Brands such as The Huffington Post, TMZ and others have built in only a few years, and at fractions of the cost, what it has taken The New York Times, ABC and others decades and hundreds of millions of dollars to do.
Even bigger changes affect the PR industry as social media opens every individual up to disseminate information and affect brand perception from Facebook, Twitter and other entities. There has never been a more difficult time to work in the industry of shaping reputations, as attention is clearly the most valuable form of currency for marketers.
Twenty eleven will see massive change for the public relations business:
1) Content Will Be King We create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003, according to the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt. Success in 2011 will be about controlling the content and message (better than Lebron did), as the social Web has had a democratizing effect, allowing social media to serve as newswires for information dissemination. Whether op-eds, viral videos or corporate blogs, self-created content will be king as the public can be reached in non-traditional ways that achieve PR goals — perception communication and perception shaping.
2) Public Relations And Marketing Will Morph Together Whether it's about product placement or budgets being spent to mine for online data, the days of traditional PR for the sake of column inches is largely behind us. From requiring an understanding of how to communicate with shareholders to recognizing that today's economy requires a driving of business results to win market share, today's PR pro will win via positioning their expert storytellers in the right place, and the right way. The one-way flow of communication no longer exists. Brand equity will thrive and remain king as PR and marketing morph.
3) Public Relations Will Own Social Media SEO To Increase As social media redefines influence (Ashton Kutcher vs. CNN, Lady Gaga challenging U.S. senators), PR will own social media. According to the Digital Readiness Report, PR leads digital communications at 51% of organizations and will continue to. Expect increased focus and spend on search, the largest media in the world (as Wall Street already values Google.) Search Engine Optimization, or "googling" someone affects ones' brand perceptions and what brands one buys and sees first. SEO as a PR principle will increase in 2011, as PR and content creation will be seen as the most effective tool to affect online search results.
4) PR Will Report to The C-Suite And Budgets Will Increase In today's rapid-response media world of instant feedback (and Twitter and blogs), can any brand afford not to have its perception accountable to the C-Level suite? With the economy in the doldrums, PR professionals today will be expected to remain sharp, business-focused and on point. With consumers more distracted than ever, messages have to be super-sharp, and campaigns will only be deemed effective if beneficial for brand perception (and ultimately sales). PR executives will increasingly be the pulse for the CEO.
5) Crisis In The World Of PR Will Become Common In a year in which we saw Tiger Woods miserably fail in the PR (and marriage) function, and Wikileaks affect worldwide governments' PR, this is a year in which crisis communications has been front and center. In 2011, public relations pros at companies of all sorts will be expected to take more responsibility and have ongoing visibility for crisis, especially after the financial meltdown impacted companies of all sizes. As online commentators or the wrong tweet can affect a company instantly, crisis will become part and parcel of day-to-day PR, and expect soon to see 24/7 PR offices and PR operations.
PR in 2011 will keep the philosophical riddle relevant: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"