THURSDAY 24 JAN 2019 12:57 PM

COMMUNICATORS DISCUSS ISSUES THAT WILL IMPACT THE INDUSTRY IN 2019

As per the Chinese zodiac, 2019 is the Year of the Boar. According to Pantone, the 2019 is the year of the colour ‘living coral.’ But for the PRCA, 2019 is the year of digital change, PR professionalisation and a maturation of the market.

At a conference last week, speakers from across the communications industry discussed their predictions for 2019 including the challenges they expect companies to face in terms of reputation management.

One of those challenges was the much-dreaded ‘B’ word. Jim Donaldson, FleishmanHillard Fishburn CEO for the UK & Middle East said, “There’s no win for me,” with regards to Brexit. It has and will continue to dominate the news cycle, making it that much harder for PR professionals to get their jobs done with the media. But the challenge also extends to the composition of the industry itself. Speakers discussed the use and value of freelancers, the need for a better approach to work-life balance and the poor categorisation of ‘digital’ across the comms space.

“We need to stop talking about ‘digital’ as a thing,” said Danny Whatmough, MD for integrated media at Weber Shandwick. Speakers instead proposed approaching digital as just another aspect of an integrated approach, rather than a separate type of communications. That is reflected in the PRCA’s ’19 recommendations for great communications in 2019.’ Digital, it suggests, will mature ensuring smarter, more well-managed digital communications and better measurement-driven feedback.

The conference also approached another topic that 2019 could arguably be the year of – influencer marketing. With events like VidCon growing in stature and the now nearly $10bn industry of influencer-brand partnerships, it cannot be ignored by any company, B2C or otherwise. But, argued Scott Guthrie lead analyst at Luxmoore Consulting, companies should improve their dealings with influencers by remembering one key thing: it’s all about relationships.

Most of what appears on ‘influencer marketing gaffes’ lists is comprised of poorly placed, nearly adverts carried out by influencers that have no vital connection to the brand. But, argued Guthrie, PR professionals can be instrumental in building relationships with the right kinds of influencers to result in a vibrant, long-lasting partnership that is of benefit to both brand and influencer.

It may be early to be predicting what issues will determine the course of the rest of the year, however, there are sure to be interesting and exciting challenges ahead for communications and PR professionals.

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