As you can imagine, the final webinar of the year focused on predictions for 2018 but also how recent PR trends and tech developments were impacting and challenging the industry. There were 4 key ideas which stood out to me and it will be interesting to see how these industry changes, technological advancements and consumer behaviours develop over the course of 2018 and beyond.

#1 How the PR industry is ‘growing up’

It is predicted that 2018 will prove to be a breakthrough year for the professionalism of PR. By ‘professionalism’ we’re referring to the concept of being recognised as a management discipline and holding a stronger authority within business. Recognising the value and importance of PR can help brands or companies to increase the value they offer in turn to clients and consumers.

#2 All life is shifting towards the internet

High speed mobile broadband is only going to continue getting better and with 5G set to land over the next couple of years, connectivity is forever at the heart of digital space. It’s not only the strength of connectivity getting stronger but the size of digital audiences. How’s this for a crazy statistic for you? It’s predicted that by 2030 everyone on the planet will have the resources to be connected and based on the speed of technological growth this could even happen as early as 2025! That means that the changing media landscape will need to be continuously monitored to understand how publics are shifting to new forms of media and where in the world is becoming more connected.

#3 Artificial Intelligence, the future is here!

Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to be a concept that made us think of a sci-fi alternate dimension or futuristic movies but it’s now considered to be ‘normal’ and a part of everyday life. Take the innovative Amazon Echo; simply ask Alexa a question and in seconds you’ve got the answer you’re looking for, the song playing that was stuck in your head or a reminder set to book an appointment. But how does this affect the consumer and their interaction with your brand? AI strips out a layer of mediation, giving one answer rather than search engine results which could mean we will end up marketing to machines and algorithms. Businesses should be looking to stay competitive in this new era of technological advancements and adapt to the changing landscapes or risk getting left behind.

#4 The power of influencers

With different platforms comes different influencers. Whether it’s a gaming guru on YouTube, a healthcare expert on Facebook or a fashion forward icon on Instagram, the goal doesn’t change. Influencers provide a means of developing trust with specific communities through their inspiring lifestyle, image and third-party storytelling.

Brands can successfully latch onto this, associating their products with carefully chosen influencers for maximum conversions by targeting niche markets rather than targeting the market as whole. But marketers are facing a challenge as it’s been suggested that the content is too contrived and unauthentic, potentially pushing consumers back to traditional sources. Although this is true to a certain extent, what the industry is forgetting is the growing realisation that influencers can create long-term relationships through compelling content. Although the post is in the form of a paid advert, the sell can be more powerful coming from the influencer instead of the brand as these followers and consumers love to buy into the lifestyle of their favourite influencers.

With all this in mind, it’s incredibly exciting to see how the world is becoming more connected and the things we always considered to be futuristic are the here and now of everyday life. The marketing landscape is growing and changing at lightning speed and we look forward to seeing how these predictions pan out and what new surprises 2018 has to offer!

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