Opinion: PR trends and the digital future

28th November 2017

In our latest blog, we sat down with award-winning Pod PR veteran Ruth Barrows to ask her all about the latest trends in PR and how the role of digital will impact the industry

Q. What’s the biggest challenge facing B2B PR today?

A. The biggest challenge facing PR is still proving its value and being able to encourage clients to invest in it. We will work with multiple stakeholders across a client’s business/industry, and it’s evident that not everyone understands the value of PR and the positive effect it can have. Today, PR still needs its own PR! That said, there is some really great work being delivered, and the CIPR and PRCA have clear measurement guidelines in place. If agencies define success upfront, value will be measurable.

Q. The Pod recently won two awards at the CIPR PRide awards – what were these for?

A. The CIPR PRide Awards are leading regional PR industry awards that recognise the outstanding work that PR professionals deliver across the UK. Both of The Marketing Pod’s award wins were for the Missing Millions campaign delivered for our client Inenco, an energy consultancy. The campaign was designed to raise awareness of how Inenco can help businesses to validate their invoices and potentially offset rising costs – such as the increase in the national living wage – by identifying and recovering erroneous charges. We all really enjoyed working on the Missing Millions campaign, and it’s fantastic for its success to be recognised through these leading PR industry awards.

Q. How has the growth of digital affected your role?

A. It’s had a massive impact and won’t slow down any time soon! At The Marketing Pod, we’re more than just a PR agency; we’re an integrated marketing business, and digital is another channel for us. It’s well documented that online content can support clients’ own SEO objectives, for example with positive backlinks to improve a website’s domain authority. Through digital we can also reach audiences and stakeholders faster than ever before. While this presents a challenge in terms of crisis management, we’re seeing a shift in businesses owning and controlling their narrative instead of hiding from it – this is a good thing!

Q. As a B2B agency, what social media platform is your favourite?

A. We encourage account based marketing, and LinkedIn is key for us, followed by Twitter. LinkedIn enables B2B professionals to execute a personal approach brilliantly, using relevant and timely content to engage with customers and prospects. Twitter is a live experience, allowing audiences to engage with information as it happens. Interestingly, social is forecast to overtake news sites as a source of news in five years’ time, which is why PR professionals must pay attention and adapt the way they are sharing their content.

Q. What’s been your favourite PR campaign of 2017 so far?

A. Aside from our own B2B award-winning campaigns, I have one that stands out, which is a B2C example by Frank PR. In August this year, Chessington Zoo gave 10 families free entry if they handed their phones and devices in on entry. As a mum of a young daughter, I think it’s important that children don’t have too much screen time – especially on a family day out – so this stunt resonated with me.

Q.  How will PR evolve in the future?

A. It will become faster and more creative. The growth of digital, AI and the automation of manual processes such as analysis and targeting will allow PRs time to move away from the monotonous, so they’ll have time to be increasingly creative. Campaigns will become more personalised, more emotionally intelligent and more measurable. This can only lead to PR being more understood and valued.