As public relations professionals, it is our job to keep abreast of the news for our clients. What can get lost in the day-to-day is keeping in touch with the latest innovations in our own professional industry. This job is not the same as it was ten years ago, or even five years ago. New trends in the communications world continue to change the old ways of doing things. We constantly have new tools available to increase media impact and our roles making those connections. Trade organizations, including the PR Council and the Public Relations Global Network, embed the importance of continuous learning as part of their missions – and industry education is a big part of this.
Members of the CooperKatz team recently attended the PR Council’s Critical Issues Forum. This annual forum opens a dialogue with firms across the nation to address the industry’s most compelling topics, ranging from “influencers” to CMOs, to strengthening the client-agency relationship. A range of PR and marketing executives and experts participated in panels to discuss what the industry can do to improve and offered actionable insights on how to be more efficient agencies.
The key takeaways our team gathered from the event include:
- Everyone loves influencers, but what are they, really? A lively debate among five panelists revealed that coming to an agreement on how to define influencer marketing is not an easy feat. Various ways influencers have changed attitudes and behaviors were highlighted and discussed by the influencer marketing executives. But we were also reminded that when choosing influencers to engage with, it could be easy to confuse popularity with influence. At the end of the day, it’s clear that this is an important tactic for many brands. When done well, conversations are started and when measured properly, the long-term impact is tangible.
- There is a perception that marketing is a caste system and PR is near the bottom. The Association of National Advertisers, Bob Liodice shared that marketers have two responsibilities: build brands and drive results for the company. As public relations professionals, we feel that PR can and should play a very important role in doing both of these. However, the results of a survey from the ANA / PR Council showed that the majority of marketers don’t think PR should own things like brand narrative, content creation and social media. Obviously there is more work to be done to create truly integrated marketing teams.
- The client-agency relationship continues to evolve. Executives from Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard and Hilton Worldwide shared their personal experiences and best practices in working with agency partners. It was clear that the client-agency relationship is not only a business transaction – it should also be a partnership. The panel discussed how they lean on agencies for not only the day-to-day support, but also to be the curators of future ideas.
- Brand journalism is here to stay. As brands look for more ways to connect with their audiences, publishers are finding creative ways to make the connection. Brand journalism, also called “native advertising” has been evolving over the past few years and doesn’t seem to be fizzling out. Brands are incorporating this type of paid promotion into their marketing communications plans. The panelists, including T+ Brand Studios and Time, Inc., discussed the integrity of brand journalism and how transparency in the company’s message is key.
As we near the end of 2015, it’s exciting to think of where these trends will go and what next year will hold for the PR industry.
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