Survey: 3 PR trends in tactics, measurement and organization for 2019

For public relations pros, this year combines vital elements: compelling narratives to reach audiences and solid metrics to see how effectively those narratives engaged those audiences.

2019_PR_Trends

The emotion of storytelling and the clarity of hard data must mesh for PR pros in 2019.

The 2019 JOTW Communications Survey explores ongoing and emerging trends in public relations.

Below are two noteworthy findings:

1. Storytelling, analytics and thought leadership are the top PR tactics and trends.

The respondents identified the tactics, techniques and procedures as (combined) “more important” or “much more important” as follows:

  • Storytelling (76 percent)
  • Data and analytics (75 percent)
  • Thought leadership (70 percent)
  • Measurement (66 percent)
  • Content marketing (64)
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Though not a majority, those with the most votes for less important were:

  • Press releases (33 percent)
  • Awards programs (31 percent)
  • White papers (36 percent)

These tactics are all complementary and perhaps interrelated. They also fall well within the PR bailiwick. These selections are consistent with the same survey last year, where storytelling, thought leadership and content marketing ranked as the top three.

2. PR pros are measuring online engagement and email efficacy.

Almost half of the respondents (48 percent) say they have measurement programs in place. That an additional 41 percent “sort of” measure is understandable given the effects of communications—tying efforts to a direct result like a sale, vote or behavior change is hard—is notoriously difficult to measure.

About one-third (29 percent) think they do an adequate job of PR measurement; 46 percent say their efforts need improvement.

The most common metrics that comms pros track include:

  • Web traffic (73 percent)
  • Impressions (66 percent)
  • Estimated site traffic (60 percent)
  • Mentions (57 percent)
  • Email open rates (52 percent)

The related comments help put these findings in context:

  • “Ours is a business where business usually comes in via referrals or business development efforts. PR is the ‘icing on the cake’ but no PR on its own is going to convince a client to ask us to build a $100 million project.”
  • “Impossible to draw a solid connection between our outcomes and business outcomes. We can only show alignment.”
  • “People within organizations have their own agendas and this translates into what gets measured and how. Determining the value of these focal points to the organization is sometimes suspect.”

Frank Strong is founder of Sword and the Script Media. A version of this post first appeared on Sword and the Script, where  you can the survey’s full results.

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