How to talk the talk: PRSA’s roadmap on the five big PR trends for the next year


Our PR Team just got back from the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference in Austin, Texas. Aside from incredible Texan hospitality, authentic Tex-Mex and delicious BBQ, there was a lot to learn.

The top five things every company should be focused on this year are internal communication, crisis communication planning, going live, influencers, and your purpose.


1. Internal Communication

If your staff and your leadership team are not talking the talk you have missed a big opportunity to communicate your brand identity.

Think of your internal audience as your external audience.  This translates into higher employee morale which means less disruption and less turnover. When vacancies do occur they are more quickly filled.

If you are rebranding, refreshing your brand or facing a brand identity crisis your people can and should be your brand ambassadors. They can’t do that if you are not communicating the brand message or company strategy effectively.

This notion of getting your team on board first should be a priority before you launch your message externally.


2. Crisis Communication Planning

Is this a surprise to anyone? Crisis communication was another multi-leveled topic of discourse. The bottom line for all companies is to get your crisis communication plan in place now. A crisis, by definition, is unexpected. More importantly, a crisis has a negative impact on your brand.

Mitigate any pending crisis by having a plan in place while your business is in a calm and neutral state. Take a holistic approach when mapping out your plan. Assign one person to be the “command center” running the strategy. This person should be able to take a step back to asses the situation.

This may seem obvious, but your crisis plan needs to be in alignment with your values. If your employees are not in alignment, make time for training, reassign employees if necessary, and do not be afraid to remove someone from the team if they are not able to get on board.

Despite the headlines on any giving day, it’s worth pointing out that not everything is a crisis. You must also decipher if you are in a crisis, or if this is just how you do business.


3. Go Live

It turns out a live presence isn’t just a fun new add-on for your social channels. Presenter and CEO of D S Simon Media, Doug Simons conducted a social media survey.  80% of users prefer live content over a static social or blog post. The same percentage of respondents said they plan to increase their use over the next year.

So how, when and why do you go live?

Going live can be as simple as using your phone or as complex as using a professional camera and software for broadcast quality results. You can now stream across multiple channels including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn at one time to increase your reach. Treat your live event as you would any other event. Promote the day, time and topic in advance.

Go live anytime your audience needs to hear from you. That’s important. Don’t go live for the sake of being live. Give your audience the content they need. Be a thought leader for your industry or cause not just a brand advocate.

Why? Journalists are busy, and they are strapped for resources. They may value what you have to say but they can’t attend every press conference. Your live stream can be captured and recorded simultaneously. This gives you the opportunity to reuse portions of your live event and the media an opportunity to use your content.


4. Influencers

When it comes to working with influencers it’s a matter of quality over quantity. Mirco and nano influencers provide authentic content for their targeted audience. These people may not have a large following but the people who do follow them have the same values and interests as their influencers.

To put this in perspective mega or macro-influencers have 100,000+ followers. While they have a large reach, the downside to enlisting their help is they don’t tend to be as engaging. They are simply too big to monitor and manage comments from their followers.

The best use of influencers according to Simple Social Media out of New Mexico is to work with a mix of micro-influencers (1,000-10,000 followers) and nano-influencers (100- 1,000 followers).

Nano tends to be the most overlooked influencer group, but they should be on your radar. They are the most engaged and a great source of user-generated content.

Find your influencers by monitoring your hashtags. People who are already endorsing you by shares and likes are a great source.

Many influencers are not interested in going viral or building their following.  So, compensation doesn’t always translate into money. Offer your influencers an experience they don’t usually have access too. Give them creative license to tell the story from their perspective. This is not a time to micromanage.


5. Purpose

Your purpose matters more today than ever before. Your purpose must be authentic, and it must be actionable. 91% of Millennials will switch brands to a company that is seen to be socially responsible, according to Stella Low, senior vice president for Global Communications, Dell.

Aria Finger, millennial marketing expert, and Tuesday’s keynote speaker presented, “Do Something with Purpose.” The theme ran through many of breakout sessions, but Finger succinctly laid out these five rules to follow.

  1. The cause doesn’t matter.
    1. Young people care about everything big and small.
    2. Be authentic to your brand and your values.
  2. Fairness matters.
    1. People want to see a company helping those that cannot help themselves.
    2. Offer to help level the playing field.
  3. Get creative.
    1. Find a hook. It doesn’t have to make sense. If you can connect the dots, do so and launch your campaign.
  4. Foster connections.
    1. Give your purpose a voice.
    2. Engage with your audience
    3. It’s ok to be vulnerable.
  5. Use FOMO (the fear of missing out) to your advantage.
    1. Think of your campaign as an invitation to a party.



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