2017 will be the year of consolidation in terms of communications, customer-centricity and capital expenditures. My topline predictions for the regional communications industry for 2017 are as under:

  1. Doing less but doing it well

Consultancies will increasingly be faced with the rather rare situation of having to concentrate their efforts on conceptualizing and executing fewer communications activities or campaigns albeit with much larger impact and outcomes. This trend will also proliferate across various industries and brands will increasingly focus their communications and marketing efforts on fewer and better things especially with CSR and external media/customer engagements.

  1. Quality over Quantity

As a continuation of the above trend, the focus will slowly but surely shift from the number of exposures to the type of exposures. Messaging will take precedence over size or cost when evaluating the value of communications.

  1. Integrated Communications to become the norm

Brands especially those in the B2C segment will, through choice or necessity, increasingly look to deploy integrated communications not just for specific campaigns or products but on the corporate or overall brand level as well to optimize the impact of PR and Digital.

  1. Demand for PR and Social Media to rise exponentially

With brands across industries preparing to launch sweeping, organization-wide cost cutting initiatives and streamline operations, the onus will shift to PR and Social Media to keep the customer informed and engaged.

  1. Ground-level communications to see high demand

The demand for B2C communication strategies and creative initiatives will rise as companies shift focus towards smaller but regular and predictable income sources rather than bigger but less frequent and unpredictable ones.

  1. Unification of Communications

Restricted to MNCs or local companies with international operations, a definite trend that will evolve in 2017 is unification of global communications. Reasons behind this could vary from board-level directives to consolidation of human or financial resources to search engine optimization.

  1. Glocal Strategies and Plans

International firms will not just increase their focus on the region but will also increasingly look to develop and activate PR strategies and plans that are not just customized but rather tailor-made for the focus market(s) and customer(s).

  1. Content Marketing to take precedence

While content has been a topic of focus for a lot of agencies and brands, it has not been the topic of choice for all. However with a gradual shift to Digital marketing, agencies will be ramping up their content marketing strategies and focus their communications through keywords optimization.

  1. PR measurement: Online Vs Offline and its impact on businesses

Evaluation of PR ROI won’t be restricted to clippings reports alone but also in terms of sales revenues, influencers sharing information about clients and encouraging customer engagement on social media and so on.

  1. Influencer Marketing

A term we’ve heard a lot in the past year will be one of the main focus areas for brands in the fashion, beauty and technology space. Dedicated budgets will be allotted to influencer marketing in 2017.

  1. Selective Influencer Collaborations

2016 was the year for brands to revise their plans or rather go off plan and splurge their marketing budgets on influencers and bloggers with the highest number of followers with the objective of reaching out to consumers at any cost. However, brands and agencies will be a lot more cautious in spending communication budgets on influencers, focusing more on engagement rates rather than number of followers.

  1. Grass-root Mentoring

Agencies will increasingly be investing in training and mentoring programs for communications students as well as young students inclined towards PR, to enhance capabilities and services offered to clients, and also build a strong foundation for the future of the industry. Training will be done through webinars and online programs, and potentially also be monetized at a later stage.

Sharon Alvares, PR Director – Matrix PR