As we look ahead to 2010, how can public relations help a business grow? It is an interesting time as PR agencies and departments have slimmed down and limped through the recession. We’re now looking forward to an economic recovery and the massive changes that social media has made in how we do business.
With that in mind, here are five predictions, wishes and thoughts on how public relations will look in 2010.
- Social media will further blur lines between PR and marketing, as advertising agencies, PR agencies, brand consultancies and other marketing agencies all recommend and implement social media strategies. As a result, we may see in-house PR departments combine with marketing functions and their job responsibilities may become broader. More PR agencies may merge with ad agencies or form strategic partnerships with digital experts. Lines will keep blurring.
- As social media grows as part of public relations strategies, the focus will be on measuring return on investment. By 2009, most PR pros had jumped in with both feet, so 2010 will be the year to understand the impact of social media on sales, brands and image. I think PR pros will have to answer those questions or there will be backlash from company leaders who want to see ROI.
- Relationships will still matter. Relationships give PR pros the best chance of success in the industries where they have expertise. Online networking is a great way to broaden existing and develop new relationships, but lets not forget the personal (phone calls, meetings) relationships we have developed, cultivated and maintained for years. They still work.
- PR will grow in importance as the economy recovers. Just as consumers are being more careful with where they spend their dollars, businesses will look for the most cost-effective way to communicate their brand, improve their image and reach their audiences. PR is cost effective and I can see it taking budget dollars once spent on advertising. But the dollars will only go to those PR agencies and in-house staff who are industry experts, can adapt to new communications realities (social media) and demonstrate ROI.
- I saved the obvious for last: Social media will continue to be an increasingly important part of public relations. As tired as I am with seeing and hearing “social media” in every article, presentation, plan and conversation. PR pros need to keep learning and finding way to use it more effectively.
Happy New Year.