New Decade, New PR Rules: 2020 Game

Predictions and reports related to our business is always a good read in the fast-changing world that we live in. Having said so, one can foresee the decade ahead representing an unparalleled fluctuating point in PR history of more than …. Years old. Indeed, we will witness such change and interruptions in the next 10 years.

The 2020 game, it seems, is already beyond anyone’s imagination.

Exponential growth in technologies combined with irreversible climate changes, introduction of Artificial Intelligence in communications to survival of the fittest, hiring best talent to retaining good resources, spinning story ideas to curating content for brands, from Media approach to Influencer approach, from SWOT of the brand to SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely) and BHAGS, (Big Hairy Audacious) goals. Demographic shifts … Leadership training advisory; From PR to Marketing Communications. Amidst all this change and disruption – we can safely predict – that uncertainty and conflict will only increase.

This article does not represent anything fundamentally new; rather these represent an effort to document some of the visible trends, reports relevant to the practice of public relations in the new decade.

  1. More relevant profession in 2020

Public Relations as a profession, is becoming more relevant than ever before. PR professionals will have a larger mission to become intermediaries of conflict and drivers of a positive change in the society.

  1. Artificial Intelligence will be used to deal with news

One of the newest innovations in technology will gain momentum in this decade of Communication. PR practitioners will be able to help communicators to filter the most relevant use and save time in dealing with information clutter on social media. Public Relations practitioners will be able to use AI to send press release directly to relevant media, send important messages to a specific stakeholders with achieving their goals faster than before.

  1. Demand for new kind of leaders in consultancies

PR consulting in 2020 and beyond will seek new kinds of leadership, beyond the confines of the small and incestuous world of PR consulting. New sources of leadership hiring will be business consulting, marketing, media, research and law among others.

  1. More women in PR entrepreneurship model

Several PR start-ups will set up shop in 2020. Many senior PR professionals from corporate communications background would be coming forward and moving toward the entrepreneurship model primarily because of experience required to offer customised communication solutions to clients. There will be more oppurtunities for women entrepreneurs from Government to encourage entrepreneurship.

  1. The exponential rise in reputation risks

Rising scrutiny, stakeholder activism, inspired influencers hiding behind the power of anonymity, low governance in the digital space, and weak mechanism combined with the speed and power of digital will require an urgent rewriting of the rulebooks of risks and crisis communication.

  1. The increase in paradigm of influencers

The new definition of public relations is about influencing the influencers. We will see continuing shifts in the influence dynamics in the Indian society. Traditional media will slow down – fewer pages, fewer journalists and accelerated move to paid news and content. Some of this we have already witnessed in the end of last decade. Focus on paid content will only increase in 2020 and will no more be the discarded out rightly brands over editorial space.

  1. Increase in organic micro influencers

For the PR professional, this will mean a higher level of complexity to deal with, requiring new abilities to engage a vastly increased number of people with the power to impact and affect business outcomes.

  1. Customised solutions and Integrated Marketing Approach

Consulting has a widely accepted definition – custom solutions for unique business problems. PR practitioners will be seen addressing issues from reputation issues to change management programmes to corporate branding. Successful consultants will be those who operate at the confluence of media, markets, and policy, combined with a sound understanding of digital plays in each of these segments.

  1. A surge in learning and development skill in individuals and firms

For PR professionals continuous learning will take a new meaning in the years to come. There is a massive learning deficit in the PR space today. New competencies in demand would be strategic thinking, research and analytics, crisis communications, knowledge and usage of digital platforms. Learning ‘how to learn’ will be a critical new skill. Consultancies will focus on leadership training in this decade. Training will give way to learning.

Cross pollination of ideas will be important for leadership. Introduce best practices as there are limited established platforms in India market. The new mantra from do unto others is to do unto customers what customer. PR needs to get aligned at leadership with the influx of millennial. What’s also critical is ensuring our stakeholders recognise the delivery of brand promises, which requires proactively shaping communications and key messages that consistently highlight delivery of those promises. To have better penetration with stakeholders, services remain the key differentiator which in the years to come will include human angle + technology. PR efforts will be more on humans and technology than supporting only product-driven campaigns.

Happy 2020!

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Saloni Sood
Saloni is a seasoned communications leader with experience in leading corporates and consultancies in India and globally. After working with Public Relations consultancies for over a decade and then, as Head Corporate Communications for DLF Ltd., she decided to go the entrepreneurial way and founded Brand Talkeez

Saloni has also worked as Editor-in-Chief for a lifestyle magazine, High5.
A trusted adviser to CEOs and Governments on communication and digital marketing way forward strategy, she is skilled in Corporate Communications, Brand Management, Content Marketing, Crisis Communication, Leadership Training and Event Management.

Saloni is an author, blogger, trainer and academician at leading mass communication institutes in India.

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