It’s no secret that the best part of beginning another year is the sense of newness in the air. It’s the chance to do something fresh, whether that’s to set a brand new goal or to simply approach the same goal(s) in a new way. This isn’t a feeling that only affects individuals; many organizations and industries are interested in pursuing the same new feeling, and PR is no different.
Echoing a sentiment seen in many PR-centric outlets, PR Newswire predicts that digital media and social media will continue to influence the PR industry: not only will consumers continue to connect with their favorite businesses through social media outlets, but also social networks themselves will continue to find ways to successfully work with one another – or not. This was seen late last year when Twitter prohibited Instagram photos from appearing directly on its website. As a result, PR tactics will involve more collaboration within multiple departments, will be strongly content-based, and will increasingly use visuals (i.e. images, infographics, videos) for differentiation. These multiple platforms will also be further integrated into ROI measurement reporting as well.
However, these emerging changes and expectations point to another trend PR Newswire and others may not have considered: an increase in crisis management. As PR departments continue to develop content that increases a brand’s visibility, they also increase the represented brand’s own transparency and accountability—also known as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. Although Forbes’ blog pointed out a concern that CSR has “stalled” in the past, with the changes occurring in today’s society, consumers and organizations are continuing to make businesses more responsible for their actions. This is becoming especially more prevalent as target markets become more fragmented and the digital sphere continues to grow.
While this train of thought may put a dark cloud in the sunny skies of the new year, a brand’s corporate responsibility is something consumers continue to bring into question—especially when they feel like their favorite business, brand, or celebrity violates that responsibility. Singer Beyoncé Knowles recently came under fire from the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) for signing a $50 million contract with Pepsi Co. as a “brand ambassador.” The organization cited her partnership with the brand as a negative influence on the health of Americans, many of whom fit the demographics of Knowles’ own fan base. Similarly, Swedish clothing company H&M has also recently been called to end its partnership with South Korea-based Daewoo International, stating that Daewoo’s product comes from Uzbekistan which uses forced labor. H&M’s use of the cotton contradicts its pledge to oppose forced child labor in the country. These instances have not been without continued backlash: Knowles’ decision raises questions about her business ethics and influence amongst her younger fans; a petition against H&M’s partnership with Daewoo has emerged online.
This isn’t to say that every PR department in 2013 will suddenly find itself working overtime to handle a possible crisis. However it is still important that PR departments and firms alike still make sure they account for CSR in their strategies. Additionally, a strong crisis management plan should also be a required part of all brands’ 2013 planning. Customers’ expectations of their favorite brands are as high as ever, and brand loyalty sometimes does not always trump personal morals.
What do think of the trends in PR you see emerging in 2013? Are there any trends that you think PR Newswire forgot? Let us know in the comment section!
-Jalika Conteh, 451 Marketing public relations intern