4 Trends to Consider in Your Communications Plans
The first half of 2020 has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has triggered a health, economy and social crisis. Many companies have been forced to revamp their business models, operations and supply chains in order to survive. Amidst the uncertainties, getting up to speed on recent shifts and advancements in the communications landscape has never been more important now.
To help you keep abreast of recent communications trends, we’ve gleaned highlights from the 2019 Global Comms Report by Cision and PRWeek that still remain relevant today. In its third edition, the report surveyed more than 500 senior-level PR and marketing professionals in seven countries to uncover trends and challenges that PR pros face. These countries are U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Sweden, and China (including Hong Kong SAR).
Here are four key takeaways from the full report, which can be downloaded here.
1. More budget from PR pros is allocated to earned media
Earned media has significantly grown its slice of the media budget pie. Of the more than 500 respondents, an average of 34% of their overall budget is allocated to earned media – up from 26% in 2018. However, paid media still takes up the largest share (35%) globally, while the remaining 31% is allocated to owned media.
Respondents in the US, however, bucked this trend and spent more on earned media (39%, on average) than paid media (31%).
One potential reason why earned media has enjoyed increased spending is that PR professionals are able to better measure the ROI of their work and report tangible and actionable results to management.
However, respondents in Asia highlighted that having to compete with paid media for the budget was among their top three comms challenges. 56% of respondents from the region cited that they found it challenging to justify reducing their budget for paid media.
2. There is a greater emphasis on measuring the effectiveness of comms programs in Asia
As measuring success becomes increasingly important for growing budgets, comms professionals are dedicating more of their annual budget to do so.
Globally, more than half (51%) of respondents devoted at least 10% of their annual budget to measure their comms program, up from 49% last year.
In China, 78% of respondents spent 10% or more to measure the effectiveness of their comms program, more than companies in other countries for the second year running.
3. Mainstream journalists are the most powerful influencers of consumer behavior
Respondents listed the most powerful influencers, in terms of impacting consumer behavior. Globally, ‘mainstream journalists’ was the top answer, with more than one in four (27%) respondents putting it at the top of their list, and more than half (60%) include it in the top three.
This finding, coupled with 67% of respondents who deemed the press release a major tool for media communications, shows that traditional media and tactics are alive and well.
In an interview with PRWeek, Ernie Knewitz, VP of global media relations at Johnson & Johnson said: “Mainstream reporters have increasingly become opinion leaders and they still set the agenda for a lot of public and social discourse.”
However, respondents in China took a different view. Two in three (or 68%) respondents put ‘celebrities’ as part of their top three types of influencers. Celebrities include actors, artists, athletes and social media stars. ‘Everyday consumers’ and ‘mainstream journalists’ come in second at 54% each.
Paid influencers, too, are important to PR professionals in China. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents (88%) said that they are ‘very much’ or a ‘somewhat important’ part of their comms strategy.
4. Pay attention to the rise of Instagram
Finally, respondents told us which social channels are the most vital to their broader content strategy.
Facebook remained on top, with 72% including it in their top three social media channels, and more than one in three (35%) indicated that it is the most important channel.
Nearly two in five (38%) respondents from China also included Facebook in their top three selection, but local platforms such as WeChat (34%) and Weibo (26%) were not far behind.
While it is not as popular as Facebook, Instagram was the biggest mover. More than half (57%) of respondents included it in their top three selection, up from 45% in 2018. Nearly one in four (22%) chose it as the most vital channel, up from 9% in 2018.
With such momentum, Instagram is likely to continue to be a contender for marketing and comms attention and, who knows, it might even overtake Facebook as the most popular PR platform in future.
Download Cision/PRWeek 2019 Global Comms Report: The Path to Progress to uncover the biggest industry challenges, and shifts and advancements in the communications industry.
This blog post is written by Jeff Rajeck, a researcher, trainer, and consultant at Econsultancy, an international business and digital transformation agency, in APAC.