As we take stock of 2015 and look forward to the coming year, we try to predict new trends for 2016. “Try” being the key word in this sentence! Speaking of “keywords”… In 2015 we saw some big changes in the way folks digest information and these changes of course affect the way PR professionals tell stories. For example, Periscope burst onto the stage this past year and audiences applauded the live-stream, interactive newscast format. Will we see more Periscope-esque apps pop onto our feed? Wearable media sources – think iWatch and Fitbits – became very popular leading to a broader potential media landscape. And what should we think about all of those traditional newspapers downsizing their staff? Here are our thoughts on how these changes, and others, will shape the PR landscape of 2016.

Photo credit: Facebook

Photo credit: Facebook

1. Live video footage is here to stay. Periscope and Meerkat are the two hottest apps to hit the feed this year…and no one is surprised. Live video has always been one of the most engaging media sources and will continue to dominate in 2016. Facebook’s recent announcement that it is expanding its live streaming to take on Periscope and Meerkat is proof of that. With the dominance of video and the live stream, businesses will need to think of ways to share their news in video format, preferably live, and in an entertaining way. Will we all become producers in the coming years? Maybe your BA in “Broadcast Journalism” will be useful after all! 

2. Blurred Lines…between PR and SEO. PR and SEO will blend more seamlessly in 2016. Each article published yields backlinks and keywords which in turn boost a company’s searchability. Why? Because Google is getting smarter and recognizing companies whose name comes up on third party sites. Sprinkling keywords throughout a website doesn’t do the trick anymore; you need third-party endorsements and real news to boost your rankings. Influencer marketing is the new hot term digital marketers are using to achieve this, we call it PR and we’ve been doing it for decades.

3. The decline of the press release. The traditional press release’s days are likely numbered. Today journalists are overworked, understaffed, and get about 80 million press releases per day (slight exaggeration, although journalists likely feel like that’s how many they are receiving). No one has time to read through these formal news pieces. As PR pros, our greatest successes come from creating story ideas for journalists that somehow include our product or company (notice how we say “include” meaning journalists are much more likely to talk about a product or company as part of a bigger story – round-ups or trend stories – as opposed to a feature piece solely focused on the brand). The pitch is the golden ticket, and it must be short, concise, targeted, smart, and immediately engaging. Sure, we still include the press release to the email for those that “want to learn more.” But we aren’t convinced anyone is reading it.

4. What about wearable media? Was the iWatch really as popular as Apple hoped? The jury is still out. We’re not sure yet if wearable media is going to be the next big thing. Most people are still clinging to their smart phones…which seem to be trending towards tablet size as opposed to tiny watch size. The one thing that is certain, with each new platform, is that there is potential for very targeted media outreach and new advertising platforms. All of these devices are capturing huge amounts of data on us as individuals. The question is, will individuals want to share this data, and if they do, how will we use it.

5. Refocus on passion and lifestyle journalism. With so much information out there, and so many different audiences, media will have to become more targeted towards interests, lifestyle, values, and passions. Trying to market towards one general age group – Millennials for example – is too tough, proven by the fact that several national general magazines have shuttered in 2015 (e.g. All You, Details, Fitness, Lucky) and regional publications are thriving and expanding. With so many platforms and so many media savvy consumers, journalists, and thus PR professionals, will have to speak to unique interests as opposed to broad generations, and further target their content. And… secretly we’re a bit sick of hearing the word Millennial; we hope that one goes down the drain in 2016 also!

There you have it – our predictions for 2016. We probably could go on and name a few more, but you, dear reader, probably need to do a bit of last minute online shopping, or perhaps you’d rather tune into the latest Persicope feed. And we don’t blame you! From all of your friends at Orapin Marketing + Public Relations, we wish you and yours a very happy New Year!