Predictions posts seem almost obligatory in December, but it is clear that communications professions face some tough challenges in 2017. Be ready.
In late 2016, the BBC sent reporters to the small Macedonian town of Veles. If you can’t point to Macedonia on a map, you’re not alone. It’s just north of Greece in Europe’s southeast corner. Macedonia is most famous for being the birthplace of Alexander the Great, but now it has a new claim to fame – “fake news.”
The BBC found that many of the fake news stories that emerged during the US presidential election could be traced to Veles, where teenagers published them in order to earn ad revenues.
Fake news is nothing new. There have always been fake stories throughout history, but the era of the social web makes it easier to create and spread, and harder to refute. In 2016 we may well have reached “peak fake.”
The rise of fake news presents a key challenge for communications professionals in 2017. Brands must therefore make sure they have:
– Social listening tools and teams: You must be able to detect stories as they emerge. This is not a new requirement – all brands should have this already – but more so than ever. Stories must not be allowed to spread unchecked.
– A response protocol: It is key to establish the facts and respond quickly. Marketing and PR must be talking to the C-suite, and particularly the legal team.
The phrase “post-truth” entered the common lexicon this year within the context of politics and media, but is something of a misnomer: it assumes that truth hasn’t already been compromised in politics and the press, which we all know it has since the dawn of time.
Aside from “fake news,” here are some other relevant trends for 2017 PR professionals to keep an eye on:
The rise of live social broadcasting
In 2016 we saw many brands experiment with Facebook Livestream and Periscope to broadcast live on social media.
Either can be a great way to enable an audience to access an event when they cannot physically be present, but such broadcasts must be thoroughly prepared and well managed to be effective for remote participants.
Expect to see more live social broadcasting in 2017. It may even become the norm for many press conferences.
Microinfluencers will become more important
As media continues to fragment, mid-tier “microinfluencers” will continue to grow as a persuasive class of influencer. These content creators and commentators may not have the tens of thousands of followers that strong influencers have, but there are more of them and they are closer to their audience. They provide a warmer, more authentic experience and, arguably, generate more trust than those with larger followings.
Search continues to evolve
Search continues to change rapidly. A good mobile experience and inbound links are essential to ranking highly, presenting a challenge to web designers, content creators and PRs alike. Voice search is becoming more prevalent. Semantic and machine learning will develop. Keep an eye on this.
New technologies open new opportunities
We will see more work using drones and virtual reality (VR) during 2017. When it comes to content, PR needs to get smarter about how to present it, and the B2B space should look to consumer brands for ideas, as they tend to be the earliest adopters.
What do you foresee as the key challenges and opportunities for communication professionals in 2017? Let us know in the comments box.
If you would like to discuss how Paragon PR could help you with your digital marketing, please get in touch.
Tags: Digital Marketing, Fake News, Marketing, micro-influencer, PR