Year in Review: Top 2018 PR Trends

Kim Bode and Emily Potts discuss public relations at the conference table in 8THIRTYFOUR's office

Somehow we are already nearing the end of another year, and as we look back on 2018, a time that was full of big stories surrounding leading brand names, company scandals, and changes in influencer marketing, our team broke down some of the biggest trends that impacted the industry this year:

Online Reputation Management Rules All

When a consumer is considering using a new brand or business, they will likely do research online, and in that moment, reputation is king. 2018 has been a year where brands are more focused than ever on their online reviews and ratings.

A brand or business that has glowing reviews on Google, Yelp, social media, or other respected third-party review sites has essentially struck gold. On the other hand, if a consumer finds several scathing reviews, unanswered questions, and negative feedback, they will likely move on and not consider using that brand or business in the future.

It is important to have a team who can appropriately monitor, and respond to, timely negative feedback. No business or brand is perfect, and there will of course be problems that come up, so use every opportunity to build up your reputation and have positive interactions with customers.

Crisis PR

2018 saw several big brand blunders that shook consumer bases across the world. Just this year, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Crock-Pot, and Tide found themselves in the hot seat, sometimes through no fault of their own, but because of viral online content that surrounded their brand.

In the fast-moving world of social media and public relations, a brand can become the center of media news cycles within minutes, so, now more than ever, it is important to have a PR team in place who can eloquently address questions and maintain a brand’s reputation in times of crisis. 

Influencer Marketing Shifts

It seems as though social media influencers make the trends list every year, but that is because the concept of influencer marketing is constantly evolving and growing. 2018 was the year for “micro-influencers”, or those who have an audience with under 15,000 followers. When influencer marketing first gained ground, companies only wanted to work with those who had followers numbering in the millions.

Evidence now shows that micro-influencers have a deeper connection with their audience, meaning higher engagement rates and loyalty. Don’t let the number of followers be the only factor you look at when working with an influencer, as you might miss out on a more authentic and successful campaign opportunity with someone who has a smaller audience base.

Integrated Approach

At 8THIRTYFOUR, we already know the importance of integrated communications (hint: it’s in our name), but it seems as though the rest of the industry is finally starting to realize that you cannot rely on just one tactic if you want to successfully engage with consumers.

Digital efforts are tying into PR more and more every day. Whether it be earned media links assisting in SEO efforts, using earned media content for remarketing ads, crafting PR messaging to respond to negative Google reviews, or brands adding a “news” section to their website that contains media mentions to gain credibility, it all plays together, and it works.

As we look to 2019, our team will continue to keep our eye on new and emerging trends that will impact our industry. If your brand or business is ready to crush it next year, and you’re in need of help, give us a call.

Cheers to success in 2019!

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