5 PR Predictions for 2018 (and some honorable mentions)

My good friend MJ and are both moms, media junkies, creatives and we both work in the PR industry. Our text threads are typically filled with article links, social media posts, pop-culture analysis, work updates and 'My daughter just did the cutest/grossest thing." *sends picture*  So we said, hey, why not team up and give our thoughts on the industry. Because every week there's something new to talk about! That said, here's our first go of it - what we think 2018 will look like in PR and media. Check it out and be sure to visit MJ over at Carte Blanche, Ltd. Thanks for reading! 

In just the last two months - we’ve seen team-ups, breakdowns, progress and mayhem across the media landscape. Powerhouses like ESPN, Mashable, Buzzfeed, Saveur, Conde Nast and Snapchat have each gone through rounds of layoffs. For the first time ever, the Golden Globes ceremony was live-streamed on NBC’s website and the pre-show red carpet live-streamed exclusively on Facebook. ESSENCE and xoNecole were acquired by Black companies. And 45’s “Fake News Awards” (*eyeroll*) was released via Twitter.

It’s a lot. It isn’t February yet.  And it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. The media landscape is ever-evolving and rapidly changing, which has real implications for PR pros. Here are some of our predictions on what that will look like for 2018:

1 - Better stories and content.

Let’s speak it here.  Many of us Americans began the year, yearning for #44, and at the end of the year, he once again reminded us why.  Whatever your thoughts on his accomplishments as president --- white people liked him too much, black people didn’t like him enough --- there is no denying the hope, charisma and class act he brought globally to the perception of American people and the oval office.  At the end of 2017, he reminded us why his position in the White House was as much about humanity as it was about politics and governing our country in, ironically, a twitter post. His twitter post yelled the untold stories of everyday, actually, great Americans.  The post tugged at heartstrings across the country, and therefore validated our deep exhaustion with stories we are being forced to consume.

We should expect more provocative, interesting news in 2018 that steers away from the White House and back to the souls and interest of the people.  Here are some of our favorites: Anthony Bourdain's view on Puerto Rico from November 2017, Lolly Bowean, from the Chicago Tribune and her piece on the Chicago film industry, and oh gosh, GQ's piece on Andre 3000. We were able to get lost in over 4000 words from Andre and the writer, Will Welch as they explored fashion, culture, music and mortality walking through the streets of New York, Andre's new home with Andre wearing his own line of T-shirts, the face of Anita Baker.

Our honorable mention stories go to the Hollywood Reporter's piece on Drake and his interest in the film industry. Looks like he is producing a third season of Netflix’s (Top Boy).  So we watched season one and are now salivating for season two.  Then 2018 began with more disruption in our second honorable mention, Aramide A Tinubu’s piece, “Why Is There No Black Press At The Sundance Film Festival?” Enough said.

 Looking for Black press at Sundance...

Looking for Black press at Sundance...

 2 - interesting campaign and election stories.

It will be up to audiences to do the research and us as publicists to get these stories told on the best and most ethical platforms. Find out who owns the outlet and why they chose the tone and direction.  Be educated and knowledgeable.  The underdog candidate, the minority or the segment of folks who can change the trajectory of elections. These will be the new political stories.  We predict these stories could dominate the news cycle, overpower media buys and campaign ads and bring back what "earned" media is. This prediction began to boil in us from Alabama, protests by Kamala Harris and the elevation of the black woman’s voice into the dialogue of the majority.    

3 - tools and the rise of smaller agencies.

Ok.  We will try to simmer down from the great fight outlined in #2 as we get through this second round of predictions.  We noticed last year, smaller agencies are growing. The idea of a PR consultant is normalized.  So our support systems will have to alter their practices too.  We predict they will have to change their price models and adjust for smaller agencies. Agencies (all of them!) are tired of large monthly fees to report results. With ebbs and flow in business, a huge monthly fee is taxing and the ROI is not always obvious.  For years, many separate agencies have shared their reporting and list building software. Who will come along this year and design software that is valuable, effective, productive and inexpensive so individual professionals can report and flourish without having 18 small companies on 2 logins for 1 reporting tool.  Many self employed communications professionals are driving this rethinking of PR tools by tossing their monthly reporting, tracking and list building tool (play on words) memberships for....quite simply, google.   

 Googling

Googling

4 - expect social media to find its place on both PR and creative teams.

This is both common sense and survival. The media and social media space are more intertwined and morphing into each other every day. Notification of news stories are made available first on social. Clients are looking to reach consumers where they are. Everyone, including our 85 year old grandmothers, are on at least facebook, and are overly engaged, dopamine addicts. With this engagement, social media strategies have found their way into more and more PR/marketing plans. Expect this as a to-go-to, not one without the other and hire an expert for your internal team that is, if you haven’t already.  And no we don’t mean an intern.  

5 - less influencers and more influential stories.

Influencers and micro-influencers will keep being in high demand, but a greater emphasis will be placed on strong storytelling and influential journalism.  Outlets will be triple-checking sources and we’ll see fewer sensational “click-baity” headlines as the media at large combats the “fake news” era. Media powerhouses like Huffington Post, just dropped all of their contributors to rely more heavily on traditional reporting.  So expect real, research and objective stories to regain territory. Which takes us right back to...see #1. Better stories and content. The end goal.  

Now we couldn’t close this out without our honorable mentions (not enough intel, research, history, chatter yet mentions):

  • Will we be pitching social media platforms?
  • Will facebook have a newsroom? Will they have reporters delivering news?
  • Expect more layoffs. Ugh. Circle of life.  
  • Independent black media conglomerates purchased by major corps and brands (can you smell shea butter coming out of your Ebony Magazine issue yet?).   
  • The independent podcast evolution like Another Round (holla Buzzfeed).  
  • Movies like “The Post” to play a role in media forecasting, propaganda and dialogue. Think HBO “Newsroom.”
  • Women centric stories.
  • Stories of uprise and disruption.
  • More brands getting it right. Unlike H&M and Eataly. *side-eye*  

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Chevonne Nash is a versatile writer, storyteller and communications strategist. She’s a lover of the digital space and values authenticity, creativity and humor. Chevonne’s expertise is in multicultural communications having done award-winning work for a number of Fortune 500 brands via strategic digital/social content, experiential marketing, media relations and brand partnerships. Chevonne is a wife & mom and balances her need to stay current with being stuck in the 90’s, where you can find her favorite R&B groups, hip-hop albums & TV reruns. She is a proud graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Micaeh Johnson swaps between executing publicity strategy and producing photography work most days. She is a seasoned strategist that has successfully evolved within the changing Public Relations environment to bring contemporary work and value to everything she touches. Micaeh has managed to stay relevant across multiple industries working with talents like Common, brands like Toyota and everyday people at nonprofits.  But first, she likes to live and laugh with her daughter that she lives with in Chicago, IL.