Written by Michelle Kane, Solo PR Pro Premium Member and Head Honcho of Voice Matters, LLC
As we enter these last few months of 2018, we’re likely focused on business development and budget planning with current clients. The final quarter of the year is also an ideal time to look at areas where our clients should focus and the trends that may become go-to tactics in 2019. We recently asked our resident “smarties,” our Solo PR Pro Premium members, for their advice.
It All Starts with a Plan
You’ll be able to hit the new year running if you take the time to plan now. You might even unearth some new opportunities in the process, such as a new trade show, or new opportunities in the digital landscape.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR of the Falcon Valley Group, recommends: “Check all current plans and update for 2019, including your strategic communications plan, crisis communications plan, and anything else relevant. Also, update editorial calendars for 2019.”
“Make a list of competitions your clients could apply for with dates for when they open, entry requirements and when they close,” adds Terri Thornton of Thornton Communications.
Crises – Be Prepared
Depending on their sector, some clients might balk at creating a crisis plan. It’s the one plan you create and hope you never have to execute, but it’s crucial to have at the ready. This is especially true in this era of news breaking every second, where the wrong move on social media could have a dire impact. The ability to tell your brand’s story first and well is more important than ever.
“Every company is a digital company in some way and must be prepared to communicate about data breaches and theft, ransomware, and other ways private information becomes public,” adds Diane K. Rose of DKR Communications. “That goes for securing our own clients' data, as well!”
Fran Stephenson of Step in Communication provides five crisis communication building blocks in this Solo PR Pro blog post, which includes a free download of her e-book, “Managing Your Next Crisis: A Step-By-Step Guide for Travel Organizations.”
We’re using our cell phones to talk again. Not by calling people but through voice search. This report from Wordstream.com, provided by Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, anticipates that by 2020 fifty percent of all online searches will be done via voice. How will this affect client content strategy, events, customer service, SEO, and more?
Ebony Grimsley-Vaz of Above Promotions breaks it down: “PR pros must become knowledgeable in how their clients can use AI for online chat and when their clients should not use it. We'll be relied upon to help guide the flow of the text being used and when the chatbots should pass the conversation over to human employees.”
The State of the Industry
We can expect the continued blurring of public relations and marketing roles, as each works to tell the story of the clients and brands they serve. How best to navigate this evolving landscape?
Sacha Cohen advises it’ll be key to “know the ins and outs of social media and influencer engagement and how to include that in a more traditional PR mix.”
Lourdes Diaz adds, “Another thing to keep in mind is how the marketing industry is changing. Some of the big holding companies are experiencing turmoil, brands are cutting down the number of agencies or bringing work in-house. How does that affect consultancies or solo practitioners?”
“I also think pros must begin to incorporate agile practices in working with large companies. It is almost expected these days,” said Grimsley-Vaz.
These changes could very well lead to more opportunity for our solo practices, with our ability to pivot and provide value.
We’d love to hear more. What do you have to add with your eye on 2019?