2019: PR and marketing pros give their predictions for the coming year

The rise of Facebook groups, the importance of transparency and a move away from vanity metrics – here, we share our PR, marketing and communications predictions for 2019.

James Dixon, head of digital

The dramatic algorithm changes that Facebook introduced at the beginning of 2018 shook many brands who found out the hard way that they didn’t own their ‘owned communities’ – they merely leased them.

2019 is the year that digital PR will help brands replace that lost organic reach.

Community-led groups and events were the big winners from Facebook’s algorithm tinkering, making the admins of these groups key to your local distribution and amplification strategies.

Rachel Cullis Dorsett, director

Businesses will value PR professionals as partners and team members – not suppliers on the outside, but vital communications specialists who can really influence the way their customers, potential customers and stakeholders perceive them. Optimistic I know but I am forever hopeful!

Amy Macdonald, PR and marketing manager

A move away from vanity metrics and a focus on meaningful engagement. As the PR industry has grown over the past decade, so has the mix of possible channels, content and media we have at our fingertips.

Because of this, the metrics we can use to analyse our success have grown too, with focus on backlinks, comments and shares – there are almost too many metrics for PRs to monitor.

In 2019, we expect to see a move away from focusing on ‘all of the metrics’ and instead, seeing more businesses and PR professionals focusing on meaningful engagement and strategic conversions.

A great example of this can be seen in influencer marketing, where research shows that for a given influencer, average engagement tends to fall as the number of followers increase; meaning that actually it is sometimes far more effective to work with smaller niche bloggers and content creators, rather than large influencers.

Emma Houghton, account director

We’re saturated with content, so we’ll all have to work that bit harder to achieve the same level of clicks, conversions and conversation. In 2019 it will be even more important to check and challenge yourself before creating content and ask; ‘why am I doing this?’, ‘what do I want to achieve? and ‘who cares?’

Jemma Page, account manager

The continued rise in voice search. Research indicates that one in 10 Brits own a smart speaker – and this has more than likely increased after the Amazon Alexa overload on Christmas Day.

Communicators have to learn how to produce content that is going to be easily found in search, both online and by voice-activated devices.

Questions are key. Think about what you’d say to Alexa, Siri or Google and start crafting content around these search terms.

Ash Dhindsa, senior account manager

2019 will be the rise of all round more simple communications. The brands that get their messages across start with the person they’re trying to reach and work backwards to create their campaigns.

This means we’ll see fewer press releases in the traditional format and a focus on creative content that actually matters to people, such as a compelling video.

Fay Clarkson, account manager

Honesty, transparency and integrity will become ever more important as people become increasingly mistrustful of the mainstream media.

Rose Hayes, account director

I think clients will finally start agreeing that they can't and shouldn’t be doing every social media channel under the sun and filling them with content just for the sake of it – just the relevant ones and done well. Facebook pages and groups will become a comms channel in their own right – a valuable way of reaching communities.

Katie Nelson, account executive

We’ve entered a time of ‘social care’ and consumers will continue to seek authenticity, and the industry will need to continue to find ways to truly connect with communities in a meaningful manner – not just through publicising and marketing.

In the influencer sphere, authenticity is incredibly prevalent after certain viral stories surrounding staged or photoshopped Instagram imagery in 2018.

A survey for BBC Radio 4 showed that 82% of people who took part said it was not always clear when an influencer had been paid to promote a product, and during 2018 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched new guidelines to help influencers stick to the rules.

During 2019 I expect we will see this clarity of rules and advertising declaration extended to celebrities as well as influencers, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has already embarked on an investigation into social media stars and their product endorsements.

Tom Snee, account manager

Brands that get their multimedia content right will win big in 2019. There have never been more ways to tell clients’ stories, but that has made picking the right medium all the more important (and difficult).

The rise of the podcast has shown that longer-form multimedia still has its place alongside quick video hits and gifs, so companies that know their audience can deliver exactly the right content to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Sarah Howells, account director

Many businesses will have a plethora of content sat on their website as they went all guns blazing into the blogsphere as part of their PR and marketing strategies.But having far too many pages for Google to crawl through can be counterproductive.

Take time to review the current content on your website, refresh it into a different format (infographic or video) and make it easier to discover.

This year, the owned content on your website should be adding value to your readers so you can own the digital space in your area of expertise.

Find out more about how we can help your brand here.

By Liz Cartwright

Liz heads up the team and set up Cartwright Communications in 2006 after working as a journalist for more than 20 years on titles including the Nottingham Post and Daily Mail. Liz’s PR experience spans the property, professional services and public sectors and she has significant crisis communications and internal communications expertise.