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Six PR Trends That Will Impact Businesses In 2020 Despite the introduction of new technology, specialized algorithms, and fancy electronic devices, PR needs a human element to remain relevant.

By Anastasiya Golovatenko

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2020 will see a rise in strategic roles across organizational marketing plans with a focus on metrics and measurement. A further shift is happening towards impact- and outcome-based results. The industry is the midst of a communications era, with earned media approaches being more strategic, more measurable, and more essential than ever before, creating demand for like-minded public relations (PR) professional to lead the way. With so many different platforms and technologies in play, here's my pick on the powerful PR trends that will dominate the year ahead:

1. Importance of data with interactive content explosion More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated worldwide every day, and the amount of global data sphere subject to data analysis is projected to grow to 5.2 zettabytes by 2025. With the influx of digital content, PR efforts will need to be smarter and even more engaging than ever before. 2020 will witness hyper-focused digital campaigns that are designed to reach a niche audience group. SEO PR will become an integral part of communication campaigns, with the main objective to support businesses being more visible online to generate the right traffic to their corporate platforms.

2. Niche and specialized PR will gain popularity In 2020, organizations will be even more selective in deciding which PR firm they will partner with, placing unprecedented pressure on PR professionals. Businesses will select an agency based on their specialization. Industry experience and having a clear understanding of the local market, cultural aspects, and its trends will be seen by brands as critical factors for selecting an agency to work with. PR consultants will thus need to be proactive and smart to support brands effectively in a fast-moving environment. Moreover, PR firms will need to demonstrate a deep understanding of their clients' businesses, and provide examples of integrated campaigns that focus on results, which have made an impact on their audience.

Related: Infographic: Believable Branding In The UAE- Who Do We Trust?

3. Meaningful engagements will have a deeper impact Despite the introduction of new technology, specialized algorithms, and fancy electronic devices, PR needs a human element to remain relevant. PR firms will need to hire/train consultants to create and maintain meaningful engagements- from developing content, to hosting events, to other forms of communications that people can relate to. With the masses of content online, consumers are moving towards digital decluttering. PR professionals will need to present consumers with content that is sharp, meaningful, and relevant. With this trend, we can expect opinion pieces to take the center stage, helping business leaders connect with their audience on a personal level.

4. New types of content that drives sales There is a growing hunger for new types of content. Voice, for instance, is expected to be a US$40 billion channel by 2022. Moreover, it is also reported that at least 47% of sales are driven by buyers who have viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative. Consumption of thought leadership has grown from 50% to 58% over the past year- this is especially the case in the B2B segment. And 55% of decision-makers say they use thought leadership as an important way to vet a business. In 2020, PR professionals will need to consider all aspects of their clients' social and digital footprint, with the development of short form videos for social media, or podcasts for online interviews. Backed by the right metrics, content will need to match the right platform to ensure a broad outreach. Social platforms will play a make-or-break role in the success of many brands in 2020. As companies continue to prioritize thought leadership to influence purchasing decisions, sales and marketing teams need to wake up, and see the value in this practice. It's time to make content a priority.

5. 2020 will be the year of micro influencers Micro influencers have been a focus for some time now, because they are more within reach. More and more brands are realizing the importance of connecting with micro influencers who have developed dialogue, rapport, and trust with an intimate audience group. This type of authenticity breeds trust, which in turn can result in leads and potential sales. Micro influencers are also willing to align with brands as long-term partner to ensure successful outcome-based campaigns.

6. Crisis communication and reputation management will be on the radar We can expect to see more in-house roles dedicated exclusively to corporate reputation management as part of an organizations broader communications teams. Executives say that, on average, 49% of the reputation of their company is attributable to their CEO's reputation. Companies risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search results, and 70% of potential customers with four or more negatives. Communicators in 2020 will be tasked with gatekeeping and culture-testing to prevent incidents like hashtag campaigns on social media and other online media, which push for boycotts of brands and keep brands true to their mission statements and consumer expectations. This will mean more and more companies will need support to roll their communications effectively, and strengthen their reputation and brand voice.

Related: An Industry Shifts: Influencer Marketing In The UAE

Anastasiya Golovatenko

PR Director, Sherpa Communications

Anastasiya Golovatenko is an accomplished PR professional and business advisor who leads a Dubai-based communications consultancy Sherpa Communications. With more than 12 years of expertise developing and executing all aspects of public relations and marketing campaigns, she provides senior counsel to brands of any size and structure, helping them achieve business objectives and meaningful results through the strategic use of communication.

She has experience across various sectors -from B2B to B2C industries, and has worked with MENA, international and CIS clients, diplomatic bodies, trade institutions, government institutions, and NGOs- supporting them both in-house and on the agency side. Anastasiya and her colleagues also actively support a rising number of startups and SMEs in the UAE and Middle East region providing advice on best practices and tactics for effective scaling up and business growth. She prides herself on establishing a personal connection with agency’s clients to best match their specific needs.

A passionate public relations practitioner, Anastasiya is actively involved in community groups in the UAE helping individuals and businesses master PR tools for their projects. She is also involved in mentorship programs by in5 in Dubai, UAE. She writes for the UAE and international media on important industry topics sharing tips and advice on effective communication, reputation management, savvy marketing planning amongst others. Anastasiya graduated with honors from Kiev Institute of International Relations, where she earned Master Degree in Public Relations & Analytics (Hons.). 

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