2018 PR & Communications predictions

A New Year – like a fresh start – is always exciting. Sometimes that excitement might be tempered by nervousness. After all, 2018 holds a lot of challenges for businesses – particularly if you take a global overview.

But, I think this year is full of promise for those of us in PR and communications. The innovation we’ve craved – and seen affect hundreds of other sectors, from entertainment to travel – is about to transform earned media for the better.

Though not everyone in media might feel this way.  After all, it’s clear the advertising, or paid media, industry is facing up to a range of issues, from transparency concerns to the rise of ad-blockers, but earned media is on the cusp of realising its true potential. And, 2018 will see it make some big strides forward.

In the MENA region, I think there’s three big areas where progress in 2018 will see us get nearer our goal of combining art and science effectively in comms and prove its effectiveness and properly attribute results to earned media activity for the first time.

  • Influencers will power global connections

Whether you want to or not, it’s difficult to contain local stories locally. With the rise of the influencer and their use in marketing and comms – across all platforms bloggers, FB, Twitter, Instagram influencers etc – there is no such thing as a local story anymore.  The PRCA MENA Digital PR & Communications Report 2017 shows that 65% of those surveyed in the MENA use influencers on a regular basis and as the discipline of influencer marketing matures, this will only grow.

  • Earned media will benefit from increased focus as other media faces challenges

In 2018, as media channels continue to fragment and digital advertising comes under more pressure to perform, the way brands are marketed and communicate is changing. Yes, the marketing industry is obsessed with paid media, but the importance of earned media is being realised as expectations to achieve results are higher with no additional budgets.  Higher engagement and loyalty is demanded and earned media will be an essential part of the marketing mix to deliver this.

  • AVEs do not measure the true value of communications: we need true accountability

Earned media needs to prove its worth and to do this, the right metrics and proof of success need to be used. Communicators should use all the tools at their disposal and, in particular, continue the battle against AVEs. An outmoded and increasingly irrelevant calculation, the global movement – as articulated by AMEC (https://amecorg.com/how-the-barcelona-principles-have-been-updated/) – is irresistible. It is an essential stepping stone on the journey to true earned media accountability.


Author: Louise Bennett, PR Newswire Cision MEA