What will 2018 be remembered for in the world of communications?

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As 2018 draws to a close, we take a look at some of the changes to media channels that we have used in the past twelve months, and trends for 2019.

The rise and fall of Facebook

In 2017 the most popular social media platform was Facebook. In 2018, however, Facebook had a tough year, after endless privacy scandals and ongoing trust issues from users. The social media’s popularity has taken a hit.

Luckily for Facebook, Instagram is part of its empire, and 2018 has been an exceptional year for the photo-grid based social media.

This year, Instagram dethroned Snapchat as the most-used social media platform among teens, and perhaps the biggest story of 2018 is the rise of Instagram stories. The volume of brands posting Instagram Stories has increased by 400 per cent this year.

Facebook may have the largest number of users, but ‘Instagrammers’ tend to be much more engaged with content. The increased popularly in stories has provided an opportunity for some brands to target their audience more effectively on this channel than through a Facebook advert.

Influencer Marketing

Earlier in the year, media chatter was about the value of social media influencers, with many companies cracking down on ‘fake followers’.

Brands such as Unilever led the way when it came to preventing the endorsement of fraudulent influencers when the firm announced it would not work with any influencers who buy followers.

The power of the influencer has grown significantly. In 2018, however, it seems consumers have become more resistant to the influence of ‘mega-influencers’. After Instagram introduced a number of new features that ensured influencers were clearly signposting paid for content, it became much easier to identify which accounts were promoting almost any product for a fee.

In 2019, companies are likely to gain more valuable engagement by investing in mid to micro-sized influencers whose passions align with the values of the brands they are promoting. Ensuring the content being shared is genuinely enjoyed and used by the influencer, even if it is sponsored, allows consumers to trust both the influencer and the brand.

More media, fewer journalists.

A challenge that all PR’s have been facing this year is the continued loss of journalists and a decline in traditional media channels. While the amount of content shared each day is increasing, the massive shift to digital continues to impact many traditional media outlets. Changes at Johnston Press are particularly worrying for us all.

This loss of print ad revenue has seen a huge increase in paid content. Opportunities such as opinion features, thought-leadership pieces and regular columns are increasingly only being offered in line with advertising spend.

A change in media consumption trends

Ofcom data reported that 16- to 34-year-olds now watch more than two-and-a-half hours a day of non-broadcast content. This year also saw daily watch time of YouTube among 18- to 34-year-olds exceed the one-hour mark, according to Comscore.

This substantial increase in consumption of non-broadcast content, such as Netflix, allows consumers to avoid adverts. Even on platforms that do advertise such as Instagram stories, people are able to skip past the advert and continue to view their friend’s stories. Of course, canny PR’s will find opportunities in this change!

Another interesting report from Campaign revealed that watch time for “explainer” videos on YouTube has doubled in the past year. While there has been a reduction in consumers watching broadcast content, the number of people engaging with education-focused videos provides brands with an opportunity to reach their target audience by repurposing content.

2018 has been a jam-packed year, but we love keeping ahead of trends so we can make the most of them for our clients. Wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Five ways to prepare the perfect PR photograph

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You know the saying – “a picture is worth a thousand words”, well this is never more true than within the media industry. In the battle to make your content stand out from the crowd, it is essential to have punchy, engaging and high quality imagery that illustrates the copy and can be maximised across the media; on websites, social media, newsletters and in print.

To help guide you through this process we have listed our top five tips for the perfect photo:

  1. Reflecting the content – if you’ve got a great story or product to shout about, then make sure your image reflects this. A good way to ensure you’re hitting the nail on the head is to look at the article’s headline, then make sure your image encapsulate this.
  1. Captioning – for the sake of the both PRs and journalists it’s important that you caption the photograph with a few well chosen words that explain what is happening or lists the names of the people who are featured.
  1. Quality – in a world where the majority of people have either a smartphone or a digital camera, there is no excuse for fuzzy, poor quality images. A sleek, crisp image will make your organisation look far more professional and will be particularly important if you want your story to be published in print media.
  1. Size matters – high-resolution images are often very large, so its important to make sure that the actual size of the image file is no more than 1MB. Many journalist’s systems reject emails that contain extremely large attachments, so by making sure your image is a 1MB or below, you will ensure that it will reach the intended recipient.
  1. Permissions – for any photos that are going to be used publically or commercially, it is important that permissions are gained from your subjects. The easiest way to do this is to prepare consent forms that can be filled out in person, or alternatively make sure to record names and email addresses so that they can be contacted and their responses seen in black and white.

The PR Show: through the eyes of a fledgling PR

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We sent our intern, Katy Roberts, currently studying PR at Sheffield Hallam Uni, to the PR Show 2013. Finally, (after handing in her dissertation) here’s her take on the trade show’s inaugural run as a fledgling PR professional:  

The first event of its kind for the UK public relations sector, The Public Relations Show was held on the 26th November 2013 at the Business Design Centre in London. The show brought together over 1,000 PR practitioners to share the latest tips and trends currently happening within the industry and was seen as something of a milestone, as an event like this has never taken place before, and yet shows that the PR industry is growing and that the demand for an event such as this is clearly there.

This was particularly exciting for my fellow course-mates and I, because, as fledgling practitioners ourselves, we were excited to have the chance to network with experienced PR professionals and experience the wide range of different areas that the public relations industry has to offer.

The event was hugely popular and the atmosphere was both exciting and slightly overwhelming. Surrounded by various stalls from a range of PR agencies and suppliers, I didn’t really know where to start! The conference was really useful for harnessing my networking skills, chucking me in at the deep end.

Once I’d gotten into the swing of things, I felt a lot more confident. I found myself engaging in conversations with senior PR professionals, and I picked up loads of really useful tips about being a fledgling PR professional, almost ready to go out into the industry. I also learnt about a wide range of different services that the PR industry uses, such as media monitoring and social media management and their importance within the world of PR. I’d heard of some of these, such as Gorkana, but the conference really helped open my eyes to just how broad the PR industry is.

A really great aspect of the PR Show was the wide range of really interesting talks, from a number of leading practitioners and PR agencies about a huge range of different topics. Some of the leading speakers included people such as Alan Aiken, the Executive Director of Communications for the UK government, Peter Bowles, the Creative MD at Dynamo PR and Rob Cartwright, the Global Corporate Practice Director at Ketchum PR.

The talks themselves ranged from “Aligning PR with corporate strategy”, held by Alistair Smith, the managing director of corporate communications for the Barclays group, to “How technology is changing internal communication” held by Malcolm Cotterell and Kate Barnes, Development and Engagement Manager and Employee Engagement Advisor, respectively, at CrossCountry Trains.

Other talks focused on the challenges of healthcare PR, successful creative campaigning on a low budget and quantifying success by monitoring social media measurement, to name but a few. I feel like the talks on creative campaigning on a low budget and on social media management would have been especially useful for a fledgling practitioner like myself just starting out in the industry.

My only wish is that some of these talks were made more accessible for students of the PR industry, maybe by providing a season ticket or concession rate for some talks would have been incredibly useful. There is also far more scope for engaging students, break out sessions or fringe events covering topics such as graduate schemes, professional membership and talks from specific PR areas, would be widely welcomed.

All in all, I really enjoyed the day – it was incredibly interesting and provided me with a useful insight into the industry that I’d not had before. Did you attend the PR Show 2013? What did you think?