Although 2012 was filled with exciting PR and social media developments, including London's 2012 Olympic extravaganza
, Prince Harry's Las Vegas scandal
, and a down-to-the-wire race for the U.S. presidency, the coming year is sure to see even further transformations of the media landscape.
1. LinkedIn is the new Facebook. More brands will use LinkedIn to monitor conversations and connect with customers and influencers. New and enhanced features on the site, such as its "endorse" capability (which employs the one-click validation of a Facebook "like") and new profile and company page designs are encouraging users to spend more time building their personal brands with LinkedIn's tools. Companies, particularly in the B2B world, will increasingly recognize its marketing potential. Also, as adoption and activity on LinkedIn surge, journalists will spend more time using the platform for research, identifying sources and breaking stories.
2. Governments (and war) go social. The 2012 election generated record-breaking activity on Twitter, and more recently, the Israel Defense Force and Hamas military used the platform to communicate to international government officials and the public about the violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As citizens in the U.S. and around the world demand increased transparency from governments, officials at every level from local to national will turn increasingly to social media to stay connected with their constituents. Social media will see an increase of political conversations in 2013, driving its adoption as a news source for citizens, traditional media, and the government.
3. The reputable journalist is revived. The rise of blogging and social media has increased the volume of online news and the speed at which it's available, often at the expense of responsible reporting. Misinformation and rumors can spread quickly and trigger considerable backlash, especially when a news organization compromises accuracy in the name of speed (as evidenced by CNN and Fox News's memorable misreporting of the Supreme Court ruling on health care reform). The citizen journalist's 15 minutes of fame are running out and information-overloaded consumers will demand a higher standard of reporting in 2013.
4. PR goes mobile. PR practitioners have learned to draft compelling email pitch subject lines and deliver a message in 140 characters. The next step will be crafting mobile-friendly content as millions of consumers (and journalists) reach for their phones as their primary news source. The Daily taught us that it's not enough to format a publication with a mobile device in mind; rather, the key will be developing content that effectively reaches the right audience at the right time. Delivery is king—but brevity is still queen.
5. Pictures tell the story. The rise of infographics, photo sharing, and visual storytelling will push PR pros and their clients to deploy messages visually in order to compete in a crowded content market. All Things D reported that in August, smartphone users spent more time on Instagram than on Twitter for the first time since Instagram launched in 2010. This is indicative of a broader shift toward visual content in the digital space. As the old saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words"; more important, it might also be worth your customer's attention.
6. PR wins the social media battle.
The debate over which corporate discipline "owns" social media is practically as old as social media itself; PR, marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service (just to name a few) all have skin in the game. As more businesses recognize the opportunities (and threats) that social media present to their corporate reputation, and the demand from stakeholders for direct engagement, they are reaching out to PR agencies and practitioners for support. PR pros, who have long been responsible for managing the dialogue between an organization and the public, will emerge as trendsetters in the social space by providing valuable communications counsel and achieving results that directly impact clients' bottom lines.