The PRCA has launched the following 18 recommendations for great communications in 2018, following a review of insights and blogposts from a broad range of PRCA members including its PR and Communications Council and Board of Management.
This list of recommendations will be debated at the PRCA’s half day conference, 2018: The Year of…, which takes place on the morning of 25th January in London.
1. Integrated communications: With communications disciplines converging and lines being blurred between practice areas, thinking with the mindset of a traditional PR or public affairs agency won’t work anymore. first step on this journey is proper audience understanding.
2. Misinformation: Businesses will increasingly be exposed to allegations based on misinformation, as distrust of authority and those classed as ‘experts’ continues. The need for intensive social media monitoring, rapid rebuttal, and crisis handling skills will continue to grow.
3. Take a stand: The lines between business, politics and culture are ever more blurred, and organisations can no longer sit on the fence as consumers demand clarity, commitment and action. Marketers and communicators need to harness this trend with authenticity.
4. Ethics: Companies and their supporting PR and communications agencies will have to work harder to maintain high ethical standards as communications techniques continue to be scrutinised.
5. Radical transparency: Brands and businesses will increasingly have to prove that they are adhering to their values. Trendwatching calls this trend ‘Glass Box Brands’ – the idea that people want to see beneath a carefully curated surface to the real culture and integrity of an organisation.
6. Diversity and inclusion: With the publication of the PRCA Census findings this Spring, diversity will be in the spotlight as recognition grows that people who work within PR and communications should broadly represent the world around it.
7. Sexual inequality: Sexual harassment and the gender pay gap were big news stories in 2017, and they will continue to occupy the media spotlight in 2018, with businesses needing to think carefully about their policies.
8. Gender stereotyping: This summer saw the ASA publish an in-depth report on gender stereotyping. They plan much stronger guidelines to end the stereotyping of gender roles and characteristics.
9. Crackdown on social media abuse: Social media providers will continue to be called on to deal with online abuse, following Twitter’s move to ban accounts that propagate hate speech.
10. Datanation: Expect/demand to see campaigns that are measured on indicators that truly impact on a client’s bottom line. We’ll see more data analysts coming on board within agencies, as well as the up-skilling of agency employees with specific data analysis skillsets.
11. Artificial Intelligence: PR and communications will continue to find ways to use AI to take out the laborious tasks. But as an issue there will be more crisis handling around AI’s ethical controversies.
12. Sensory immersion: 2018 will add another dimension, literally, to Virtual Reality. Sensory immersion will digitise touch, smell, and taste – creating a truly 4D experience.
13. Business leadership becomes social: Many brands have turned their leaders into social media influencers. Expect 2018 to be the year this trend becomes mainstream.
14. Story Time: From Instagram stories to mixed reality experiences, brands are increasingly using narratives in new ways, to capture attention and build a loyal following. Companies need to stop talking about themselves and let other, more authentic voices take the spotlight on their behalf.
15. Test and learn: As the pace of change increases, organisations of all sizes are assuming more of a start-up mentality. Crowdsourced ideas and rapid innovation are the order of the day, with live testing and beta operations becoming the norm.
16. Brand play: Smart organisations will drive purpose and personality through every customer interaction by delivering the unexpected and turning the mundane into a game, to activate and reward consumers.
17. GDPR: 2017 was the year of talk, 2018 will be the year of action. There will be more transparency as the new rules are implemented, and this will impact how we communicate directly with consumer audiences.
18. Beyond Brexit: Companies and agencies will focus on lobbying for the specifics of what they’d like to see in the ‘post-Brexit’ environment. But pushing anything through in the political cacophony of 2018 is going to be challenging.
It’s great to see so many ethical points in this list and this showcases the importance with which ethics are being considered within the industry. It would be great if ore companies looked to utilise these rules over the next year.