Tech Disruptions Catalysing the Evolution of the PR Industry in 2019

Let's delve deeper and assimilate key tech disruptions that are going to act as catalysts in the evolution of PR in 2019

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The past couple of years have witnessed technological advancements like digitalisation and AI seeping into our everyday lives. Without realising, we engage with revolutionary tech disruptions on a day-to-day basis. Netflix suggesting the next series to binge watch, Prime’s X-Ray, the fetching recommendations on Amazon etc. have all been led by AI and machine learning, adding convenience, and perhaps an element of magic, into our lived realities.

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The ever-expanding world of communication and public relations has not remained isolated from these gradual yet tectonic shifts. With our lives being surrounded by smartphones, tabs, voice recognition systems, fitness bands and more, the PR industry has also been undergoing a transformation.

The typical communication between a PR practitioner and a journalist may take place now on an instant messaging app, perhaps involving a handful of GIFs, hashtags, amongst others. Practitioners would know when a journalist is travelling or has switched publications, simply by browsing through their Instagram stories or Twitter feed. At a larger level, native advertising, mobile apps, social media etc. have emerged as significant new-age channels, adding to the available potpourri of opportunities for executing successful PR campaigns. Agencies are also utilising big data analysis to tap into unique consumer insights to craft campaigns that would ascertain success. While this is merely the tip of the iceberg, let’s delve deeper and assimilate key tech disruptions that are going to act as catalysts in the evolution of PR in 2019.

Videos Take the Throne!

Videos have come to dominate digital media; the popular social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, are being increasingly infiltrated by videos. Digital nomads of today find it more convenient to consume video-based content than long-form blog posts and other texts. Furthermore, live stories on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp etc. provide brands with a new channel for promoting micro-content, also making it convenient for users to remotely access live-streaming events.

Considering how the prominence of videos is rising above everything else, Google has also launched its video intelligence API to answer user’s searches with relevant videos. Taking visual search a notch higher, Pinterest unveiled Lens that lets users discover products simply by uploading an image of the article.

Driven to enhance the brand equity, PR practitioners are likely to tap into the visual mediums as the year progresses. Brands are also recognising this shift in the paradigm and are now more open towards investing in creating contextual and original video content to achieve their pursuits.

Push for Digital Adoption in Rural Segment

Rural India has emerged as a key focus area, owing to widespread digitalisation drive and digital literacy campaigns. With the easy affordability of mobile data and smartphones or handsets supporting internet browsing, tier 3 and 4 segments are no longer distant. At the same time, a number of start-ups and enterprises are increasingly focusing on the hinterlands of India, determined to enhance their bottom lines, while delivering a social impact through their tailor-made offerings for the segment. As a consequence, the upcoming times are going to witness a push towards the vernacular digital content for rural India, perhaps led by videos, given the simplicity of its consumption. The original OTT programming in regional languages and the subsequent organic brand placements are set to only grow in this year. Furthermore, a number of new launches and PR campaigns are likely to adopt a mobile-only approach for penetrating the rural segment, while optimising the ROI.

A Stirring Confluence of AI, VR, and AR

As perhaps the most revolutionary technological advancement of the present generation, AI is transforming the world as we know. While the technology is being adopted in various fast-growing industries like fintech, healthcare, logistics and more, the communications sector hasn’t remained aloof from the same. AI is contributing to simplified and quick decision-making, driven by data analysis. For instance, the Slack bot by New York Times assists in posting stories on social media, after carefully mulling over the data made available from social platforms. In addition to curating, AI is also contributing towards drafting posts, a strong case in point being the robot journalists deployed by Associated Press that draft articles.

Along with AI, other advancements in augmented and virtual reality have open newer vistas for brands to become more real and accessible, albeit remotely. Significant events like launches or flash sales are now being presented to the masses, leveraging these awe-inspiring developments. For instance, Virtual Reality led the marketing for Amazon’s Prime Day sale, while an AR-based app was launched by Kate Spade New York to create enough buzz around the opening of its physical store in Paris. As 2019 progresses, we would witness more instances of innovation in PR, driven by a confluence of AI, VR, and AR. 

In essence, with the industry taking the recent tech disruptions in its stride and pursuing the next stage of evolution, it is imperative for agencies to update their existing modus operandi. Sooner perhaps than later, PR companies across the globe will be vying to remain at the forefront of this evolution, upgrade their operations and offer innovative, tech-led services, in order to stay relevant and deliver unique value. The time is ripe for the companies to take a cue from the tech disruptions around and disrupt their existing models and status quo to better accommodate the future.

Gaurav Patra

Written By

A first generation Technology journalist, seasoned PR veteran and digital media exponent, Gaurav Patra has explored every aspect of his key strengths through his rich association with the media since the past two decades. He has been brandishing his innate communication and management skills to ably realize his dream of furthering his own entrepreneurial venture from vision to execution. After building a solid base in journalism across leading publication houses like Cyber Media, Media Transasia and Jasubhai Digital Media, he has seen and tracked the rise and shine of the IT industry in India over the last 20 years, lending keen insight and perspective as Assistant Bureau Chief at The Indian Express Group.