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Light at the end of the tunnel

As the fragile economy starts to show signs of strengthening, the outlook for PRs in 2014 is largely one of opportunity. As PR budgets grow and new business opportunities increase; agencies, corporates and start-ups are clearly growing in confidence and the industry is starting to see light at the end of a very long tunnel. Couple that with the fact that there are now far more opportunities to demonstrate the business value of PR, resulting in the influence of communications expanding at Boardroom level, we can now start to look forward, instead of lamenting the past. So, as we start our upward climb, it’s time to take stock of the current PR landscape and the trends that are aiding the green shoots of recovery. Here’s a handful to get us started… Content and Curation is key Brands that still see themselves as providers of information, rather than curators or qualifiers, are doomed to fail in this new communications landscape. As Joe Pulizzi stated in his article on the subject, a company’s job is ‘like that of a museum curator, it is to unearth the best content on the planet in your niche, so that your museum doesn’t close down for a lack of visitors.” Brands are waking up and realising that an audience-centric mindset is what will power their communications efforts, so expect much more brand journalism in the year to come. Companies also need to accept that fans now have the ability to create their own content about their brand. It’s therefore important for them to work with their superfans, providing them with the tools to promote the brand, in a way that reflects positively on the company as a whole. It’s all about trust and giving up a little bit of control. Measurement Continues to be a hot topic within the industry as clients continue to demand return on investment on their PR spend. As a result, analytics are improving to the point where PRs can make fairly good and accurate estimates of ROI. Companies and brands that have silos between different departments, different agencies, and different functions will face ever stiffer challenges from competitors who are smarter with their data and the insights they get from it. The Internet of Things gets more real 2013 was a showcase year for the Internet of Things. We saw more evidence of the crossover of digital into real life with developments such as Google Glass to 3D printing. Another example of this is Google’s announcement last month of its acquisition of Nest Labs – one of the first major success stories of the Internet of Things era. 2014 and 2015 will continue to see further adoption of the Internet of Things as accessibility increases and costs decrease. For businesses, this means getting more creative and having tools that enable greater creativity in what you can produce. And finally... the talent race will be tougher than ever. Creative skills and analytical skills, due to the trends above, will be in greater demand than ever, with a talent pool that’s smaller than ever. The war for talent was a term coined by Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company in 1997 and it is still as prevalent today as it was pre-recession. If not more so. Employers are all too aware that as the market improves, they are at risk of losing their strongest people. Therefore the focus of 2014 and beyond will be on developing, recognizing, rewarding and retaining talent.

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Author: Katie Simpson

Working in the Communications practice at Hanson Search, Katie leads the Corporate Affairs and Financial PR team. No shrinking violet, clients and candidates alike know Katie for her tenacious, ‘dog with a bone’ attitude, meaning she leaves no stone unturned in her search approach!

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