2017 Trends in Marketing and Public Relations

tyler tullis

Tyler Tullis
Senior Account Executive

Jan 6, 2017


CHEERS TO THE NEW YEAR! As we launch into 2017, we asked a few members of our team for some of the biggest trends they’re seeing in marketing and public relations. Here’s what we heard.

Tyler – Video (especially social) will remain the dominant form of online content.

This may sound like a cop-out since we already know video performs stronger than any other type of digital content, but things are only poised to swing further that way. A few observations:

  • Video is expected to drive 85% of search traffic by 2019. Remember “There’s an app for that?” We’re well on our way to “There’s a video for that.”
  • Crazy-fast wi-fi networks and the latest batch of phones (like the iPhone 7) had paved the way for social video ads that stream automatically in social newsfeeds. There has been a 27% increase in video ads on Facebook in the last year alone. Why? Video captures attention much faster than a static image or text alone, so expect the videos in your newsfeed to continue increasing.
  • Video is, of course, not cheap to produce, so marketers will have to get smarter about segmenting smaller videos from their longer-form content, and less expensive animations like kinetic typography and motion graphics.
  • We may also see an uptick in the once maligned vertical video format because it boasts 90% completion rates compared to 14% horizontal completion rates. Try arguing with that math.

Beth – Contributor marketing has a growing place in media relations.

It’s no secret that news rooms across the globe are shrinking. For many industries, making a compelling pitch to reporters and editors is tougher than ever. One of the things we’re encouraging clients to consider is pitching their leadership or subject experts as regular contributors to industry publications. Newsrooms need resources so if we can help them out, they are more likely to call us for additional content or editorial opportunities in the future.

Here are a few tips from John Hall, Forbes contributor:

  • “We love when you can help us engage our audience. If your first article pitch receives good comments, shares, views, time spent on site, finish rates, etc., then we’ll be hungry for more pitches. Do everything you can to encourage all of the above.”
  • “Time is extremely important. I’m a contributor, but I’m also running a company — and that’s the same position a lot of other contributors are in. Make our lives as easy as you can. If there are mistakes and errors in your pitches, I won’t accept your pitches any longer. In other words, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Emily – Brands will be challenged to tap into social conversations outside their owned media.

Social media was the catalyst that transformed marketing communications in the last decade, but while it lived in a silo for years, it’s now the leading tactic in many a brand manager’s arsenal.

The stakes are higher than ever. For many B2C brands, social media is now the front line of customer service. How fast you respond with a solution to a concern or an answer to a question can tilt the balance of power in online ecosystems practically overnight. 95% of adults 18 – 35 are following a brand on a social platform.

But don’t get complacent with a great profile—96% of the people that discuss brands online don’t follow those brands’ owned profiles, so this year the challenge will be trying to find and tap into those conversations, then lead them back to the brand.

Nico – Mobile takes a giant leap in evolution.

For several years, marketers have already considered mobile-first strategies and experiences essential to their communication plans. In 2017, mobile-first will mean more than reaching customers where they are, it presents opportunities to reach them with new experiences that build on mobile’s unique technology and behaviors.

2017 is predicted to be the year when mobile ad revenues are finally going to surpass their desktop counterparts. In 2016, mobile video grew six times faster than desktop video. That’s a big deal—and so were Pokémon Go, 360° video and virtual reality. The ability to deliver messages through experiences that consumers love and interact with daily is unprecedented, but thanks to augmented reality, we’ll see more of those opportunities in the future.

Mobile-indexing will turn SEO on its head in 2017. In November 2016, Google introduced mobile-first indexing, which uses mobile content for all search rankings. What this means for marketers is that Google search rankings will look primarily at mobile content, rather than desktop, when deciding how to rank results. For companies that haven’t made the shift to a mobile-first or fully-responsive web experience, 2017 is the year to do so.

Geotargeting by mobile positioning is coming into its own this year as well, with more CRMs able to segment messages by phone location specific to the block someone is walking on, not just the city in which they live. This means marketers can maximize ROI for hyper-local offers by focusing spend where customers are most likely to take action. While requiring more segmented messages and ads from your marketing department—it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

In a world where many consumers dedicate three hours per day in front of their mobile device, marketers who proceed without a dedicated mobile strategy do so at their own peril.

Judy – Photography: less commercialized, more authentic.

It’s the age of Instagram! Photography is taking cues from selfies and social feeds like Instagram in an effort to connect with audiences in a more authentic way. New angles, cropped faces, the content and composition reflect the times.

Annual research from Getty Images identified desirable photos for many searches as being “spontaneous,” “unpolished,” and even “awkward.” Who’d have thought?

In 2016, VideoBlocks, a stock video site, reported a 270% search result increase for “selfie,” a 207% increase for “smartphone,” and a 140% increase for “mobile.”

Christine – The relationship between legal and public relations will improve, because it must.

In many crisis situations, a CEO is likely to get two varying opinions on what to communicate and when to communicate it. One comes from General Council, advising caution in what is communicated and waiting until a situation is completely understood and a solution intact to avoid legal implications of wrongdoing. A Director of Communications, however, may advise communicating immediately to acknowledge an issue and take accountability.

Both sides raise valid points, and there are ways to satisfy each opinion via messages that acknowledge an issue with the facts that are present and a statement that your company is working toward a resolution.

As we head into 2017, the speed at which a crisis can blow up (sometimes out of proportion) is staggering thanks to social media. When something goes wrong, consumers expect an acknowledgement and a way your organization will make things right. And they expect it as quickly as possible.

We saw this go colossally wrong for Wells Fargo last year. They handled crisis poorly by failing to clearly take accountability for mistakes in favor of vague corporate speak, and the public recoiled. It will take time to know the extent of the damage from that response, but you don’t want to find your organization in the crosshairs due to unforced errors.

The solution? Make sure that legal and public relations in your organization have met to think through possible crisis situations, what the response might be and how soon it could come. Building out contingencies in advance between these two perspectives can go a long way to addressing conflict when a crisis bubbles up.


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