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PR Hub is an independent virtual community of passionate, experienced, and leading Public Relations professionals in Nigeria. The Community brings together the best brains in the industry to discuss salient topics, support one another, and to proffer solutions to economic and national issues using the tools of public relations.
PR Trends of the Last Decade
1 The social media ‘tsunami’
The start of the last decade in 2010 heralded an explosion in the use of social media in what we now term – the social media ‘tsunami’.
The increasing need to connect gave rise to several social media platforms and the death of some prominent ones like ‘Blackberry’. Simply put, the last decade was the era of social media ‘tsunami’ with over a billion active users on Instagram only monthly. This figure is poised to increase in this decade as more people crave connectivity.
The social media tsunami also demystified the use of celebrity endorsement for brand promotion. The last decade saw the creation of many digital influencers who invariably have large followers on their social media handles and became instrumental in promoting brands from all sectors. Digital celebrities such as Broda Shaggi, Tahooma, Woli Arole, Pamilerin, Woli Agba, Josh 2 Funny etc gained prominence. They also became the go-to influencers in place of the established celebrities that brands used to engage for endorsement purposes prior to this time.
2 The Rise of ‘Portfolio’ PR firms
All told, last decade could also have been described as the SME decade. As millions left paid employment, either voluntarily or involuntarily, small businesses sprang up all over the country with each one eager to work with PR professionals and become known. These enterprises could not afford the services of full-fledged PR/Communications Agency creating a lacuna that private practitioners rose up rapidly to fill by floating ‘one-man PR Agencies. Today, we have Practitioners we call ‘portfolio practitioners’. These practitioners have no physical offices and little overhead, they are therefore agile, nimble and flexible in budgeting and activations to deliver results for their clients.
NB: These one-man firms are also SMEs.
3 Power shift from traditional media practitioners to citizen journalism
Before the advent of the social media, traditional media practitioners like journalists and media owners were predominantly the ones who wrote and thus shaped agenda the world over.
Through the 2010s bloggers and other citizens took advantage of emerging technologies to write their opinions and publish on their blogs, social media pages and platforms. As their reach grew, they started gaining the privilege to wield power and inﬂuence. Sharing of information through live videos and pictures in real time emanated from this trend and has had significant impact on how fast information is disseminated.
Now, no one waits for 24 hours to get breaking news from traditional media anymore. Today, from any where in the world, if there is internet, anyone can break news. In fact, today, the traditional media now play catch up to citizen journalists, keeping taps on them for trend and breaking news
The unprofessionalism of some citizen journalists is cause for concern. They are creating a new menace – fake and unsubstantiated news
4 The prominence of PRCAN-gave the industry TOMA
The works of PRCAN Executives starting from the pioneering president, Nn’Emeka Maduegbuna to Chido Nwakanma helped to reposition the profession within the last decade.
Their efforts enabled some key practitioners and agencies who previously saw each other as competitors, to appreciate the need to form alliance of PR practitioners. This umbrella is PRCAN and it continues to advocate for the use of only agencies registered with NIPR and PRCAN by government and private companies. This conversation is still ongoing although it is obvious a lot more still needs to be done.
5 Transparency in crisis management
The last decade witnessed some sort of transparency from the part of brands to their customers/clients. The openness was forced by the emergence of digital technologies.
Before the social media, tsunami, brands could get away with murder, literally. The social media tsunami made it possible for customers to hold brands accountable. Customers/clients now demand that they be treated with respect. Firms are compelled to agree.
The immediacy of social media equally has other advantages. When there is crisis, brands can reach the customers quickly to tell their side of the story either through an apology or a rebuttal.
In addition, brands can manage their reputation better especially when it comes to online reputation management. They can exploit the direct connection with customers for good.
PR Trends of the New Decade – 2020 and Beyond
1 The rise of ‘minute’ influencers
The last decade witnessed the rise of many inﬂuencers but this one will be populated by what we would like to call ‘minute’ or ‘last mile’ inﬂuencers. Communications will tend to be more targeted. So, the need to get more influencers with local appeal will rise. A new set of influencers will be created because of this trend.
2 PR will harness AI for improved productivity and growth
Technology is expected to become more pervasive. The use of technology to achieve PR objectives will rise. Artificial intelligence (AI) is projected to lead this charge. AI will empower PR. It will take over mundane and repetitive tasks like scheduling, social posting, meeting notetaking, content creation, SEO strategy, and analytics so that PR professionals can focus on functions that require cognitive capabilities which are beyond AI’s capabilities.
3 The Rise of Video New Release
With the commanding influence of videos in marketing communication, sophisticated brands will begin to adopt video news release (VNR) to reach more audience. The VNR will help fill the increasing demand for information and stories precipitated by the 24-hour news cycle and social media trends. The VNR will emerge as an important PR tool for helping organisations to gain media coverage.
4 THE QUEST FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFILIATIONS WILL INCREASE
Conversations around foreign affiliations/partnerships/ownerships will grow this decade as the business environment becomes more competitive for PR Agencies. There will be mergers of agencies or inter-agency cooperation between local and foreign agencies as more foreign organisations enter the Nigerian market. Foreign firms and other multinationals entering the market will come in with their PR firms who would need to seek local agency partnerships to operate here.
There will be more PR consultancy start-ups in this decade and a lot of collaborations among professionals to deliver or render PR services. Co-creation hubs for office workspace will begin to thrive. To remain competitive, PR firms will extend the scope of their operations, improve capacity and capability, and explore new businesses opportunities and options.
5 The Influence of industry regulators (NIPR, PRCAN)
The influence of industry regulators, such as NIPR and PRCAN would either rise or decline depending on how they manage the industry in the coming days. If they can bring the industry players together and foster a sense of belonging, their influence will rise. They will then earn appreciable respect from critical stakeholders in recognition of their efforts. States and Federal governments appointing core PR practitioners for the role of media advisers, information ministers/commissioners will become the norm.
However, their influence could also wane. This could be the direct result of their inability to control the continuous disruptions in the digital space. They would need to work together and in consonance with the national assembly to enact and pass necessary laws for regulation. The idea should not be to gag but rather encourage, promote and facilitate using best practice.
6 Consumer behaviour and dynamics will lead brands conversation
The consumers will continue to steer conversations and brands must strategically align to build a strong brand reputation. Consumer behaviour and dynamics will lead brands conversation. This will be the premise for the sort of stories that would be created, developed and deployed. Consumer-generated content will become increasingly relevant. Human interest angle content will take the lead.
7 Conversations around binary sensitive issues will become more pronounced
Brand custodians will begin to take into consideration binary sensitive issues when creating and deploying communications. People will become more vocal in advocating their causes and uninhibited in debating their viewpoints. PR professionals need to stay ahead of the curve.
8 Intellectual property protection
Many more people will delve into PR writing via writing brand contents. There will, therefore, be massive creation of content across a growing number of platforms. The need to protect content will become even more endemic and the calls for appropriate penalties for intellectual property theft will become louder.