Traditional public relations (PR) has been evolving for the last ten years, but in 2020, I believe we are really going to see traditional PR experts forced to become all round PR strategist if they are going both survive and to be able to service the needs of their clients. Where we will focus not only on PR but social media, branding, marketing, copywriting, diversity in campaigns, sustainability and technology, where technology will be playing a bigger role than previously thought.
This need to become all round PR strategists will be pushed by the brands who recognize that they have to up their game, which in turn will be driven by consumers who will demand that brands do better and get it right. This isn’t something that marketing or digital professionals will be able to deliver on, but instead by communication experts who will have an overview and a real understanding of the brands they are working with and representing.
For instance, we have seen many of the luxury brands starting to drive diversity in 2019 by employing ‘diversity chiefs’ after many culturally insensitive campaigns. Chanel hired its first ‘Head of Diversity and Inclusion’, Fiona Pargeter, this year, as a way to reportedly “beef up the resources” devoted to creating diverse and inclusive environments. While, Prada launched its ‘Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council’ earlier this year in February. This was after, the brand came under scrutiny when some of its products (black monkey figurines with oversized red lips) displayed in a New York, US, store were thought to resemble blackface imagery.
Other luxury fashion houses, including Burberry, are also hiring for similar roles. Renée Tirado was named as Gucci’s first global head of diversity, equity and inclusion and followed its out-of-touch autumn/winter 2018 collection featuring a balaclava polo neck jumper with large red lips – a product accused of portraying blackface. The Italian fashion company apologized, stating it would turn the incident into “a powerful learning moment”.
These hires are not clever publicity moves, but a must have for companies worldwide who recognize that they need to embrace diversity, as there is no longer the excuse to get it wrong. Consumers are demanding better and for brands to be inclusive and sensitive.
Sustainability will be seen as a bigger core brand value and news item than any PR or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professional could have imagined. With climate change, plastic pollution and reducing waste continuing to dominate global headlines, companies will need to ensure that their CSR initiatives are not just used as marketing tools, as they will face a consumer and media backlash, but are instead integral to their core brand values, which is then sincerely filtered through to all their internal and external communications, operations and delivery.
Thirteen years ago, companies would start CSR projects to show their stakeholders how good they were, which was window dressing. Fast-forward to 2019, businesses need to prove how good they are!
This means creating a human connection between a brand and its audiences will be pivotal in 2020. Where the PR strategy will need to be driven by emotion and have the human element in order to be more meaningful and lead to a growing focus on expert, local and enthusiastic micro-influencers, instead of macro-influencers. Everything will be drilled down, as consumers suffer from constant information overload and expect to engage with businesses on their own terms. It’s so important to create campaigns that provoke emotions that are relevant and memorable, and therefore, PR experts will need to consider all aspects of a client’s social and digital footprint.
The best campaigns will focus on creating not just customers – but true fans who are passionate about the brand, who proactively search for information and become active advocates for the business.
Simultaneously, it will be important and a challenge consider how to reach consumers undergoing digital detoxes. How is your brand providing value to an audience overwhelmed by hypo connectivity? As interactive content and video are no longer enough; no one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf solutions. The challenge is real –creating campaigns that tap into human truths and acknowledge human potential will be key.
I am definitely looking forward to 2020…as Serendipity PR is more than ready.
There’s not a day that goes by when we don’t see a climate, environmental or sustainable story making the headlines. I think it is safe to say that these topics are now high on the daily news agenda and it is about time. I have been actively involved working on raising the profile of the issues surrounding climate change, the impact of humans on the plant and sustainability for the last two decades…and during this time it has been a hard PR slog. As till now there has been a lack of apathy with the UK media.
I recall an environmental journalist working on one of the national broadsheets in the 90’s explaining to me his challenge of convincing his news editor to run a climate change story, that I was working on at the time. He said that unless it was directly affecting people here in the UK, it wasn’t a strong story for his editor – a story about climate change in Africa wasn’t going to interest his paper. Well fast-forward to 2019, where we are all experiencing the global butterfly effects of climate change or should I say what has since been upgraded to ‘climate crisis’ and what is happening in Africa, India, Singapore or any other part of the world is now our news.
Recently, The Guardian announced that it was updating its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crisis facing the world. Where instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned. “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”
This news narrative is also being driven by the private sector, as corporations have started to wake up to the long-term implications for their businesses of global warming. Companies, such as Coca-Cola, Google, Apple and Tesla are vocal about climate change and their pursuit of sustainability; and this is also changing PR.
However, some argue that this kind of media reporting creates public fear and that a ‘war on the climate crisis’ is not a positive or a balanced media response.
I say that we have wasted the last twenty years trying to put this issue on the news agenda in order to raise public awareness about the state of the climate, an issue that affects us all. We are now at a tipping point and according to the eminent, Sir David Attenborough we only have ten years to make the planetary changes that we need to survive.
At last the PR and media industry are together making the right headlines about climate crisis. It’s a start. We need consistency across all media channels. The clock is ticking.
One of my favourite #WebSummit moments with Wyclef Jean…Ready Or Not…
Posted by Serendipity PR & Media on Donnerstag, 9. November 2017
If you have not been to Lisbon, put it on your travel list…the Portuguese are charming and warm-hearted, living in beautiful city full great places to eat. I was there on a press ticket for what is called the biggest tech event in the world – Web Summit, 6 to 10 November. There were 60,000 people who attended from more than 170 countries to hear and learn from over 1,200 world class speakers that read like a Who’ Who book! From Al Gore to Wyclef Jean to Rosario Dawson, Matthew Freud to the people driving the international news agenda and behind the world’s most influential companies – Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner who fined Google €2.4 billion, Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield, Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, UN secretary-general, António Guterres, and Booking.com CEO, Gillian Tans and more.
We’re in the midst of a technology revolution. Some call it Industrie 4.0. Others call it the industrial internet of things… whatever you call it, it’s here and it’s happening. By 2020 it is estimated that there will be 20 billion connected devices and we’re not just talking about domestic appliances or devices like fridges and smart phones, but the big things like buildings, trains and traffic systems, power grids and wind farms – the equipment and machines that provide the critical infrastructure for our lives – and this was the focus of Web Summit.
The talks and sessions were mind-blowing, where occasionally you were facing your future, particularly when seeing and interviewing Sophia, the humanoid robot using an early form of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Some of the main thoughts from Web Summit is how AI and tech can be used to reverse the damage we have done to planet – rethinking climate change. There was a strong and a real will at the Summit – to make positive change. I covered this in my two latest articles on Justmeans. You can read my interview with Marcus Shingle, CEO, XPRIZE and my Al Gore piece.
The Web Summit reinforced the impact and the power of this digital revolution and there is no going back. It is tearing up the rule book and disrupting…we just have to read Trump’s Twitter feed to know that…
Photo Credit: Web Summit