budget to dazzle a celebrity with 100,000 loyal followers who are bombarded day and night with advertising from their sponsors.
GDPR will, without doubt, change the way you do marketing
Finally, in 2018 there will be a new law that concerns us all: brands, agencies, social networks … The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in May and will affect all commercial communications in the European Union directed to its citizens. We are all slowly coming to terms with the enormous changes that this regulation will mean.
We have until May to get ourselves organized. For example: it will no longer be enough to inform consumers that the company collects and processes their data, but will have to explain why it does so (for example, to send a newsletter) and ask for their explicit consent; data processing systems must be documented and have qualified managers; If a data breach occurs, companies must inform the authorities and those affected in less than 72 hours. And the fines in case of default may reach … up to 20 million euros!
Throughout 2018, in our blog Etcétera we will expand the information on these trends and analyze their evolution. Stay tuned.