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The Top 7 PR Trends Forecast for 2013
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Another list! America hearts the list, namely around the hubbub of never-to-be-met resolutions, drinking in the New Year, and acting like you are the only one at the party who knows what in the hell 'Auld Land Syne' really means. Yes, PR fans, it's 2013 and trends are bountiful. The industry is changing. The flacks are evolving. The clients are recognizing. 

How are you looking? 

If you are uncertain, break out a Moleskine and write these down because these trends will rear their coifed wigs from around the corner at some point this year. See what you think.

1. Lead Generation. With ad-equivalency value dying a much bemoaned death, client still search everywhere for a tangible ROI. Sure, "the tonality in that story was off the chain" sounds nice but how does that get sold back to a small business owner's CFO? Whine and complain all you want; if clients demand a number for metrics, you must return the favor with a smile on your face and a media grid in your memo pad. Does your client own the code and administrative rights on his or her website? Then there are a great portion of quantifiable reasons to keep you around. Direct campaigns for traffic. Turn the visitors into leads into sales into dollars. What your objectives for the year? What's your client's pain? What role does PR serve your client? Answer these questions and emphasize lead generation. Besides, you won't have to call sales eight times a day for that ubiquitous "ad run" you never intend on doing. 

2. It Takes a Village. It's nice being the flack who swoops in with the exaggerated cape, letter on your chest and those supposed "one-size-fits-all" tights. It feels good; I get it. That said, cut it out. Your client doesn't need you, but with a dynamic partnership that is consistently and mutually beneficial, that client will want you around more than ever. Marketing is now a multi-level leadership organism, and without a commitment to 'TEAM' (and not the fictional 'I' in the word), those PR and communication efforts will go nowhere. Unless, of course, you are the village idiot...

3. Become Socially Acceptable. BREAKING NEWS: This social media is catching on. Now that we have that out of the way, it's still growing. While Facebook has become nothing more than an online storehouse for someone's ego, many other social networks are growing in popularity. And it seems that the more niche a community has become, the more effective it will be. Case in point, did anyone see this Instagram thingy become a deal? Now you can 'pin' everything. LinkedIn is sprawling with many groups. Every show on Twitter promotes its handles and conversations more than the stories. And for those who insist on living in Mom's basement, there are Ning, Orkut, Plaxo and is that MySpace making a comeback from its Desolation World Tour? I think you get the point. Tweet me if you do. 

4. Hyperlocality. Now that we have reached a day where people on a flip phone may as well look like Gordon Gecko with the brick phone attached to his ear, the onslaught of iPhones and Androids duking it out for your attention says something: "We ain't going nowhere." Additionally, they are finding ways through pushed content to get more hyperlocal with outreach. I have read statistics that have as high as 90 percent of small businesses using a focus of social media outreach for their marketing efforts. Why? Forget the cat across the country. They want the guy across the street. It's about quantifiable metrics, remember? 

5. Don't Panic. If 2012 taught us nothing else, it’s that tragedies of epic proportions can — and will — happen with little or no notice. From Newtown to Sandy, D.C. to L.A., there is always a time to develop a crisis strategy. It should be clear before the event takes place. Organizations of all sizes and industry verticals need to work with PR experts to be proactive in the development of a crisis communication plan to ensure that negative situations can be contained and managed appropriately. 

6. Real-Time Conversations. With the meteoric rise of social media and actual reporters managing their own accounts, it is a piece of cake to reach people for our clients the moment we see a story. Some reporters respond, and when they do, it's like watching that huge Marlin fight the bait as you give yourself Tommy John elbow to ring that joker in the boat. You have immediate access to reporters, and if you don't abuse, you can keep that access. With that access, you may even get a story or two. 

7. Content Strategy. If Bill Gates was right when he opined that "content is king," then for certain its platform is queen. Departments need to understand its medium and how to make it work for the client. If it's social media, consider inbound and outbound marketing as well. They all work together. Looking at advertising in print, then focus on driving online behavior and metrics that way. Looking for the fans and friends, follows and links? Dedicate someone who is boned up on immediate engagement via social media. That voice must be consistent, so be wary of getting made at your resident hipster. Sorry, "consultant." 

Everyone has a list. Most publish that list. This one is based on what I've seen, heard, and executed. Anything on here that tickles your fancy? Ping me about it. Better yet, ping your client. You may be surprised what he or she is willing to do to get out there in front of the masses. You know, like someone I know who seems to have imbibed his weight in grape juice dancing with a pink boa and those Groucho Marx glasses during New Years. (Who, me? Nah, I read books.)

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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