Arbitrary greetings of another trip around the sun to you and yours, dear reader.
2016 – The year of ‘post-truth’, Pokémon Go and Ed Balls’ Gangnam Style – was as unpredictable as a South Western train timetable. But with it now firmly in the rear-view mirror, where to now? Those of us in PR-Land are probably glad to see the back of ‘The Year That Should Not Be Namedtm’, with its whirlwind, ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ attitude.
2017 will, hopefully, have a different feel to it as we all come to terms with the different interpretations of news agenda, distribution and the manner of public reaction. The following are just a few things we think you’ll notice in the coming year.
‘The British Public are Sick of Experts.’
So said Michael Gove during the EU Referendum of June last year, before committing the biggest political hari-kari of recent times – running to become Leader of the Conservatives, and therefore Prime Minister, just weeks after saying he definitely wouldn’t.
Regardless of which side of the EU fence you sat on, there were ‘non-truths’ aplenty, but more on this later.
However, Britain’s most well-known Pob look-a-like might not have been as off the mark as first appeared. Leading up to, during and shortly after both the EU Referendum and the US Presidential Election – no-one seemed to have a firm handle on what might actually happen.
In 2017, the onus will be placed squarely on the end listener or viewer. Whether it sounds obvious or not, ensuring that your message will actually tally with your target audience is vital. As a company, at least, communication focus may not necessarily going to be about who you are, but more the power and conviction behind what you say.
Speaking of which…
Fake News Backlash.
‘Post-truth’ was the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year for 2016. No, seriously.
The graphic on their website suggests a spike in the term around mid-to-late June and again in October 2016…when some things happened…
Distraction and confusion have a lot to answer for throughout 2016’s news agenda, as South Park so brilliantly exhibited in their 19th season.
Spraying anything onto the internet and hoping it sticks isn’t a great idea for anyone except Piers Morgan, as anyone who’s ever actively tried to ‘go viral’ will attest.
2017 could well be (read as: hopefully) the year more people stop accepting things at mere face value, start digging a bit further and begin the rebuilding of trust between consumer and media outlet; clever, truthful, intricate PR campaigns could have a large part to play in the tackling of both ‘Fake News’ and the ‘post-truth era’ we find ourselves in.
Falsity comes in degrees, truth is and always will be absolute.
Live Video will dominate as VR Continues to dazzle.
Facebook have put a lot behind their recent live video addition to their app. In fact, you’ve probably seen the TV adverts aimed at the general user on how to ‘Go Live’ and show all your virtual-friends the true mundanity of your Tuesday night gym session. #Gainz
We’ve already had a look at the potential that advancements in virtual reality could bring to the PR industry, adding this to live video will be a total game-changer.
It already pays to ‘Go Live’ as a company, Facebook’s algorithm already heavily favours live offerings, meaning more eyes on the prize, instantly. This could, and most likely will be, the year there’s a huge switch in broadcast methods for the likes of sport, music and politics.
The YouTube Generation Continues to Gather Pace and Influence.
If you’re over the age of 25, you may well have only heard the names Zoella, Jenna Marbles and PewDiePie via your own or other people’s children, but these are the influencers of the millennial-era; like it or not.
Via make-up tutorials, unboxings, play-a-longs and reaction videos, the YouTube Generation has fast become a go-to for those looking to influence and engage.
2017 could see a seismic shift, in that they might not be the YouTube Generation anymore. Facebook’s plans to completely overhaul their entire video section could prove a massive shot in the pockets of Google’s YouTube.
Just as Facebook promotes posts with live video in them, it also holds back any link with a YouTube URL in it. Cross-promotion on social media platforms may become harder and harder for those that aren’t fully up-to-date with the politics between different sites.
Algorithmic changes to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like have had a somewhat negative effect on smaller businesses – hiding their posts from the majority of their followers unless their willing to pay. YouTube could be set to suffer due to the increasing demands of monetisation and pre-roll advertising.
Increased Emphasis on Creative Flair within the Industry.
For good or for bad, the industry will see an increased reliance on the ability of PR creatives.
For decades basic press releases have been the meat and drink of what is produced by PRs – they work, everyone gets it and in today’s world, they can be shared easily when appropriate.
Yet, it’s exactly that which will see an intensified lean on creatives as they dissect a basic press release for use over a multitude of different formats.
Making a valid, salient point in a reduced amount of characters is increasingly becoming an art form in itself, creating engaging videos (live or not) is becoming more and more difficult as the market is flooded and attention spans dwindle.
Again, it may sound obvious, but the sheer ability to stand out from the crowd will rely on those who have the spark and flair to be daring, without being ridiculous – which is a difficult line to tread.
By Stuart Buchanan.