PR has long been an effective way to gain exposure, fill the top of the marketing funnel and strengthen your brand. With the frenetic, constant, relentless pace of change in the marketing world now, though, your public relations initiatives need to keep pace. The average American comes across up to 5,000 marketing messages every day. A little case of information overload, don’t you think?
What’s a brand to do to break through all the noise?
PR is one of the most effective methods for reaching your audience. It’s a way to leapfrog all the advertising around us, and instead to leverage the credibility of earned media in endearing your brand in the hearts of your prospective customers. With this in mind, we’ve outlined the most important PR trends this year so that you can cut through all the clutter and start earning more brand love.
The Press Release is Now 0.1% of PR
Back in the day, when you spoke about PR you spoke about press releases. Today, press releases are close to meaningless. Instead, it’s about relationships, influencers, relevancy and value-add for the target audience. It’s about creativity and innovation. It’s about being meaningful in a world where content can be created all too easily.
It’s about being more, doing more and delivering more.
Virality Goes Viral
The ALS Bucket Challenge was a game-changer for non-profit fundraising, raising more than $100 million in donations compared to $2.5 million the prior year. Wow! Expect many organizations to attempt to mimic what The ALS Association achieved with its super viral campaign. What made the ALS Bucket Challenge so successful? The campaign was simple. It was immediate. It was easily accessible. It was selfless. It was fun. And it was the right thing to do.
Don’t think for a second that you’ve seen the last massively viral campaign for a good cause.
A simple announcement in today’s world of information overload just isn’t going to cut through the noise. Instead, brands are increasingly going to take a multi-dimensional approach, executing experiential PR campaigns. As an example, NorthFace launched a campaign in 2014 that challenged Americans to reimagine exploration and to become environmental conservation leaders. A #SeeForYourself taxi (with kayak on its roof) took riders to secret locations for daylong excursions. From a partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior to a collaboration with Outside magazine, from music downloads to online videos, NorthFace aimed for a network of brand touchpoints.
You feelin’ the multi-dimensional love? NorthFace sure is!
Branded content ROCKS! Just ask the analytics software company KISSmetrics, whose blog attracts more than 350,000 visitors monthly and is now responsible for 82% of their site traffic and 70% of their leads. Or look at Red Bull, with its own online TV platform and endless new videos covering the world of extreme sports with a combined total of more than 1 billion video views.
Instead of exclusively relying on Twitter or Pinterest for your social success, the successful brands of the future are building their own branded platforms.
Our brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text-based content. According to Inc., videos are shared 12X more than text or links on Facebook. PR Newswire reports that 86% of press releases do not contain any visual elements. Expect to see much more emphasis on the visual in all facets of PR in the coming year. Why? Because visual content is often more effective at quickly evoking an emotive response out of the audience. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uncovered through his studies that emotions are essential to a person making a purchase decision, and marketers are sure to follow suit by upgrading their visual game.
Expect to see an explosion of visual marketing in 2015.
Everything’s Turning Mobile
According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of American adults with a smartphone jumped from 44% in 2011 to 58% in 2014. Globally, smartphone usage will reach 2 billion this year (Bloomberg). Mobile Internet usage actually surpassed desktop Internet usage this past year (comScore), while users started spending more time on mobile devices than watching TV for the first time ever as well (Flurry). And it’s not just a lot of “Charlie Bit My Finger” or “Leave Britney Alone” video watching that’s going on – Google reports that 83% of US smartphone owners use their devices in-store to inform purchases.
If you ain’t mobile-ready, you ain’t maximizing your marketing ROI.
The New Influencers
There’s a new wave of influencers building massive online followings. What they say, their audiences do. Look at the success of influencers such as Bethany Mota, with over 8.2 million YouTube subscribers and more than 648 million video views on YouTube. Or Michelle Phan, with over 7.4 million subscribers and more than 1 billion video views. These influencers extend their reach well beyond the online platform. For example, Mota now has her own line of clothing at Aeropostale and Phan has her own line of L’Oreal makeup. New agencies like Fullscreen cater exclusively to these influencers.
Expect a wider range of brands to attempt to partner with this new wave of influencers.
As we mentioned in our list of “Hot Marketing Trends 2015,” in-person events are still one of the most effective forms of marketing and PR a company can do. In the B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America report, published by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, in-person events were identified as THE MOST EFFECTIVE form of content marketing for the fifth consecutive year. Overall, 69% of marketers pointed to in-person events as very effective.
From year one, Salesforce.com used in-person events to methodically build a loyal, passionate user base, and the company is now a multi-billion dollar powerhouse. The effectiveness of the medium is just too great for marketers to ignore. Expect even more events of all kinds in the coming year.
The Convergence of PR, SEO, Social and Content Marketing
This is another trend that we identified in our Hot Marketing Trends 2015 post. The lines between PR, SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing are overlapping to such an extent that any marketer worth their salt is integrating all four of these practices by default now. With a variety of social and self-publishing platforms readily available, brands are pumping out data like never before.
The key is making it easy to discover, easy to remember, easy to share and easy to translate into brand love. That takes not only PR, but also SEO, social media and content marketing.