More PR agencies now recommend investing in social media influencers over traditional news media, and it’s causing industry pros to drastically rethink the entire PR landscape.
That’s according to the 2018 Global Communications Report, an annual study by University of Southern California (USC)’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 public relations leaders from both agencies and in-house corporations – as well as students – and found nearly three-quarters of them think we’re in for some industry-shaking changes.
“If you think the PR profession has changed, you’re right. If you think it will stop changing, you’re wrong,” wrote Fred Cook, director of USC’s Center for Public Relations. “Seventy percent of all PR professionals believe the PR industry will change considerably or drastically over the next five years. Eighty percent of students feel the same way.”
PR Agencies Are Here to Stay
At least there’s hope for PR agencies. In-house marketing and public relations leaders have long turned to agencies – not just to do intern work like build media lists and pitch reporters, but also to supplement their own teams when it comes to innovations.
PR agencies live and breathe PR. They’re on top of the newest tools, the latest techniques and the leading trends, simply because they manage an entire portfolio of clients, each with unique problems to solve, and that forces them to look for creative solutions.
That’s why, according to USC’s study, those working in an agency feel much more confident about tackling the new challenges related to the big shift in PR:
“Brace yourself, because only 36 percent of all in-house professionals who expect change think their companies are prepared to adapt to that level of change, while 61 percent of agency executives are confident their firms are ready for the future. Students are a little more adaptable. About half (53%) say their classes have prepared them to manage dramatic change.”
And those agencies with a knack for the digital side of PR will have an even greater advantage moving forward. The study’s results show that while the changing media landscape is the No. 1 reason for change in the industry, the second reason is technology, followed by greater access to data.
Not using the latest technology, tools and data-driven techniques to do PR? Then it’s not only the new media landscape you should be worried about – it’s the current one, too.