PR and Communication Trends in 2020

The marketing and brand communication strategies have been constantly evolving, with the rise of the new age customer population with new preferences, likes and dislikes. With PR becoming increasingly important tool for all kinds of organisations, irrespective of their size or industry, PR pros need to be in sync with what is working with their audience. There is a need to have a detailed understanding of what works for their audience and hence, focus on creating a communication strategy that can appeal to a wider set of customers. 

As we kick-start the New Year, there are a few trends that are expected to rule the public relations and communications community over the course of the year. It is important to be aware of these trends and be prepared to leverage them to the best of the brand’s advantage.

Here are some of the key trends for PR and communications in 2020:

Digital influencers and new-age channels

As expected, digital will lead the way and drive PR. It will be a key component of all public relations and communication strategies. Influencers, especially across analysts, media and research industries, will play an important role in driving successful communication campaigns. It is expected that the brands will be judicious in exploring associations with influencers. They will be verifying influencers and tracking ROI very closely, so as to ensure that they run impactful campaigns.

The year 2020 will also see brands engaging with micro-influencers to help create brand awareness and create positive brand equity. Consumers will become more vary of ‘fake news’ and skeptical of sponsored content. Hence, they will turn to their friends on social media for advice. Establishing a strong, organic connection with be a key focus area for brands, across industries.

Also, new age channels will see increased momentum. These include channels like Tik Tok that has seen an exponential increase in users in the last one year. Brands will have to revisit their strategies so as to use these channels to the best of their advantage.

The role of digital in PR campaigns will evolve in 2020 and beyond, led by better targeting and customised messaging to reach out to specific audiences, with the millennial generation acting as the catalyst to push this change. 

Data will be the king

Interestingly, interpreting data has become a vital skill for every PR professional. In 2020, data will play a bigger role than ever before.  It will be required for guiding PR efforts, measuring the ROI, determining the overall value as well as business impact from a PR campaign.

The PR efforts this year will need to be smarter and more engaging than ever before. This is because there is an information overload due to information being pushed to customers across multiple channels like social media, television, radio and on-ground/ print advertising. As a result of this, people tend to declutter and only respond to relevant content. The year will witness PR pros focusing on stronger storylines and impactful messaging for a specific set of audience. There will be no one-size-fits-all.

Going vernacular 

The communication strategy for a brand with a pan- India presence will be designed keeping in mind the vernacular and regional flavor. Today, a number of emerging and established brands have started focusing on vernacular communication, across their marketing campaigns. The year 2020 will see more brands taking the vernacular route as it will help them to build better local and cultural connects with their audience.

Content is the key

Communication strategies and execution plans will be based on driving conversations with the target/ existing customers. The era of one-sided push communication is over. Hence, 2020 will be all about creating conversations that in turn help the brand to connect with the customers and keep them engaged. 

Content will play a key role in creating communication tracks that are not only compelling and well-articulated, but also lead to conversations on the digital/ social platforms.

The year will see an increase in interactive content. Content marketing will shift focus to give people what they want. Companies will experiment with new ideas like augmented/virtual reality, gamified quizzes, polls, GIF and video led contests, online events, amongst others. 

Videos will be more important than ever before

Intelligent content will be the differentiator for brands. A communication well packaged will have a higher impact than some of the conventional marketing mediums. Videos will be a very important tool for brands- be it for launching a new product online, communicating the brand’s vision, sharing the key trends on the profession as well as sharing the story from a partner/ merchant’s standpoint.

The power of videos is that they tell a story that the audience can relate to. Also, they can be shared across multiple channels, including social media, Whatsapp and on-ground promotions.

The new way to pitch

The traditional pitching will change in 2020. PR professionals will have to articulate their messaging well and explore newer and more innovative ways to engage with the audience- maybe a short video to introduce the product on social media, or run an Instagram campaign with their spokespersons and influencers.

For earned media, the PR pros will have to move beyond the traditional pitching to smarter ideas like short videos, exotic experiences and top-class imagery. 

PR as a strategic role

In 2020, PR will not be on the back foot or operate under shadows. It will finally earn the well-deserved seat at the table. The primary reason for this is that more and more organisations will realise the value of brand equity. 

The year will see PR gaining prominence across organisations. A number of new age startups and emerging companies believe that an impactful PR campaign can help build brand awareness and recall in a big way. 2020 will see PR play a bigger role in businesses’ marketing strategies. PR and marketing pros will work more closely and in collaboration in 2020. PR and communication teams will be included in the strategic process, from the initial days.

The community story

2020 will be about building a community story. This will work well for a diverse set of audience who feel connected to a common cause. Brands will aim to connect with communities to build their equity amongst their set of audience. The PR campaign will no longer be only about a brand and its offerings. It will tie to a bigger story that can have a huge impact on a specific community at large.

To conclude, this year will witness a number of changes in the PR and Communication strategies. The primary reason being that the customers will move towards digital detox and will only consume very specific information. PR will move away from traditional storytelling as more PR pros will be open to exploring the power of ‘big data’ and execute more impactful campaigns. Technology will play an important role in understanding the success of PR campaigns by using metrics like media sentiment and social media sentiment. Also, there will be more PR professionals who will find a place in leadership teams in organisations.

The sunshine period for PR and Communication professionals has just begun.

Akanksha Jain
Akanksha heads PR and Communication at BharatPe. She has over 15 years of experience in working across global/digital public relations, corporate and brand communications, crisis communications, brand and market communications domains.

In the past, Akanksha has successfully planned and executed public relations/brands campaigns across India and over 30 other countries. She is a start-up specialist and has extensive experience of working with emerging brands. She has been associated with brands like Pine Labs, MobiKwik, VLCC and Power2SME and spearheaded their PR/brand/communication campaigns.

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