What PR trends will dominate in 2020?

15 January 2020, By Canela

A new year begins full of challenges in the world of public relations (PR), marketing and communication. What can we expect from 2020? From Canela PR, we are going to look at phenomena such as expert platforms which make their knowledge available to the media. Innovations such as automatically generated content and the growing weight of ephemeral content have also caught our eye as has the corporate podcast boom and the more natural SEO promoted by Google’s BERT algorithm. Do you want to know more about these PR trends?

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Put a (real) expert in your life

At a time when the role of influencers is being questioned, the figure of the expert is once again gaining importance. Using experts is a good resource to give strength and credibility to communication content. However, it is not always easy to reach them or to get exactly the kind of material we need (statements, data, opinions, etc.).

This is changing thanks to expert platforms like Helpareporter in English or Youcheck in Spanish. On these sites, journalists request the collaboration of experts to enrich their content, specifying the material they need and the deadline. On one hand, the experts have in these platforms a tool to make themselves known and to promote their personal brand. On the other, for PR agencies, it is also a good opportunity to position their clients’ spokespersons and achieve more coverage. All this is not free, of course: the sites usually charge a subscription to the experts to give them the opportunity to appear in the media.

Has this article has been written by a robot. Or not?

The boom in content marketing has skyrocketed the time, effort and money that companies spend on creating content. By 2020, investment in content marketing in Europe will exceed 2 billion euros, according to Statista. Is there a way to reduce costs?

Automatically generated content can be the answer. Since 2016, The Washington Post has been using an algorithm previously trained by humans to generate information on election results; in Europe, 9 of the 15 largest news agencies (from AFP to Reuters) use automatically generated content; in Spain, EFE agency has signed an agreement with the startup Narrativa to create content with artificial intelligence.

You’re probably already consuming computer-generated content without realizing it, for example when you check news about sports scores, financials, etc. PR agencies can also take advantage of this technology, for example to automatically generate versions of a press release with the local results of a study.


This message will self-destruct in 3, 2, 1…

In reaction to the increasing volume of content available on the Internet, the popularity of ephemeral content is growing. These are messages, videos, photos, etc. that are no longer available after a short period of time. Snapchat was the pioneer social network in introducing this form of content, which has been adopted by other platforms with great success. In 2019, Instagram Stories had 500 millions active users per day.

What are the advantages of ephemeral content? Among other things, it encourages instant interaction, accelerates viralization and generates a sense of exclusivity which increases brand engagement (due to the phenomenon known as FOMO, the fear of missing something or being excluded). Ephemeral content also connects to the demand of short contents of fast consumption on mobile devices, which explains the growing success of new social networks such as TikTok. The good, if short, is twice as good.

The Podcast becomes corporate

Podcasts are one of the oldest formats on the Internet and were used until now as an alternative to conventional radio or for the re-broadcasting of content. However, more and more companies are turning to corporate podcasts or sponsored podcasts, a segment that according to the IAB will bill 1 billion of dollars by 2021. In addition to being inexpensive and easy to produce and disseminate, some of the keys to success in podcasting are:

1. Smart speakers

2. Fragmentation of the audiences

3. Demand of customized content

Of course, it’s not about making a company podcast dedicated to praise the brand, but about creating attractive programs for the target audience. For example, the collaborative platform Slack produces a popular podcast aimed at knowmads and other knowledge workers; while in Spain the BBVA bank’s digital entrepreneurship and transformation podcast has been awarded the Asociación de Directivos de Comunicación.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

SEO for people, not for search engines

We could not finish this review of the trends that will be dominate public relations in 2020 without mentioning BERT, the latest update to Google’s search algorithm. BERT stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers” and refers to the application of natural language processing (NLP) technologies to search.

Although the technical details are quite complex, basically BERT’s aim is to encourage more natural SEO. To do this, the new algorithm is able to understand not only the literal meaning of the words used in an online search, but also their context. In this way, Google can show results that are much more relevant to users.

While most companies are concerned about the impact of this change on the positioning of their pages on Google (for now, it only affects 10 % of searches), the background message implied by this update is more relevant: the important thing is not to create optimized content for Google, but content that is useful for users.


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