Planning for Success: 14 Top PR and Integrated Marketing Communications Trends for 2014.
Planning for Success: 14 Top PR and Integrated Marketing Communications Trends for 2014
By Kenneth Kracmer, Managing Partner and PR Director, HCK2 Partners
It’s hard to believe that 2013 came and went so quickly. Fortunately, consensus is that it was a pretty good year for communications and marketing professionals alike. Looking back at 2013, most of the 13 trends we anticipated came to fruition. There is definitely a return to strategic planning geared toward identifying integrated campaigns that possess clear calls to action and measurable results.
Those of us who lived through 2008, and the years that immediately followed under the economic downturn, know the impact it had on the marketing communications industry, clients, corporations, agencies and hiring. Anyone responsible for hiring in 2013 knows PR and marketing professionals are once again very much in demand (also a top prediction made on last year’s list).
As a result of this momentum fueled by growth and optimism, there is no shortage of trends to anticipate for 2014, which is convenient since this list increases by one additional prediction each year—barring any major negative event or market correction, we should be happy this time next year.
Without the benefit of a dramatic drumroll, here’s a breakdown of the 14 marketing trends to watch for in 2014:
- Finding the right marketing mix remains an art, not a science. Now that Integrated Marketing Communications strategies appear to be here to stay (for a while), it is important to determine just how much emphasis to place on each element since resources and budgets are still finite.
- Communications and marketing pros are going retro and reinstituting increased number of email campaigns.For a number of years, the use of email declined, but many are rediscovering the value of direct contact and a clear call to action that is not always achieved through advertising or social media campaigns. Note to readers, email campaigns are only as good as the list you have, so create, update and maintain good databases.
- A clear, consistent, concise, customized content strategy is vital to success. Positioned as the foundation and building block of any successful integrated campaign, it is necessary to review and refresh key messaging on an annual basis. Dynamic content will need to be tailored to reach and engage target audiences, and timing will be equally important.
- Social media is here to stay but continues to evolve. Social media pros were among the hardest candidates to identify and hire in 2013. We don’t expect that to change for another year or two. Avoid jumping on bandwagons. Just because competitors are doing it, does not mean it is the best use of time and resources for your client or company. Determine who your target audiences are and then identify the best channels for engagement.
- Identify and interview candidates before you need them. For the first time in many years, demand for talent is so high that some undergrads have jobs secured before they actually graduate. There was a recent article that resulted from a poll, indicating that PR jobs would grow by 23 percent, while journalism jobs continue to decrease.
- If you did not overhaul your website in 2013, this is probably the year to do it. SEO strategies have evolved and there are better tools for managing content strategies that keep your site fresh, relevant and engaging. A content management system or CMS-based site might cost more initially, but it will pay off in the long run.
- Mobility solutions continue to gain momentum. Smart phones are ubiquitous and tablets are this year’s hottest holiday gift. Digital media is here to stay so adapt and optimize your strategy accordingly.
- The transition from traditional print to digital collateral will continue to accelerate. While there are still a few vertical industries that still rely heavily on print collateral, most marketers recognize the value and efficiency of digital materials which can still be printed on demand when necessary.
- Client case studies and testimonials will only increase in value for your business. While it still remains a challenge to secure permission to use client references and endorsements in sales, marketing and PR materials, it is worth the time and effort, given the value and credibility that comes with third-party validation for your client or company.
- Internet advertising campaigns and strategies will become a more significant portion of the marketing mix.Experts predict that Internet advertising will comprise nearly 25 percent of the entire ad market by 2015.
- If you haven’t already done so, check out the statistics on the impact visual marketing has when combined with a content strategy. Consider leveraging infographics or custom charts to summarize and reinforce your content.
- As a marketing tool, video is here to stay… at least for a while. Given the appeal, communicators are seeking new, creative ways to integrate video into content strategies and campaigns. Consider that each month more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube and more than 6 billion hours of video are watched there. That’s almost an hour for each person on Earth, which is up more than 50 percent from last year.
- For PR pros, revisit your media pitching strategies. In 2013, there were continued cuts in newsrooms while the number of total publications actually grew due to an increase in the number of digital media outlets. Basically, you have more opportunities to reach audiences more directly but you don’t have the luxury of time and interest from your media targets – make every pitch count.
- Networking is more valuable than ever. Online tools, such as LinkedIn, allow you to efficiently and effectively determine the targets that will help you grow personally and professionally, but it still helps to have a personal touch. Reach out often and expand your sphere of influence with the movers and shakers in your business community. It’s easier than you think.
Clearly, there is much to consider as you plan for success in 2014. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
As always, I love hearing feedback in the comments section about your predications and what you’re doing to prepare for them in your specific industry.