What’s Next? Two Critical PR Trends to Follow

by PR Coach on January 21, 2011

Two big trends for PR to watch: video online and marketing as media

Several recent stories really grabbed my attention because each highlights two critical trends on which PR people must keep a very close eye. Besides, trend watching is one of the things that we do best.

Marketing Morphing Into Media

The first was an Advertising Age story about Best Buy becoming its own multichannel network called BestBuyOn. It’s now producing its own TV programs, original editorial articles and broadcasting on more than 145,000 TV screens inside its stores. It’s also selling advertising and access to its highly desirable shoppers to the likes of Procter & Gamble, Canon and Sony, big traditional TV network advertisers.

Portland’s regional government joined this trend by hiring its own reporter, Nick Christopher, to write news stories on local issues for its own website. Officials claim it provides quicker, independent reporting of Metro’s activities. This made news in a market where traditional media have laid off staff in sizable numbers.

Numerous companies like Costco and Walmat, the travel industry and fashion retailers have published their own magazines for years aimed at consumers, holiday travelers and fashionistas respectively.

But in Social Media Breeds Edvertorial, Rachel Strugatz says “advertising is the new editorial.” Brands are back trying to create credible, authentic storytelling that connects with consumers. If marketers can truly deliver editorial value and stop themselves from over-marketing, over-selling and over-hyping, there’s hope for success. PR should be right there to ensure editorial quality and credibility.

The New York Times reports in As the Web Turns, that smart companies are jumping online with their own attractive, highly targeted blogs, online magazines and video programming. Witness Proctor & Gamble’s Cosmo-style website ManoftheHouse.com with articles like “Conquering Sex Problems”, “Find Her C Spots” and “Ten Things You Should Never, Ever Say.” We suspect it’s not just men who are reading it.

Facebook and YouTube are fast becoming battlefields for marketers in search of new audience and ultimately new customers. As it gets easier for retailers to open a store and sell on Facebook and YouTube, expect the trend to keep on rolling.

It’s all being driven by social media, new technology and the ability to produce your own content to high quality production standards for relative pennies on the dollar.

Ka-ching. Control of message and more revenue – music to the ears of any company.

Video, More Video and Much More Video

The second trend of interest to me was captured in this article in New Media Age - Newspapers overtake broadcasters in video streaming.

Gina Lovett reports on a survey by Brightcove and TubeMogul that says newspaper sites overtook broadcast sites in the number of videos uploaded for the first time. “Newspaper sites streamed 313 million minutes in the quarter, compared with 290 million minutes uploaded by broadcasters,” she writes.

Newspapers are clearly using video to capitalize on their long form content. And, ironically in this study, they now seem to be beating broadcasters to the punch online. The death of newspapers, proclaimed by some pundits, may be premature if publishers can figure out how to monetize their content with consumers.

Other findings in the report included:

  • Newspapers with 51% growth in video content; more than broadcasters for the first time
  • 188% annual increase in the number of video uploads for online media
  • For the first time, Facebook referred more people to video streams than Yahoo
  • Facebook made 9.6% of all referrals, second only to Google
  • Viewing peaked during primetime (6-11pm) similar to traditional TV.

One final point to remember. When it comes to marketing, video converts: 46% increase in conversion rate.

This is fascinating research for PR pros and marketers to follow. Video is without question poised to be an even bigger force for the future, especially online.

Implications for PR Pros?

There are several notable takeaways for PR pros:

  • Expect newspapers to make even more use of video on their own websites in the future. Maybe we can provide useful content to them?
  • Opportunities are growing rapidly for storytelling and publicity using video channels.
  • “New” media may be open to collaboration, story pitches and other forms of editorial cooperation.
  • Control of our own messages and media channels as well as lower production costs are irresistible to budget-conscious organizations.
  • PR pros need to get very skilled, very fast in broadcast production and supervision.
  • We need to constantly stay ahead on social media and lead the charge on both social media and video storytelling.
  • PR will play a critical role in maintaining editorial credibility. That’s an important PR skill set.
  • Video is here to stay both online and in new channels as they add new services, social media and technologies.
  • Pitching to these “new” media is going to get very weird.

For consumers, when it comes to “media”, the future is blurry. And consumers don’t seem to mind at all as marketers become media and video becomes all encompassing and all-consuming.

Those are two very big trends to stay ahead of for public relations professionals. It’s an exciting time to be working in our industry.

If you’re looking for more resources, try the Strategic PR and Corporate Communications sections of the PR Library. And the PR Bookstore is always open for browsing.

Author:  Jeff Domansky is Editor, The PR Coach

Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr

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