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#PR: What Six Gurus Say about PR in 2016
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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In a recent column in PR News Online, six major PR gurus shared five tips on what PR should concentrate on in this near year of 2016. (For the original article and the names of the six gurus, click here.) Of interest to us all should be what the six thought leaders in our profession think must become part and parcel of good PR work this year:
  1. Don't Put Copy Out Just to Be Seen. Basically speaking, the gurus suggest we avoid content pollution. We should be smart storytellers above all else. As Andrew Bowins, VP, corporate reputation, Samsung Electronics America, noted to the president and chief innovator of the W20 Group: “In 2016 communicators need to look in the mirror and decide if they have become content polluters. In the frenzy to be brand publishers and leverage digital channels we may have forgotten the basic rules of PR: communicate with purpose; target your audiences and be relevant. Pull back the throttle a little, embrace data to understand your audience and shape content that actually stirs a desired reaction.”
  2. Content Marketing Will Become Passe. Those working in brands who do not understand the difference between marketing and PR will fail in reaching their intended audiences. As Katie Paine noted, the new merged digital environment of marketing and PR often confuses what good PR does — building relationships and creating “true organic engagement.” She says the result will be simply that content marketing “will hit the saturation point. The people brands are trying to reach simply will ignore everything most companies spew.”
  3. PR's Love Affair with Measurement Tech Will Sour. The focus of recent years on all the measurement technology and data results will shift once companies realize that it takes trained, intelligent, and knowledgeable humans to interpret both the tech and the data. Look for clients to pull back on tech solutions to measurement needs until they have the human-based insights to digest the data already accumulated before proceeding further.
  4. Good PR People Will Be a Challenge to Locate and Pay. With many of the recognized pros in the business looking to retire soon and the increasingly virtual and freelance nature of the business, good PR people are going to be a challenge to locate. Recruitment is, therefore, going to become more and more what clients will put time and effort into. As Ronn Torossian, founder/CEO of 5WPR, commented: "With 30% of the U.S. workforce self-employed or working for those who are self-employed, in 2016 it will be a fact of business that virtual will matter more."
  5. Good Writing, Video, and Mobile Apps Can Result in Better Engagement. Torossian, whom I mentioned above, noted in a column he wrote about 10 trends in PR for 2016 that video, SEO, and mobile optimization were going to be key areas this year. In the theme of avoiding content pollution (see no. 2 above), he notes: "Many PR pros still fail to fully comprehend the extent mobile platforms can be exploited. Thanks to improvements in tracking data, and the innovations of app creators, the potential to track and influence engagement is amazing. This growing realization of mobile’s potential leaves most clients wanting to include a mobile channel to achieve their goals, but it is not a magic wand. Similar to trends in online marketing, better results occur when mobile is used with a purpose, rather than producing an app for the sake of having an app."

    Torossian also made an observation regarding viral content that we should all heed or dismiss to our peril: “Technology changes, people do not, however, and neither has the importance of tracking. With tracking being easier than ever, for 2016 the focus should not be on creating viral content, but rather on how good your content is at creating engagement. It is no longer enough to be a good storyteller, because in a flooded marketplace of bombastic storytellers, being useful can be even more valuable than being entertaining."

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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