27 Jun 2017

The USC Center for Public Relations recently released its Global Communications Report 2017, including the communications trends PR executives believe will be the most important in the next five years. Here are the top three trends identified by the report:

  1. Digital storytelling
  2. Social listening
  3. Social purpose

Throughout history people have turned to stories to find meaning in things, and for this reason storytelling can be a very potent business tool. Harnessing the power of storytelling, a company can influence the perception of its brand and products and create emotional connections with customers. Thanks to social media, digital storytelling is more powerful than ever, so it’s understandable that PR leaders have their eyes set on this trend.

In the past, journalists controlled much of the storytelling efforts of brands, often deciding what messages and images the public experienced. PR pros worked to forge relationships with journalists and provide them with the content and sources to shape their stories. While that hasn’t changed, companies themselves have much more control today over sharing their messages and images due to social media, from blogs to videos to social engagement occurring everywhere on mobile devices.

Another way PR is rapidly changing is today’s storytelling is not linear or direct. Customers can create and share content, impacting a brand’s story. Listening and engaging with the public is a must. Brands, the media and consumers often come together to create the overall story. This must be understood and monitored on a continuous basis to shape the storytelling desired by the brand.

The report found almost half of the PR executives surveyed believe that PR needs to be more broadly defined, and that the discipline is becoming more closely aligned with marketing. This very well may be due to the growing realization that public relations and digital storytelling are more important than ever.

Brands must go beyond pitching products. Put together a PR team that understands the importance of storytelling. Focus on what your audience cares about, about their problems, and how those challenges can be overcome. Be authentic, and engage with your audience and the media. Enjoy how your good story can grow, evolve and inspire new ones.